Official: 30 to 40 Percent of Obamacare Technology Not Yet Built

This October 21, 2013 photo shows the US government internet health insurance exchange 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
Sophie Novack
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Sophie Novack
Nov. 19, 2013, 9:45 a.m.

A top tech­no­logy of­fi­cial in the de­vel­op­ment of the Obama­care en­roll­ment web­site said Tues­day that 30 to 40 per­cent of the on­line mar­ket­place re­mains to be built.

Henry Chao, deputy chief in­form­a­tion of­ficer at the Cen­ters for Medi­care and Medi­caid Ser­vices, test­i­fied at a House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee hear­ing Tues­day, where he claimed re­spons­ib­il­ity for mak­ing sure the tech­no­logy pieces of the site are in place.

Ac­cord­ing to Chao, re­pairs to Health­ are on­go­ing, and se­cur­ity test­ing of the site is be­ing con­duc­ted daily and weekly. Yet a sig­ni­fic­ant por­tion of the over­all fed­er­al ex­change sys­tem still needs to be built.

Asked by Rep. Cory Gard­ner, R-Colo., what por­tion of the en­roll­ment site had yet to be cre­ated when the site launched Oct. 1, Chao said he did not have an ex­act per­cent­age but that all func­tions pri­or­it­ized for the lauch were com­pleted and tested. However, now in the second month of im­ple­ment­a­tion, a sig­ni­fic­ant amount re­mains un­developed. 

Health­, the on­line ap­plic­a­tion, veri­fic­a­tion, de­term­in­a­tion, plan com­pare, get­ting en­rolled, gen­er­at­ing an en­roll­ment trans­ac­tion, that’s 100 per­cent there,” Chao said.

It’s some of the backend func­tions — the back of­fice sys­tems, the ac­count­ing sys­tems, and the sys­tems to make pay­ments to is­suers be­gin­ning in Janu­ary — that still need to be built, ac­cord­ing to Chao. These parts will be tested in the same way as the rest of the site.

Chao said de­vel­op­ing and re­view­ing new parts of the site does not af­fect op­er­a­tion of the rest of the web­site. “It doesn’t in­volve the front part,” he ex­plained. “When we’re try­ing to cal­cu­late a pay­ment, de­rive a pay­ment, do data matches on the back end, that doesn’t af­fect the Health­ op­er­a­tions.”

CMS did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

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