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Making a difference in how people find health information, today and into the future.

A Technology Surge for HealthCare.gov

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Today, we are announcing key steps the Department is taking as part of a tech surge to continue to improve the consumer experience on HealthCare.gov. 

First, I am very pleased to announce we are bringing management expert and former CEO and Chairman of two publicly traded companies Jeff Zients on board to work in close cooperation with our HHS team to provide management advice and counsel to the project.  Jeff has led some of the country’s top management firms, providing private sector companies around the world with best practices in management, strategy and operations.  He has a proven track record as Acting Director at the Office of Management and Budget and as the nation’s first Chief Performance Officer.  Working alongside our team and using his rich expertise and management acumen, Jeff will provide short-term advice, assessments and recommendations. 

We’ve also brought in additional experts and specialists drawn from within government, our contractors, and industry, including veterans of top Silicon Valley companies.  These reinforcements include a handful of Presidential Innovation Fellows.  This new infusion of talent will bring a powerful array of subject matter expertise and skills, including extensive experience scaling major IT systems.  This effort is being marshaled as part of a cross-functional team that is working aggressively to diagnose parts of HealthCare.gov that are experiencing problems, learn from successful states, prioritize issues, and fix them. 

In addition to our efforts to ramp up capacity and expertise with the country’s leading innovators and problem solvers, we have secured additional staff and commitments from our contractors, including CGI, the lead firm responsible for the federally facilitated marketplace technology.  They are providing and directing the additional resources needed for this project within the provisions of their existing contract. 

We will continue to keep you updated on our progress on improving HealthCare.gov.  As we work to fix the site, we encourage Americans to continue to sign up for quality affordable coverage in four ways: by phone, online, by-mail and in person.  Millions of Americans are already benefitting from the law, through increased benefits like preventative care at no additional costs and drug discounts for seniors.  We believe the product of the law – affordable health insurance – is good, but we won’t stop until every American who wants it gains access to these new options for care.

