HHS announces bid to find actual programmers who can write functional code
October 21, 2013
More than two weeks after the hoax launch of the fake “shell” website Healthcare.gov which did not function, the Obama administration has announced plans to bring in real programmers and attempt to build an online federal health exchange site that actually functions.
A widely publicized HHS blog post calls this, “doing better,” continuing the absurd lie that Healthcare.gov only suffered from minor glitches and small problems that need incremental “improvements.”
At no time has HHS acknowledged the fact that the Healthcare.gov website is structurally flawed and suffers from deep design failures that cannot simply be patched.
The utter incompetence of HHS is obvious in its attempted explanations for why the launch of the site has been such a disaster. “We have made a number of improvements to the account service,” the HHS blog states. “Initially, we implemented a virtual ‘waiting room,’ but many found this experience to be confusing.”
Maybe that’s because the very idea of an “online waiting room” is laughable. Imagine if Amazon.com had a waiting room where you had to take a number and wait your turn before you could make a purchase. Or imagine if Priceline.com made you wait an hour or two before you could check prices from multiple airlines. Nobody uses the internet to sit around and wait for some poorly-designed code to try to catch up. That the federal government thought this was a brilliant idea is yet more proof that the people running this system still have no clue what they’re doing.
Obama administration suddenly decides to start figuring out where the errors are, two weeks AFTER the launch
To the great astonishment of programmers everywhere, Healthcare.gov was only tested for 5 – 7 days before launch. Yep, less than a week of testing.
At no time was the site subjected to any sort of intelligent error monitoring or debugging effort. In fact, HHS is now celebrating the fact that it has suddenly discovered debugging principles and will now implement them!
From its blog:
We’re …putting in place tools and processes to aggressively monitor and identify parts of HealthCare.gov where individuals are encountering errors or having difficulty using the site, so we can prioritize and fix them.
Gee, that’s amazing. It’s almost as if they think they discovered “software debugging” or something. I mean, WOW, you mean there are tools for figuring out where errors happen? Somebody should patent that!
“Hope and change” is not a software R&D process
In a professional software development project, strategies of error identification and debugging are built in from the very start and are part of the routine process of project development. Nobody in their right mind just writes $600 million worth of code and then “hopes” it magically works without debugging it along the way.
Obama is the master salesman of “hope and change,” of course, and now I’m wondering if that campaign slogan has been the actual programming mantra for Healthcare.gov all along: HOPE it works, and if not, CHANGE the programmers and then hope some more.
Right now, Healthcare.gov is way past the HOPE stage and has entered the realm of political disaster. So now HHS is invoking the CHANGE stage by, in their own words, “[calling] in additional help to solve some of the more complex technical issues we are encountering.”
In other words, HHS is on the phone desperately trying to recruit the knowledgeable programmers who should have been awarded the contract in the first place, three years ago. Instead, HHS awarded the project to a bunch of corporations with strong lobbying ties to Washington, practically guaranteeing the total failure of the system.
$600 million in cash outlays with nothing to show for it. That’s the truth about how socialist government truly operates.
Healthcare.gov may be faster to scrap and start over
I can predict exactly what these new programmers are going to tell HHS once they are brought in. After four weeks (or so) of examining the code and getting a full grasp of the scale and scope of the disaster, they are almost certainly going to say, “Scrap it and start over!”
Why? Every experienced, veteran programmer will agree with me when I say that when large, complex programming projects are pursued by incompetent programmers, they often pass a threshold of incomprehensibility beyond which fixing the code actually takes more time than writing new code.
By all accounts, the code powering Healthcare.gov is fundamentally flawed at the core, then worsened by disastrously bad client-side code that magnifies the design flaws on the server side. Fixing this is not a two-month project as is desperately demanded by the White House (because the enrollment deadline is December 15th for those who want to be covered as required by law on January 1, 2014).
This project is more like a two-YEAR project that will necessarily involve scrapping and rewriting huge portions of the code.
