Federal Government to Switch Obamacare Tech Contractors

How’s Obamacare going so far in
2014? The White House is insisting that the law is a success, but a
spate of recent news items suggest otherwise. 

Just today, for example, The Washington Post
that the Department of Health and Human Services plans
to end its relationship with Obamacare tech contractor CGI Federal
and switch to a new consulting firm, Accenture. The Post
reports that the new firm is being brought on board after HHS
concluded that CGI, “not been effective enough in fixing the
intricate computer system underpinning the federal Web

Given the troubled rollout of the health law’s online exchange
system last year, this is not entirely surprising. But it also
suggests that despite the administration’s happy progress reports,
all is not entirely well with the federal exchange system, which
covers 36 states. As the Post notes, “the administration’s decision
to end the contract with CGI reflects lingering unease over the
performance of HealthCare.gov.”

The move suggests that remaining problems may be bigger than the
White House is letting on. Accenture, which built California’s
state-run exchange, does not have any prior experience with federal
health IT systems. In other words, federal officials decided that
CGI’s performance was still so poor that it was worth the
considerable startup and transition costs of switching to an
entirely new technology firm.

You can see some of the lingering issues with the site in the
Associated Press’s
story about Obamacare “orphans”
—individuals who thought they
had signed up for coverage under the law, but who have been told
there’s no record of their enrollment. The story estimates that
about 13,000 people remain affected by the issue. And insurers say
that there are other remaining sign-up glitches as well, such as
duplicate enrollment identification numbers being assigned to
multiple people.

Meanwhile, we still don’t know the demographic breakdown of who
is signing up for coverage under the law. But one big insurer says
it now believes that its enrollment pool will end up weighted far
more heavily toward sicker, more expensive individuals than it had
previously expected. Humana projected yesterday that its risk pools
would be “more adverse than previously expected,”
according to Reuters

Granted, that’s only one insurer. And it may simply be that
younger, healthier individuals wait until March, the last month of
open enrollment, to sign up for coverage.

The fact is, we still don’t really know who is signing up and
who is not, or even how many people have paid for their first
month’s enrollments. But
unofficial estimates
 indicate that the figure is probably
low—perhaps just 50 percent of sign ups. The fact that several
insurers recently extended payment deadlines to the latter part of
this month does not suggest that collection efforts are
going smoothly

What does the White House have to say about all this? Not much.
As I
in my column yesterday, the administration has not been
particularly forthcoming with answers about the law. And that
doesn’t look likely to change soon: The White House officially
signaled its opposition today to a House bill that would require
the administration to provide data about how personal data was
being used and secured under the law,
the reporting requirements would be too
“administratively burdensome.” 

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/10/federal-government-to-switch-obamacare-t

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