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Comments

Submitted by francislholland on
The Obama Administration is to be congratulated for getting further with this public policy program than any previous administration has, bar none. Considering the complexity and enormity of the computer databases and interfaces required, the Administration should have put the same staff that won the information campaign in November in charge of winning the national health insurance subscription campaign. But, with states and health care providers deciding whether and how to participate in the program up until the last days, the Administration can hardly be blamed for delays. It also should be pointed out that delays in the courts delayed the Administration's ability to develop programs that would meet tests established by the courts. By not being sufficient prepared on the first day, the administration comes out looking as if its data program roll-out was no more successful than Mitt Romney's Election Day technical campaign of last year. The worst aspect of Romney's election data program was that he only first tested it on Election Day. Likewise, the Obama Administration seems only to have stress tested its Affordable Care Act computer programs and databases on the first day of the program roll-out. They should have foreseen the number of people trying to use the system. This failure to get the programming right does not in any way reduce value of the ACA itself. This is just a matter of execution, not substance. Francis L. Holland
Submitted by Janak on
Very well said! This will be appreciated by the future generations more than the present generation. Our minds are clouded by ideological rhetorics. Thanks.
Submitted by grace on
It would be great if I could talk to someone in the management chain. I spent my whole career in technology and think I have valuable insight it both the site and the customer service issues.
Submitted by Silteched Oregonian on
Me too. They just don't understand how they are being hacked. It's not too hard to figure it out, I did. It's the same stupid old Trojan Horse hack. They need to get those insurers out of their system that are hacking them. Simple as that. Find and remove the instigators from the CMS approved providers allowed at the exchange sites. Humana and the affiliated parent company and the like? Ask the AG of MN? LOL I smell some stinking Koch Bros, Brownback and the like in here. Duh. The Secretary's problem here is so obviously personal, what a shame. The conflict of interest is in her bio. No way she could of known then about what all now. I do wish her the best of luck though and I hope they can corral all of those evil hackers she has allowed in. Hope the youngsters can see that. Do they have techies from ALL states of the US? Seems that would be fair and equal at this point. Don't let all of those Republican ruled insurance techies ruin it for her. Good Luck with your endeavors.
Submitted by M on
Where are the comments?
Submitted by Harold on
Is it being paranoid to suggest that there might be sabotage efforts afoot?
Submitted by Dennis on
All the public commentary about your problems is more than a little bit annoying. I hope you find these comments useful: 1. To everybody who already has health insurance and is not affected by the new health care act, I have two things to say: (1) mind your own business and (2) if it results in your premiums being reduced, would you please admit that you appreciate the savings 2. To those elected officials who fought with every weapon in their arsenal to oppose the bill before it passed, litigated against it in the courts, and waged your ridiculous extortion campaign to "defund" it for the past 12 months, I am astonished that after you worked so hard to deny health insurance to the 15% of Americans who need it, your sudden recent concern for their problems with this web site startup is disingenuous and hypocritical to say the least. But that's nothing new. 3. The news media may have discovered a great new story to cover, but I suspect that citizens who shop online are familiar enough with overload conditions that occasionally compromise the services of companies like Yahoo, Amazon, AOL, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and others. When something is worth waiting for, Americans have proven to be patient. They sleep outdoors for days to buy tickets for Rolling Stones (Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears) concerts. They stand in line for hours to buy the latest iPhone, or meet the Pope in person. If something is worth waiting for, they wait. Health insurance is no different. 4. Any business gladly differentiates between good problems and bad problems. Too many customers is a good problem. It would be far worse if nobody wanted the product. 5. Health Insurance is not an impulse sale. Each candidate for coverage has many options to consider, plans to compare. All this takes time. For most people, it's a process that they need assistance with. Most people are quite comfortable using this initial period to study and learn. Those folks don't make headlines. 6. It's been made crystal clear that the open enrollment period only begins on October 1. There's no reason for anyone to think that "supplies are limited" and they need to rush to the cash register. Yes, people who have been without health insurance and need it urgently may feel a greater need to act promptly, but coverage doesn't begin until 2014 so they still have plenty of time. 7. Calls for Secretary Sebelius to resign are preposterous. She's the Secretary of HHS, not the Webmaster in Chief. Clearly, there has to have been some shifting of responsibilities as the web site problems are discovered and sorted out. If someone is incompetent, dismiss them. Bring in new talent as needed. Firing the boss won't result in anything other than a new round of confirmation hearings. Is the HHS secretary expected to have a command of Java, HTML-5, SQL, etc? Absurd! I live in a state (Texas) whose Governor fought hard against health care while running for President last year. He demonstrated his lack of qualifications to the entire country, and now, by refusing to accept the Medicaid expansion in the state with the largest number of uninsured citizens, more evidence of his willingness to jeopardize the well-being of people who didn't vote for him is on public display. Speaking for myself, I have health insurance coverage, but I am curious to see how the new marketplace may improve the terms of my policy and/or reduce my costs. I don't need my answers this week or this month. I'm willing to wait my turn.
Submitted by Vanni on
I agree with most of your points. I agree that a website not functioning should not/cannot be used to attack a policy (irregardless of its many flaws). However, a major difference between Amazon/Google et al. and healthcare.gov lies in the individual mandate associated with the ACA. If one cannot buy his favorite book on Amazon, that is annoying. If one cannot buy health insurance, he's breaking the law. Personally, that makes it unacceptable that the website was designed this poorly. Whether Mrs. Sebelius should step down over this is debatable, however, it is unacceptable that this amount of tax-payers money was spent on a system that does not work (and more importantly, it failed all of its pre-roll-out tests)
Submitted by Maggie on
Dennis-- Thank you for such a strong, sane comment.
Submitted by francislholland on
I concur, Dennis.
Submitted by Michael on
Brooks's law is a principle in software development which says that "adding manpower to a late software project makes it later".
Submitted by Anonymous on
Thank heaven you and the rest of my betters in DC are riding to the rescue. "Continue to improve" indeed.
Submitted by Mark on
When will the website be fixed? How much will this effort cost? How much is CGI giving the taxpayers back? We demand SPECIFICS not vague promises
Submitted by Michelle on
I am a lifelong Democrat and what you did was humiliating and unforgivable to those of us that have supported the ACA since 2010. The Republicans could not have sabotaged the site any better than the contractor you hired. I am disgusted and think you should resign now.
Submitted by Stephen on
DUH !!!!!!!
Submitted by Tom on
This is refreshing that Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services is finally admitting that they don't have a clue how to fix this problem and need expert management help.
Submitted by SCAC on
I work for a large health care carrier and an an ACA regulation specialist - personally I support the efforts put forth regarding ACA - the problem with the website however should have been tested and retested pre - release. It was a recepe for disaster by not admitting it was not prepared to open. It is all well and good that now they are bringing in all the Silicon valley experts - but why not before???? The government knows very well the Republican s are jumping on this and running with it. Unfortuately Kathleen will pay the price for the debockle. Too back cause she is doing an kick up job otherwise
Submitted by Barry on
So the president has brought in "handful of Presidential Innovation Fellows" with what qualifications beyond supporting an arrogant president who demands everyone do what he wants regardless of the Constitution of the United States of America? Since the president and others have paid or contracted a reported $500 million of taxpayer money to a Canadian company, note ZERO jobs for U.S. citizens, it seems the citizens have a right for a functioning product to service their needs as demanded by this administration.
Submitted by Anonymous on
Beth - The representatives that answer the Live Chat feature are located in the U.S. The call center is as well. None of these locations are outsourced.
Submitted by Beth on
Why is the live chat being answered by people in another country? This is an US healthcare act, and questions about how to navigate the web site should not be answered by people that do not live in the US, or are not US citizens. Is the call center being answered by people outside the US? I think the President and anyone involved in making the decision to contract out the live chat outside the US should be ashamed of themselves. In addition, with the high unemployment rate in the US its a crime that these jobs did not go to residents of the US. I printed out the chat I had last night and have sent it to several TV stations. I'm sure if Americans knew that their questions were not being answered by other Americans they would be appalled as I am. A small town Mid-western.
Submitted by Barry on
Jeff Zients looks like another political payoff position, i.e. "Acting Director at the Office of Management and Budget and as the nation’s first Chief Performance Officer" for an administration that has not passed a budget and has DOUBLED the national debt in 5 years.
Submitted by David on
Suggest the Administration look to the handful of state exchanges who seem to have their act in order. And actually understand health care on the ground. It's critical to get this right -- the ACA is in incomplete but really positive step forward, but get away from the "usual cast of Beltway" candidates and get real talent from the field
Submitted by Paul on
Will I be getting a reimbursement check for my portion of the millions if not billions wasted on this mess? Also who will be held accountable? I don't think that's to much to ask. I'll wait for your reply.
Submitted by Gene on
It's going to be well over a billion before the web site is anywhere near to work right.
Submitted by Kate on
Why not make the fix like the Manhattan Project & gather the best: Apple, Cisco, Oracle, etc. to make it right. Really, if Calif & Kentucky have easy to use sites, why not copy thetis, now?

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