HealthCare.gov Project Manager Sent Concerns About the Site Back in July
November 15, 2013 11:40 AM
Email exchanges were revealed by Republican investigators with the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee
The federal government's health insurance marketplace --
-- has seen a load of technical issues since launch, and a new report suggests that a federal official saw it coming.
According to a report from
, HealthCare.gov project manager Henry Chao sent an email out about the site's main contractor, CGI Federal, on July 16. The email is being seen as an early warning that the October 1 launch of HealthCare.gov might not go so well.
"I just need to feel more confident they are not going to crash the plane at take-off," Chao said in the email.
Email exchanges between Chao (who is deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)) and other CMS officials during the month of July discussed many issues with the HealthCare.gov site long before launch, such as staff shortages, problems with contractors and software issues.
However, a day after the July 16 email was sent, Chao told a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that HealthCare.gov would be ready on time. It's not clear why Chao changed his tune in front of the subcommittee.
Chao even emailed a video July 20 to CMS officials about his promise for an October 1 launch to the subcommittee.
"I wanted to share this with you so you can see and hear that both Marilyn and I under oath stated we are going to make October 1," Chao wrote in the email, which contained the video. "I would like you (to) put yourself in my shoes standing before Congress, which in essence is standing before the American public, and know that you speak the tongue of not necessarily just past truths but the truth that you will make happen."
But the HealthCare.gov website crashed shortly after its October 1 launch, and has encountered various technical problems ever since.
CGI Federal blamed another contractor's software and ultimately the federal government on October 23 for the website's terrible performance.
Republican investigators with the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee unveiled the emails in a recent investigation of the HealthCare.gov troubles.
Last month, Verizon's Terremark -- which hosts HealthCare.gov and allows uninsured Americans to both search and buy health insurance --
lost network connectivity
after a technical failure. The glitch also threw off a data services hub that connects a number of federal agencies and is used to verify people's identity, citizenship, etc. This verification is necessary to check if people are eligible for tax credits that cut the cost of monthly insurance premiums.
Microsoft offered its help
with HealthCare.gov's technical issues. The House Oversight Committee sent letters to others as well, such as Kayak and Verizon, looking for help.
President Barack Obama has called the website glitches
"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
Quick Note: Microsoft Offers Government Technical Assistance for HealthCare.gov
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