Last week, President Obama told the nation that he was not told “directly” about concerns within the administration that Healthcare.gov might fail on or near launch. Fox has obtained an email chain from September 25, just days before Obamacare’s October 1 launch, in which the project manager noted White House fears that the site would fail. He wanted to drum up an explanation so that when it failed, the administration could deflect negative press attention.
A Sept. 25 email chain from HealthCare.gov project manager Henry Chao, obtained by Fox News, suggests Obama administration officials had more fears than they let on publicly that the website would have problems before its Oct. 1 launch.
In the email to a number of apparent colleagues, Chao suggests the administration should design a more palatable way to tell the public that the website was not working in case it failed after the launch, saying that such a move could help prevent the media from “just ramping up the hyperbole about hc.gov not [being] functional.”
The email refers to a meeting the previous day, Sept. 24, that included White House Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and CMS chief Marilyn Tavenner.
“When Todd Park and Marilyn was (sic) here yesterday one of the things Todd conveyed was this fear the WH has about hc.gov being unavailable,” wrote Chao.
He added of Park: “He will come back again and ask on 9/30 because after knowing him for the past 3+ years I can tell when he will hang on to something for a long time. Todd does have a good point and I think we should have a more comprehensive answer as to how we will ensure high availability.”
In the email, Chao suggested the team should come up with a more palatable way to explain problems with the website so that the media did not pounce.
“Can you think about a better way to convey to the public when the site is not available?” wrote Chao. “I am picturing in my mind all the major print and online publications taking screenshots of what is below and just ramping up the hyperbole about hc.gov not [being] functional.”
So, either the project managers didn’t get word to the president that his signature policy was about to crash and burn, or they did. Which is it? It’s a simple question. We should be able to get a straight answer.