Health Care

Sebelius: Blame Contractors For Obamacare Site

Secretary pushes back after contractors blame HHS for site’s flaws.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius participates in a conference to discuss the Affordable Care Act at the Miami Dade College on September 17, 2013 in Miami, Florida.
National Journal
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Sam Baker
Oct. 29, 2013, 9:17 a.m.

A week after the con­tract­ors who built Health­ blamed the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion for the site’s fail­ures, the ad­min­is­tra­tion is shift­ing the blame right back.

Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­ret­ary Kath­leen Se­beli­us will tell a House com­mit­tee to­mor­row the site’s botched rol­lout was the res­ult of con­tract­ors fail­ing to live up to ex­pect­a­tions — not bad man­age­ment at HHS, as the con­tract­ors sug­ges­ted.

“CMS has a track re­cord of suc­cess­fully over­see­ing the many con­tract­ors our pro­grams de­pend on to func­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, a sub­set of those con­tracts for Health­ have not met ex­pect­a­tions,” Se­beli­us said in pre­pared testi­mony for to­mor­row’s hear­ing be­fore the En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee.

The site’s con­tract­ors have blamed Health­’s prob­lems on CMS — the Cen­ters for Medi­care and Medi­caid Ser­vices, which handled the Obama­care im­ple­ment­a­tion ef­fort with­in HHS. Testi­fy­ing be­fore the same com­mit­tee last week, con­tract­ors faul­ted CMS for design changes that made the site harder to use.

They have also cri­ti­cized the agency for in­teg­rat­ing con­tract­ors’ work it­self, rather than des­ig­nat­ing one con­tract­or to take the lead.

Se­beli­us’ pre­pared testi­mony con­cedes that the Health­ launch was troubled, but does not place any blame for its prob­lems on HHS. The site launched with massive tech­nic­al prob­lems that are still pre­vent­ing users from shop­ping for or en­rolling in health in­sur­ance.


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