Skip to main content wasn't the only bogged-down health insurance website. A number of states have struggled with the contractors who built their sites since launching in October.
While Oregon had been an early supporter of the president’s health care law, moving swiftly to set up its own online exchange for uninsured residents to buy health insurance, the website rollout has been widely panned. Cover Oregon still does not have a fully operational online exchange and enrollees have had to use paper applications. Last week, Cover Oregon Executive Director Rocky King resigned. In December, Oregon Health Authority’s chief information officer, Carolyn Lawson, who was responsible for setting up the exchange, departed. [...]

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said Wednesday that she is considering suing CGI over its work on the state’s exchange. Gov. Deval Patrick wouldn’t say whether he wants to sue but made it clear that he’s upset with the company. [...]

Just this week, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin told state lawmakers that he took responsibility for his state’s poor exchange rollout but shared the blame with the state’s main exchange contractor, CGI. [...]

The state has already withheld more than $5 million from CGI’s payments over the problems.

In Minnesota, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton lays the blame with IBM for not delivering the customer service the state promised to residents using its exchange, MNsure.

Politico frames this story as Democrats trying to pass the buck to place the blame for the bumpy rollout on "Big Business." But since these businesses were all contracted to do the coding, it's hard to not see that these Democrats have a good point. Clearly, at the state and the federal government levels, oversight was a problem since these horribly broken systems were allowed to go online and seemingly caught everyone by surprise.

In terms of broken software as a political problem for Democrats, though, this is kind of a stretch. First, the American people have moved on, and just aren't paying attention to this story to any real degree anymore. We're also a nation of computer users that is really used to broken software and frustrating system. Trying to keep milking this as a big political problem for the Democrats is not too likely to work.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 01:24 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (18+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 01:24:10 PM PST

  •  While it's true that repetition creates reality (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for many, the American public younger than 50 want to move on from one message to the next.   They do not clutch their I-Phones, tablets, and other electronic devices to their bosoms and swoon over what was just written; they are ready for the next thing, much like we move it along here on Kos.  The GOP has to come up with something new or continue to fade out.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 01:33:03 PM PST

    •  Yep (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dodgerdog1, annan

      Particularly since this is fixable. We've already seen it with the federal site and soon the states will be running more smoothly, too. Beyond the technical problems, people are going to discover that this new law really isn't ruining their lives and will just stop paying attention.

      All of which is why the Rs threw everything they had against it. Now that habit is so ingrained, I don't know how they'll stop it.

      "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

      by Joan McCarter on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 02:02:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are many more challenges in 2014 for the ACA (6+ / 0-)

      The websites were the first challenge for the ACA but it doesn't get easier once that is solved. In the short term there is still a big issue with completing the process so people are actually enrolled with the insurance companies, have their insurance cards, and can access the healthcare system. There are enough people still struggling through that process to make for plenty of MSM stories about their travails. We also have the hard deadline in March, 2014 or owe a fine. Will this chaos repeat itself as hundreds of thousands, or millions, scramble for coverage in a few week period? Then we have the whole in network, out of network physicians, physician groups and hospitals. Lots of stories about people with chronic diseases no longer seeing their physician who know all the medical history and how the hand off was fumbled to new providers. And, just in time for Nov 2014 the employer mandate with companies sending letters to employees telling them their group plan has been cancelled because it is not ACA compliant and that the employer is shopping but no guarantees that premiums, or co-pays won't require more out of pocket spending by employees.

      I think that 2014 will be about the ACA and its rollout and that the MSM will have negative stories all year long. There will be some very positive ACA stories as well, but I think we are naive to think that once the ACA website is fixed it's a winner in 2014 for the Dems.  

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:00:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  you know what's naive? (3+ / 0-)

        thinking that everything you described somehow didn't exist prior to ACA.

        Anyone who has ever dealt with an insurance company is familiar with it all. Anyone who hasn't because they never had insurance before won't be daunted by it.

        Doesn't make the problems you outline disappear. They're real. But the perspective is what we see now. Boring phase of the rollout, not all that many stories. But for those who are paying attention, pretty big numbers in terms of signout.

        everyone will be back end of march for that.

        "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

        by Greg Dworkin on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:55:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The core issue is whether insurance reform, (0+ / 0-)

          as ACA was touted to be, actually reforms the insurance industry. The industry itself wrote most of the bill, while many consumer advocates were excluded from the legislative process.

          Those of us who've been caught in the clusterfucks between the exchanges and insurers might point out that this landmark legislation's implementation could have and should have ensured that private insurers are actually worthy of receiving their $1 trillion in taxpayer subsidies over the next decade.

