Emails Reveal Worries About Bad Press for Obamacare Website

Top CMS officials expressed their concerns about HealthCare.gov days before the site’s Oct. 1 launch.

This October 21, 2013 photo shows the US government internet health insurance exchange Healthcare.gov. US President Barack Obama on Monday defended his problem-plagued health reform plan, declaring at a White House event that, despite numerous glitches, the program is already helping many uninsured Americans. 'Let me remind everybody that the Affordable Care Act is not just a website,' Obama said, after the troubled online rollout of the plan. 'It's much more...You may not know it, but you're already benefiting from these provisions in the law.'AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER 
National Journal
Clara Ritger
Nov. 21, 2013, 2:10 a.m.

New emails re­leased by the House Over­isight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee show that top of­fi­cials in­volved in the rol­lout of Health­Care.gov were con­cerned about the web­site not be­ing ready, and that the er­ror mes­sage would garner bad press.

“I am pic­tur­ing in my mind all the ma­jor print and on­line pub­lic­a­tions tak­ing screen shots of what is be­low and just ramp­ing up the hy­per­bole about hc.gov not func­tion­al,” wrote Henry Chao, deputy chief in­form­a­tion of­ficer at the Cen­ters for Medi­care and Medi­caid Ser­vices, the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Agency tasked with im­ple­ment­ing the fed­er­al ex­change.

Ac­cord­ing to a White House spokes­man, the Sept. 25 emails ex­press con­cerns about high traffic to the site, not a hunch that the site would not work at all, Politico re­ports.

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