Oct 15 2013
Major Update: Ezra Klein interviews someone directly familiar with Obamacare’s technical issues, and he confirms my predictions – this is not going to get fixed soon:
So I think some of the problem is the Obama administration never brought in heavyweight IT people to oversee this. Are there no Democrats in Silicon Valley? Kathleen Sebelius was the governor of Kansas. Mary Tavenner is a nurse and health policy person. Their senior people had no information technology background. And they’re listening to the consultants!
I think it gets back to oversight. It was a lack of oversight on the part of the Obama administration. They needed to bring in the same kind of heavyweights in IT that the Obama administration brought in to sell this from the campaign.
There’s no evidence of any improvement so far. I say that factually, not as a shot at them. The question then is will they get there in time?
I think the feds have to really solve their problems. I wouldn’t go on those sites now. People are just wasting their time. I think Mark Bertolini from Aetna made the comment this morning, and I agree with it that the smart move on the part of the Obama administration would’ve been to suspend the Web system, shut it down, go back, and fixed the problems.
To shut down and go back to fix the problems, to bring in experienced IT people will take a year -at least. First, you will have to shutdown the current contracts (they are legally binding commitments that cannot just be dropped). Then you will have to go back and assess and redo the system architecture, specifications and interfaces. My guess this is all mucked up. On the project I am working now to correct a similar bad start, it took us 1.5 years to just fix the technical documentation so the developer could get back on track.
However, to bring in new technical leads will also require a competitive procurement. So add another year. 2.5 years if you start over and do it right.
Apparently Sebellius and Obama have succeeded in delaying ObamaCare where the Tea Party had yet to succeed!
Update:Ace has more on how Healthcare.gov crashed due to a scheme to hide the cost of premiums from the American People.
Update: Hopefully this is a good sign, the House GOP taking the initiative and moving legislation today
On the latest offer from House Republicans—a short-term extension of the debt ceiling—Mr. Needham calls it a shrewd move by Speaker John Boehner: “We’ve got to get back to the discussion of ObamaCare, not the typical Washington food fight.”
- end update
Last night on O’Reilly I listened to Bill and Karl Rove spew so much egotistical nonsense I have had to strike another show from my watch list. With perfect 20-20 hindsight, these two were patting themselves on the back about how wrong it was for the House GOP to try and loosen the grip of ObamaCare from the finances of average Americans. They pointed to the disastrous ObamaCare roll out as evidence it would have been better to just let the funding and law go unchallenged and not call for changes!
Yeah, that would have been brilliant IF the ObamaCare launch had been a disaster. But who predicted such a screwed up implementation? Not Bill or Karl! The truth was (and is) the House GOP had to put their cards on the table BEFORE the ObamaCare launch, and if the launch went even somewhat OK, they would have been rightfully seen as going along and playing it safe.
BS on Rove and O’Reilly. Remove those 20-20 Arse-Looking glasses and grab hold of the opportunities we have right now – opportunities to start fixing Obama’s mistakes.
First off, the longer ObamaCare’s technological issues persist, the more people will appreciate the efforts of the GOP in trying to protect them from the ObamaCare mess. Give it time. The polls are turning against Obama now. Here is Gallup’s numbers on Obama for 10/14/13, and look where they are heading:
That spread is one of the worst for Obama in Gallup since around October 2009. And we all know what happened after that!
Here are the numbers at Rasmussen, where the spread of intensity is turning against Obama:
The latest figures include 27% who Strongly Approve of the way Obama is performing as president and 43% who Strongly Disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -16.
The GOP has already taken their hit in the polls – as McCain noted they are down to families and paid staff. So you better get something for all this and set the stage for the coming months of the ObamaCare fiasco. And it will be a fiasco – all the reporting confirms this. I posted previously on the state of ObamaCare here and here, and today the news keeps rolling in, pointing to MONTHS of bad news for the administration and Dems.
First here (from CNBC no less!), from a Insurance Company CEO who has seen the disaster coming for months:
Asked on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” if he knew that the rollout of Healthcare.gov would be problematic, the insurer’s CEO, Mark Bertolini, said his giant company’s role as an alpha tester for the system gave it a sense of how many problems the health insurance marketplace faced on the eve of its launch.
“We were pretty nervous as we got further along,” Bertolini said. “As they started missing deadlines, we were pretty convinced it was going to be a difficult launch.”
“It’s all been on the fly,” Bertolini said of the construction of the marketplace and the integration of insurers such as Aetna, whose plans are being offered to up 40 million customers.
