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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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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 !!!!!!!