Administration Announces Plan to Fix Obamacare Website by Nov. 30

A rocky start: Obamacare.
National Journal
Sam Baker
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Sam Baker
Oct. 25, 2013, 9:22 a.m.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion (fi­nally) an­nounced a plan to fix Health­Care.gov, the broken web­site to en­roll in health in­sur­ance through Obama­care.

The site was sup­posed to be up and run­ning Oct. 1, but it has been mired in tech­nic­al prob­lems that make it all but un­us­able. The new dead­line for a func­tion­al web­site is Nov. 30, of­fi­cials said Fri­day.

“We are con­fid­ent that by the end of the month of Novem­ber, Health­Care.gov will op­er­ate smoothly,” said Jeff Zi­ents, the former White House budget dir­ect­or tasked with find­ing a way to get the en­roll­ment pro­cess back on track. He said a group of tech­no­logy ex­perts has de­veloped a “punch list” of prob­lems they need to fix in or­der to get Health­Care.gov on track. At the top of the list, he said, are prob­lems with the in­form­a­tion the site is feed­ing to in­sur­ance com­pan­ies.

Those back-end is­sues haven’t got­ten as much at­ten­tion as the prob­lems people have had sign­ing up to shop for in­sur­ance, but they’re po­ten­tially much more ser­i­ous. In­surers have warned that if the pace of en­roll­ment picks up be­fore back-end prob­lems are fixed, they’ll be swamped with loads of in­ac­cur­ate, con­tra­dict­ory in­form­a­tion and un­able to pro­cess ap­plic­a­tions cor­rectly. Zi­ents said Qual­ity Soft­ware Ser­vices Inc.—the com­pany that built a massive “data hub” for the health care law’s ex­changes—will take the lead on co­ordin­at­ing re­pairs to the site.

That de­cision ap­pears to rec­ti­fy one of the main com­plaints about the ini­tial launch: that the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment put it­self in charge of pulling to­geth­er con­tract­ors’ work, rather than ap­point­ing one con­tract­or to over­see the whole pro­ject.

The end-of-Novem­ber dead­line to fix the en­roll­ment pro­cess puts un­in­sured con­sumers on a tight­er timeline to buy cov­er­age. Dec. 15 is the last day to buy cov­er­age that be­gins on Jan. 1. So there’s only a short win­dow between the new tar­get date for Health­Care.gov and the dead­line to buy cov­er­age.

But of­fi­cials said they ex­pect the site to make in­cre­ment­al pro­gress between now and the end of Novem­ber, so that more people will gradu­ally be able to make their way in­to the sys­tem.

COR­REC­TION: A pre­vi­ous ver­sion of this story mis­stated the name of the com­pany that de­veloped the data hub for state health in­sur­ance ex­changes.

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