R&D projects cannot simply be solved by adding personnel
It is a universal truth in R&D that you can’t just throw programmers and money at a software problem and thereby solve it. First, you have to find people who are competent and experienced enough to even comprehend the enormity of the task. Secondly, you have to give them time to learn all the details of the current project, including its underlying data structure and user interface details. Third, those people must then build, deploy, test and refine the new code and data tables in a way that functions under real-world demand loads.
Realistically, FINDING good programmers, conducting interviews and sorting out the team of experts on this will take a minimum of one month all by itself.
LEARNING the project details and getting up to speed on the current status of the project could very easily take another month, and a more realistic timeframe on this is 2-3 months.
FIXING the code with this level of complexity and disastrous fundamentals is realistically a multi-year project. On the wildly optimistic side, this might conceivably be running smoothly by 2016. On the pessimistic side, the whole thing might never work and could end up simply being scrapped altogether — an act that will certainly be somehow blamed on U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. and the Tea Party.
It’s not just enrollment that matters
There’s more to this failure than just the enrollment side, by the way. That’s only the beginning of all this. After people are enrolled, their information and enrollment status must be accurately communicated with insurance companies, doctors, hospitals and clinics, all in real time as people show up at medical service providers and demand health care (or emergency care).
This is where the real Obamacare hits the fan, because a huge percentage of those who think they are enrolling in the system are doing so because they have pre-existing medical conditions which have gone untreated for years. Beginning on January 1, these people are going to line up by the thousands in front of clinics, hospitals and treatment centers across the country. They’re all going to think they have Obamacare insurance, yet medical centers are going to be unable to confirm their insurance policies because the Healthcare.gov back-end (server side) is broken.
I predict we are going to see a front-line health care nightmare scenario unfold in January, 2014. I also predict — and you can quote me on this — that many health services providers are going to declare they will “stop accepting Obamacare patients” due to these disastrous IT failures.
The fact that hospitals and clinics which choose to accept Obamacare patients will often not get paid on time because of IT failures means there will be tremendous pressure on health service providers to drastically cut the costs of delivering services to Obamacare insurance holders. Effectively, this means Obamacare is likely to be reduced to the equivalent of a “welfare health care” system while, simultaneously, premium health care services will be delivered to those who pay cash for higher-caliber health care. Obamacare will be to real medical care what day-old Dominos Pizza is to a deep-dish authentic, wood-fired Italian pie made with fresh Roma tomatoes and basil.
The quality of health care services, in other words, is about to take a plunge all across America. From the point of view of sick-care service providers, accepting Obamacare patients will be worse than accepting Medicare patients, and every medical clinic already knows that Medicare is the very worst system to work with right now because they hardly pay anything for services rendered. Providing services to patients covered under Medicare is practically providing them for free. Providing services to Obamacare patients may be a recipe for total bankruptcy.
Watch for huge growth in cash-pay clinics and medical service providers who, themselves, carry no liability insurance
Finally, I predict that with the implementation of Obamacare in 2014, we will all witness an explosion in the growth of “cash pay” medical clinics, where services are affordably rendered by doctors who accept no insurance and who deliberately carry no liability insurance whatsoever.
By my estimates, health care services can be rendered under a “no insurance / no liability” system for approximately 20% of today’s typical health care costs.
A procedure that might currently cost $10,000 at a hospital, in other words, would only cost $2,000 out of pocket in a cash-pay clinic.
The drastically rising costs of health insurance under Obama’s ridiculously-named “Affordable Care Act” means that for more and more people, it makes sense to buy only the minimum insurance required under Obamacare — or pay the IRS fine — and resort to cash payments for actual day-to-day health care services.
This is the only way Americans are going to get quality health care services: by bypassing the disastrous Obamanightmarecare system altogether.
By 2016, the realization will be obvious to everyone: If you want health care, don’t get Obamacare.