Problems with the federal government’s new health care insurance website, healthcare.gov, have Republicans in Congress asking the question: are White House officials clueless or liars?
“Health care should give people peace of mind, but four weeks into the health law's botched rollout and more Americans have received cancellation notices from their existing health care plans than have even applied at HealthCare.gov,” said U.S. Representative Fred Upton.
Upton chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee which hosted a hearing Thursday focused on the failures and issues surrounding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges website.
“Despite three and a half years to prepare, the launch has been a mess, the rate shock is real, and the broken promises are many. This is a matter of fairness. Something needs to be done to help the millions of Americans that have been hurt by these broken promises. The American public deserves answers, and we look forward to Secretary Sebelius' testimony next week.”
Republican after Republican, and even a few Democrats questioned the contractors responsible for building the website when they learned there would be problems with site implementation.
Reports of the website crashing and limited enrollment are among the many complaints about healthcare.gov. Several representatives pointed out that major online retailers like Amazon don’t crash before the holdiays, so why should the government healthcare site be allowed to crash before enrollment starts?
Upton pointed out that he and several others asked the Obama Administration to delay the individual mandate, hoping that the penalties won’t be imposed until the system is worked out. That’s where the hearings come into play.
Representatives from CGI Federal and QSSI, two contractors behind separate parts of the website, testified they each did what they were told to do. They pointed the finger at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for launching the site before it was adequately tested on October first.
According to Upton, one of the underlying problems was that no single entity oversaw the entire project.
“All these contractors were so compartmentalized that there was never an end-to-end testing which meant, literally the end, until the week or two before October 1st,” Upton told NewsCenter 16 on Friday.
Another question many representatives still want answered is what will happen if individuals need coverage in January? Will the system be functioning enough to provide coverage when they go to the doctor or the hospital?
Thus far the Obama administration has begun to acknowledge the issues and says there are teams in place to work out the issues, and some of the program’s biggest Democratic advocates are optimistic everything will be resolved. Upton however isn’t sold that it can all be repaired.
The House committee will hear from Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday, October 30.