“We didn’t get code drops until the last month before the system went live,” he said.
Gubberment mismanagement – plain and simple. Testing something like this requires at least 6 months – with time to make the corrections and retest. 4 weeks for the first real system-wide testing is a joke.
Asked how long the marketplace, also known as an exchange, will take to fix, Bertolini said, “That’s the big question.”
“I think the attention span of the younger generation in using technology is that if it doesn’t work the first time, it’s going to be pretty hard to get them back the second time,” he said. “If the program blows up because people don’t sign up, then the program’s not going to move ahead … all that well.”
Asked if he would have delayed the launch of the exchange given its earlier problems, Bertolini said, “I would have, if I’d been in their seat.”
I know, I have seen this everyday for the last 7-8 years. All the signs, all the same missteps, all the CYA over promises. The fact is, there are very few people in government and industry who know how to handle a project this big. Even company labels don’t help, because inside each company there are only a few.
I can tell you as a 25 year professional in the business of large scale computer systems, all the evidence points to months of rework – maybe even a complete restart with a real competitive procurement process this time around.
The biggest problem with Healthcare.gov seems simple enough: It was built by people who are apparently far more familiar with government cronyism than they are with IT.
“All but one of of the 47 contractors who won contracts to carry out work on the Affordable Care Act worked for the government prior to its passage,” the report reads. Some of the names ought to be familiar: Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Deloitte, and Booz Allen Hamilton, all of whom assumed different roles and worked on different aspects of the project.
As familiar as those names might be, especially to those who follow Beltway lobbying practices, few of them would be as commonly associated with large-scale IT projects as, say, Google, Amazon.com, or Dell would be — especially when it came to building the public-facing components of the system. (Techdirt concurs.)
Granted, some experience with government work is vital for any contractor, and the federal procurement system is geared to favor those already doing government work, but Sunlight pointed out that the list tips heavily toward those with both existing contracts and political leverage.
This program was screwed up from the beginning, and only got worse as it went along. HHS does not have the in-house expertise to craft and manage something like this. Painfully evident now. And the most interesting news to come to light was how a last minute political decision upended all the shoddy work done prior:
“Healthcare.gov was initially going to include an option to browse before registering,” report Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said.” Why was it delayed? “An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies.” (Emphasis added.)
So, by analyzing your income first, if you qualify for heavy subsidies, the website can advertise those subsidies to you instead of just hitting you with Obamacare’s steep premiums. For example, the site could advertise plans that “$0? or “$30? instead of explaining that the plan really costs $200, and you’re getting a subsidy of $200 or $170. But you’ll have to be at or near the poverty line to gain subsidies of that size; most people will either not qualify for a subsidy, or qualify for a small one that, net-net, doesn’t make up for the law’s cost hikes.
This political objective—masking the true underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans—far outweighed the operational objective of making the federal website work properly.
Second emphasis added by me.There is very little chance this mess can be cleaned up and made to work in a month. Obama has hinted as much. I don’t have any special ability to see into the future and I don’t have the detailed specs and test reports to assess the level and scope of damage, but what I am seeing reported (and that is just a hint of what is happening) tells me this will be an issue into 2014.
Here is where Rove and O’Reilly were completely wrong. Keep the individual mandate about ObamaCare front and center. Be the protector against Oppressive Government Incompetence. Keep pushing on why the individual mandate is unfair, especially when the government system is plain broken! Obama and the Dems are starting to fold under the Shutdown.
Every step back by Obama and the Dems exposes the absurdity and cruelty of Shutdown Theater, and the clear effort to cover up the mess that is ObamaCare:
Two weeks into the partial government shutdown, the Obama administration is increasingly easing off some of its most painful cuts — fueling the perception among critics that the government initially imposed visible, but ultimately unnecessary, cutbacks as a way to pressure Republicans.
The Department of the Interior late last week agreed to let states use their own money to reopen some national parks. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also determined football and other sports could continue at service academies through October.
Following outrage from military groups, the Pentagon contracted with a charity to provide death benefits to the families of fallen soldiers, before President Obama abruptly signed legislation to do just that.
Earlier, the Pentagon also announced most of its 350,000 furloughed civilian military personnel would return to their jobs. And CIA Director John Brennan said he would begin bringing back employees deemed necessary to the agency’s core missions.
What you are seeing is the phased re-opening of the 17% of the government shutdown by Obama for political reasons. And each new surrender reduces the pressure on the GOP. Obama and the Dems are being forced to back track.
I see no reason to give in now for nothing in return.