Aside from a system-wide problem with customer access at times, the healthcare.gov website functioned relatively smoothly as open enrollment began on Saturday.
For half a billion dollars, you might expect a little more. After all, if Amazon or Expedia experienced problems like this, they’d probably go out of business.
But in the US government, the managers will probably be promoted.
Things were not running as smoothly across the country in state exchanges. The Washington state Obamacare exchange was forced to shut down when it began calculating subsidies incorrectly. They want to open it again today, but aren’t sure the software fix will be ready.
In Louisiana, customers couldn’t log in to their accounts until after one.
Three USA Today employees tried creating accounts at healthcare.gov with varying degrees of success:
Brokers at the Health Insurance Store of Louisiana in Baton Rouge weren’t able to do that until early afternoon. Owner Will Chapman says none of the 10 agents or their clients could log into accounts until about 1 p.m. CT Saturday.
“We’d go in with an e-mail account, set up an account, verify it and create a password, but when go back to actually log in with that information, it says your password is invalid,” says Chapman.
After a lengthy wait on hold for the call center around midday, Chapman says, they were told the problem was systemwide.
“The vast majority of users are having a smooth experience during the first day of Open Enrollment on HealthCare.gov as they fill out applications, browse and enroll in plans,” HHS spokesman Aaron Albright said in an e-mailed statement. “We expect to experience the normal issues that any other complicated technology project does upon launch and have seen a small number so far.”
Albright said the department “will continue to work every day to make the consumer experience simpler and easier.”
Three USA TODAY staff members created accounts in Virginia on Saturday morning. One of the three was blocked from logging in, just as the agents in Louisiana experienced, After a five-minute wait on hold, a call center employee unlocked the account but warned it couldn’t be logged into for another two hours.
After 2½ hours, attempts to log into the account again failed, so the password was reset again — to no avail.
After a USA TODAY reporter’s third call to the call center after password changes failed to make log in possible, the woman answering the phone said she needed to send the case to “an advanced resolution specialist” who would call back “within five to seven business days.”
In other Obamacare news, one of the HHS’s top technology officers who helped design the flawed website has been subpoenaed to appear before a Senate committee.
Former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park will be questioned over his role in developing healthcare.gov.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued the subpoena for the Obama administration’s former top tech advisor, demanding that he testify about his oversight of the ObamaCare website, including its security protocols.
The subpoena comes after Park’s previous refusals to testify and his recent cancellation of a meeting with House lawmakers after it became clear that the briefing would be public, the committee said.
“The Obama administration has failed to provide this committee with information about the security of the ObamaCare website,” Smith said in a statement on Tuesday. “What is the White House trying to hide?”
“The American people deserve to know their personal information on HealthCare.gov is absolutely secure,” he added.
Park was brought in to help repair the website after its notorious launch last year, but has maintained that he did not have detailed knowledge of the site ahead of time.
A staff report issued by the Science Committee on Tuesday, however, asserted that he “communicated regularly” with government officials and contractors involved with the site’s development and co-chaired a steering committee for ObamaCare tech issues.
“Given the emails provided to Congress by [the Department of Health and Human Services], it appears that Mr. Park purposefully and willfully misrepresented his role and responsibilities with the HealthCare.gov website,” the committee claimed in the report.
The subpoena requires Park to appear in an Oversight subcommittee on Nov. 19.
Though the committee claims that Park has refused to appear on five previous occasions, he offered to voluntarily testify just last month.
“[I]f the subcommittee desires additional information, there is no need to resort to subpoenas,” White house counsel Neil Eggleston wrote in the letter, after the committee voted to authorize a subpoena. “Mr. Park will be pleased to testify at a subcommittee hearing in November.”
The subpoena comes weeks after news that a hacker broke into a HealthCare.gov test server in July and inserted software designed to attack other networks. No personal information was stolen and the ObamaCare website did not even seem to be targeted in the attack, officials said after disclosing the attack in September.
Is there anything or anyone associated with Obamacare that’s up front and honest? I’m beginning to feel like Diogenes, wandering around with a lantern looking for an honest man.
I don’t think I’ll find any who had anything to do with Obamacare.