Lawmakers from both houses of the U.S. Congress plan to investigate the details of the October 1, 2013, rollout of the Obamacare web site and launch of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, according to a letter from GOP officeholders sent to the head of the Health and Human Services Department on Thursday.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman, and Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a ranking member of Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, requested more information from Health and Human Services about what they called "the significant problems plaguing the launch of federal health insurance exchanges" established under Obamacare.
According to Andrew Couts, a writer for Digital Trends:
"It’s been one full week since the flagship technology portion of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) went live. And since that time, the befuddled beast that is Healthcare.gov has shutdown, crapped out, stalled, and mis-loaded so consistently that its track record for failure is challenged only by Congress…
"But the fact that Healthcare.gov can’t do the one job it was built to do isn’t the most infuriating part of this debacle – it’s that we, the taxpayers, seem to have forked up more than $634 million of the federal purse to build the digital equivalent of a rock.
"The exact cost to build Healthcare.gov, according to U.S. government records, appears to have been $634,320,919, which we paid to a company you probably never heard of: CGI Federal."
“We are concerned by recent comments to the media that the system suffers from architectural problems that need design changes,” Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Alexander said in their letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
“From day one… healthcare.gov has been plagued by what Administration officials initially referred to as technical glitches,” they wrote.
The letter claims:
“Among the many problems that have been identified in the media: many tens of thousands of people have started the application process but been unable to create accounts; the system that determines whether people are eligible for federal subsidies or Medicaid has made inaccurate determinations; the exchange will not be able to communicate with state Medicaid agencies until November; drop down tools and identity checking systems have not properly functioned; the web site bottlenecks at the account creation stage; insurers are receiving incomplete or corrupted applications; and insufficient capacity has been allocated for the website.“
The lawmakers' letter to Sebilius also requests more information about whether or not Americans are still expected to suffer an IRS-enforced "tax-penalty" if they fail to purchase government-approved health insurance.
“ObamaCare requires millions of individuals to enroll in government-mandated insurance or else face a tax penalty,” the letter states, however, “[t]he law required an online exchange be available by October 1, 2013, for individuals to compare plans and rates.”
On July 17, 2013, Marilyn Tavenner, the top official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS) gave testimony before Issa's Oversight Committee claiming that the Obamacare exchanges “will be open for business” on October 1st and consumers “will be able to log onto healthcare.gov, fill out an application and find out what coverage and benefits they qualify for.”