Dems and Republicans bicker throughout “monkey court”, as contractors blame government, each other

Steve Watson
Oct 24, 2013

A contractor who worked on the website testified in Congressional hearings today that he had attempted to sign up for Obamacare to test the system, but that the website simply did not work.

During the House Energy and Commerce Hearing. Rep. Tim Murphy (R., Penn.) asked Andrew Slavitt if he had been able to log on to the healthcare website. Slavitt, whose company Optum handled the “enterprise identity management” or EIDM tool blamed for the initial traffic blockages, replied that he had indeed made an attempt to do so, but ultimately failed to sign up.

“I logged onto to create an account, was able to do so” Slavitt noted, adding that he selected the state of Texas on the healthcare exchange, in order to “test the system”.

“I just never received a confirmation email. It didn’t work.” Slavitt added.

He went on to blame the government for the errors, noting “it appears that one of the reasons for the high concurrent volume at the registration system was a late decision requiring consumers to register for an account before they could browse for insurance products.”

“This may have driven higher simultaneous usage of the registration system that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred if consumers could ‘window shop’ anonymously,” Slavitt said.

This theory has been tabled by many technical experts and some within the insurance industry since the rollout, with some indicating that the government demanded this feature in order to prevent those logging on seeing the prices of policies before registering.

“ was initially going to include an option to browse before registering,” Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal reported last week. “But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said.”

As reported by Forbes, a growing consensus of IT experts believe that “HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.”

Other contractors present at the hearing also pointed fingers at the government over the disastrous rollout, and even blamed each other for the faults, while individually attempting to deny responsibility.

Cheryl Campbell of CGI Federal, said there wasn’t enough end-to-end testing, and admitted that “there was no pilot program” before the website was launched.

Repeatedly blaming a “bottleneck” caused by Slavitt’s EIDM tool, Campbell also blamed Obama administration officials, saying the health department is effectively the “quarterback” on the project and therefore is the “ultimate responsible party for the end-to-end performance”.

While admitting that CGI believed the website to be ready, Campbell stated “We were not part of the end-to-end visibility throughout the system… It was not our decision to go live.” Campbell said that the decision was made by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Both Slavitt and Campbell agreed that they needed months to test the website and were only afforded weeks by the Obama administration.

When asked how the website could be fixed, Campbell said “If there was a silver bullet to answer that question, I would give it to you,” adding that “It’s the end-to-end aspect that is a challenge.”

“I cannot give you an exact date” she said when asked how long it would take for the website to be fully functioning.

Representatives bickered at each other during the hearing, with Democrats accusing Republicans of attempting to continue a sabotage campaign against the Affordable Care Act, rather than seeking solutions to the website problems.

“The Republicans don’t have clean hands coming here. Their effort is not to make things better,” said Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey. “Let the goal here be to fix it, not nix it.”

Pallone yelled at Republican Rep. Joe Barton (R., Texas), saying that GOP reps were “trying to scare everybody” with questions over privacy concerns relating to Pallone repeatedly refused to yield and denounced the oversight hearing as a “monkey court”.

Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called the rollout of the website “nothing short of a disaster,” noting that contractors at the hearing previously “looked us in the eye and assured us repeatedly that everything was on track, except that it wasn’t.”


Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’, and He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.

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