Deadline slips for healthcare.gov fixes
No surprise here. And when November 30 rolls around and the site is still non-operational, the president's shattered credibility is going to take another big hit.
Software problems with the federal online health insurance marketplace, especially in handling high volumes, are proving so stubborn that the system is unlikely to work fully by the end of the month as the White House has promised, according to an official with knowledge of the project.
The insurance exchange is balking when more than 20,000 to 30,000 people attempt to use it at the same time -- about half its intended capacity, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose internal information. And CGI Federal, the main contractor that built the site, has succeeded in repairing only about six of every 10 of the defects it has addressed so far.
Government workers and technical contractors racing to repair the Web site have concluded, the official said, that the only way for large numbers of Americans to enroll in the health-care plans soon is by using other means so that the online system isn't overburdened.
This inside view of the halting nature of HealthCare.gov repairs is emerging as the insurance industry is working behind the scenes on contingency plans, in case the site continues to have problems. And it calls into question the repeated assurances by the White House and other top officials that the insurance exchange will work smoothly for the vast majority of Americans by Nov. 30. Speaking in Dallas a week ago, President Obama said that the "Web site is already better than it was at the beginning of October, and by the end of this month, we anticipate that it is going to be working the way it is supposed to, all right?"
The need for what the official called a "divide-and-conquer strategy" for enrollment puts more emphasis on alternative methods for buying health plans. These methods include federal call centers and insurance companies that sell policies directly to customers -- paths that are hobbled for now by some of the same technical problems affecting the federal Web site.
The site is so screwed up, that the geeks are finding problems every day. No sooner do they fix something, than another glitch is exposed:
Software engineers and tech analysts scrambling to fix HealthCare.gov are discovering new problems by the day, as early fixes take hold and users are able to navigate more deeply into the troubled online application process, administration officials said Thursday.
"We are seeing volume go further down the application. What that means is we are identifying new issues," said Julie Bataille, communications director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency overseeing the site improvement.
"As volume is exposed to the system, we are identifying new issues, adding them to the punch list and working through them," she said.
Rasmussen reports that 55% now say that Obamacare should be repealed. What do you think that number will be by January 1?