White House Confident in Nov. 30 Deadline To Fix HealthCare.gov
On Wednesday, the White House on Wednesday stood firm on its pledge to have the federal health exchange website functioning properly by the end of this month, despite a recent report that the Obama administration is unlikely to meet the self-imposed deadline because of the extensive nature of the technical issues plaguing the site, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 11/13).
On Tuesday, the Washington Post -- citing an unidentified official familiar with the project to fix HealthCare.gov -- reported that the administration likely will miss the Nov. 30 deadline because the glitches with the portal are too significant to be resolved by then.
Earlier this week, CMS spokesperson Julie Bataille said, "We are working 24/7 to make improvements so that by the end of the month the site is working smoothly for the vast majority of users." She added, "We are making progress, including fixes to reduce error rates and get the site moving faster."
However, the Post's source -- who spoke on the condition of anonymity -- said CGI Federal, the lead contractor on the project, has succeeded in repairing about six of every 10 issues it has encountered so far. The official added that the system continues to fail when more than 20,000 to 30,000 users -- about half of its intended capacity -- attempt to sign on simultaneously.
The official explained that the software problems causing the website to crash when there are too many users mean that consumers attempting to access the site face frozen computer screens when they try to enter data or encounter time-out errors (California Healthline, 11/13).
White House Stands By Deadline
Despite the Post report, White House Director of Communications Jen Palmieri on Wednesday echoed Bataille, saying that HealthCare.gov will be working "for the vast majority of users" by Nov. 30.
Bataille -- during the daily CMS media update on the efforts to fix the website -- also pushed back against findings that the portal remains plagued with technical issues too difficult to remedy by Nov. 30. She said, "The challenges we are addressing today are a snapshot of November 12, not November 30" (Sink, "Briefing Room," The Hill, 11/13).
Further, several leading technology experts involved with the construction of HealthCare.gov testified during a House hearing Wednesday that the site will be functional by the deadline. However, they acknowledged that it would not be perfect (Norman/Millman, Politico, 11/13).
According to The Hill's "Briefing Room," observers warn that the administration's failure to meet the deadline could deter individuals from using the site and might result in additional political divisions between Democrats and Republicans. ("Briefing Room," The Hill, 11/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.