Healthcare.gov Not Fully Ready for Round Two

The Fiscal Times
FILE - This Nov. 29, 2013, file photo shows a part of the HealthCare.gov website, photographed in Washington. If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don't give much thought to each year's renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises. Insurance exchange customers who opt for convenience by automatically renewing their coverage for 2015 are likely to receive dated and inaccurate financial aid amounts from the government, say industry officials, advocates and other experts. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick, File)
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Remember when HealthCare.gov was plagued with so many problems last fall that people could barely sign up?

Well, after nearly a year of significant repair efforts pushing the website’s price tag to roughly $840 million, HealthCare.gov still “won’t be perfect” and isn’t “fully ready” for next year’s open enrollment, officials said Thursday.

Related: HealthCare.gov Costs Climb to Nearly $1 Billion

During a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing lawmakers grilled officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about the website, the costs it has incurred over the last year, and its readiness for next year’s enrollment process.

“If there’s going to be trouble, I think the committee wants to know,” Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) said at the hearing.

Ahead of the hearing, the Government Accountability Office released a report raising concerns over the site’s current stability as well as detailing serious management and oversight issues at CMS that led to Healthcare.gov’s disastrous rollout last year.

William Woods, GAO director of acquisition and sourcing management, said in prepared testimony that if the agency doesn’t correct its management issues, “significant risks remain that upcoming open enrollment periods could encounter challenges.”

Related: Yet Another Obamacare Glitch Was Discovered

CMS is already in the process of rectifying serious issues with the website’s backend that produced millions of inconsistencies in hundreds of thousands of applications that has potentially led to people receiving the wrong subsidies.

Meanwhile, the agency is working out other issues to get the website’s front end in top shape for the next enrollment period beginning on Nov. 15.

“We are keenly aware of the challenges of Year Two in a new program of this scale, particularly one that faced significant challenges in its first year,” Andy Slavitt, the principle deputy administrator at CMS, said in prepared testimony. “It’s a bumpy process at times …. We’ve got committed people who by-and-large are doing a good job.”

Still he admitted “there will certainly be bumps.” 

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