The PJ Tatler

Emails Show Healthcare Website Officials Feared 'Plane Crash at Take-Off'

The House Energy and Commerce Committee unveiled Friday a set of July documents from the Department of Health and Human Services showing concern over the healthcare exchange website that likened the possibility of crashing to a plane going down.

In various emails dating between July 8 and July 20, administration officials confirm that they “under oath stated we are going to make October 1st,” but other emails express “we believe that our entire build is in jeopardy.” project manager Henry Chao writes, “I just need to feel more confident they are not going to crash the plane at take-off, regardless of price.”

Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), whose bill to let people keep their insurance plans passed with solid bipartisan support on Friday, noted that on Aug. 1, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner testified to the full committee, “CMS has already completed the majority of the development of the services required to support open enrollment beginning on October 1, 2013 for coverage beginning on January 1, 2014.”

“Administration officials looked us in the eye and told us everything was ‘on track’ but when we pull back the curtain now, the mess is disturbing. What reason do the American people have to believe that the administration is capable of meeting its November 30 goal for fixing or its January 1 promise to deliver health care to Americans across the country? The botched rollout has created a serious question of competence and trust in the administration that we will continue asking at our hearing next week,” Upton said.

“Rather than pushing forward with unachievable deadlines to ‘fix’ its failures outside of Congress, the administration needs to begin working with Congress on a real plan to protect the American people from this disastrous law.”

The Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing tomorrow on the security of the website, where Chao is scheduled to testify.

“The administration was under no obligation to launch the website on October 1, yet did so anyway despite the government’s own programmers warning that the site was full of bugs, security holes, and well behind schedule,” said Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.). “When these latest revelations of incompetency are coupled with news that five million Americans are losing their coverage and millions more are paying higher premiums, it’s no wonder the public has lost faith in the administration’s ability to implement this law.”