Some Admin Officials Hoped For Failure of Healthcare.Gov During Demo Period To WH

The Washington Post’s piece regarding the Obama administration’s failure to properly roll out the health care exchanges includes a nugget at the end of the piece that illustrates how desperate the situation became one month before the launch of healthcare.gov:

By late summer, CMS officials were frustrated with CGI Federal, which repeatedly said that certain features of the exchange were ready when they were not, several officials said.

CGI was issuing warnings of its own. On Aug. 17, about six weeks before the launch date, a company employee sent an e-mail to a CMS staffer — with copies to more than a dozen other CMS staff members — detailing an “updated schedule” for work on the exchange. 

The e-mail, obtained by The Post, said that, for the tasks that CGI was responsible for, the exchange was 55 percent complete. White House officials say they were focused on whether there would be enough insurance plans for sale in the new marketplaces and on whether enough people would enroll. They say they didn’t have a clue how troubled the Web site’s operation was.

Only during the weekend after HealthCare.gov’s Oct. 1 opening did the president’s aides begin to grasp the gravity of the problems, the White House official said. Obama soon began getting nightly updates on the performance of the Web site, which has still been unavailable to Americans for hours at a stretch over the past week.

But that was still to come. A month earlier, on Sept. 5, White House officials visited CMS for a final demonstration of HealthCare.gov. Some staff members worried that it would fail right in front of the president’s aides. A few secretly rooted for it to fail so that perhaps the White House would wait to open the exchange until it was ready.

Yet on that day, using a simplified demonstration application, the Web site appeared to work just fine.

President Barack Obama’s tech contractors argue that the website will be fixed by the December 15 deadline, telling Yahoo News: 

“The experience will be improved as we go forward, and people will be able to enroll by the Dec. 15 time frame,” Cheryl Campbell, senior vice president for CGI Federal, the company that helped build the government website, told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “We’re seeing improvements day over day.” 

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