          The end of rescission is great. But that's the tip of the iceberg when it comes to problems consumers face with private insurers. Yes, the problems existed before ACA. But it isn't "naive" to think that insurers should be a tad more responsive to consumers in exchange for their $1 trillion payoff.

          •  actually there's another part to that story (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and it's thinking insurers got everything they wanted. Far from it. From Maggie Maher, a pretty fair look:

            Insurers “Had a Seat at the Table” when Reformers Hammered Out the ACA, but Things Didn’t Work Out Quite As They Expected . . .

            "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

            by Greg Dworkin on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:24:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  As the story says... (0+ / 0-)

              …"insurers got their mandate," which was the prize on which their eyes were focused. And the biggest insurers are the greatest beneficiaries in states where they're participating in exchanges, especially where one company holds a monopoly or in those states where only two insurers hold the entire state market. Aetna chose to stick with the employer-insurance market, where most of their business was concentrated anyway.

              Check out AHIP's 2008 proposal for healthcare reform, released shortly after Obama was elected president. Around the same time, Kennedy released his reform template, which was virtually identical to AHIP's. What we ended up with under ACA is pretty much a hybrid of AHIP's original proposal, when it comes to the nut of the matter (i.e., forcing citizens to purchase private insurance products with no actual dollar caps on the cost of those products). The new normals of extremely narrowed networks and high out-of-pocket costs were AHIP's cherries on top of the mandate.

              What we got was pretty much baked into the legislation from the beginning; it was a textbook case of regulatory capture. And that's setting aside stuff like the handshake deals with PhRMA that killed drug-pricing reform.

              Mahar clings to the rotating-villain theory of pinning blame on Lieberman, long past the time we now that Lieberman was not pressured to back off his opposition to Medicare-at-55; that drug-pricing reform was killed by Dems, not the GOP; and that the bill was passed ultimately under reconciliation, which made Lieberman's role in the matter moot.

              There are some terrific aspects of ACA, like expanded Medicaid and the new non-profit groups selling policies on the exchanges, and I think the path to single-payer will be paved with the smashing success of Medicaid expansion. But to pretend, at this point, that ACA was not an example of regulatory capture writ large is what I'd call naive, not the expection that Insurance Reform would reform insurance (particularly since that's how the legislation was politically sold).

              •  I think you're overplaying the insurance aspect (0+ / 0-)

                ACA was a compromise, all around.

                just my opinion as a single payer supporter.

                "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

                by Greg Dworkin on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 08:19:27 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  As a single-payer activist... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Greg Dworkin

                  …I'm focused on the smashing success of expanded Medicaid, to date, and also think it could be a potent campaign issue on the state level for the elections in November.

                  As to how the new models of subsidized private insurance turn out, that will depend on people's experiences with them. (And I think that will vary by region and plan availability.)

                  In any case, it's certainly exciting to watch!

  •  The state auditor is going to audit MNSURE (0+ / 0-)

    The problems here in Minnesota seem to be all too typical and they aren't merely technical.  The Director of our exchange had to resign over the publicity given to her two week vacation in Costa Rica in November right when the press was finally uncovering the fact that there were serious problems with MNSURE.  I mean I'm one heck of a liberal but never in my 40 years of work did I go on a vacation at the most critical period of a major project.  

    Dayton did react by pulling in a guy from some other agency who actually seems to be a hands on manager and knows how to talk to the press like he's got a plan to address the problems.

    The call center was a horrific problem as well and the press sure doesn't buy that you need to be a technical guru to answer phone calls.  You need enough people and you need enough phones.  They may even out source this next time and they probably should.

    I figure they'll get it right next time or they'll certainly try but as with the national rollout, project management was sorely lacking and the politicians didn't have a clue how difficult the roll out was going to be to execute.

    •  Bad oversight (0+ / 0-)

      all around. That's something to condemn, definitely. But that's not likely to rub offf on the Democratic senator of the state, who didn't have anything to do with the implementation at the state level, like Politico is basically saying it will. Particularly when the sites are all fixed and people are enjoying the benefit of health insurance.

      But some heads should have rolled in HHS. They did in some of the states, which helps.

      "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

      by Joan McCarter on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 02:06:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Increasingly... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, Chi, annan, jck

    as a retired IT professional, I sense that the problem is not in the exchanges but in the insurance company systems that are receiving the enrollments.

    It's time for government to stop covering for private insurance companies that can't get their IT systems ready on time.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 02:02:38 PM PST

    •  I think it was bad project management (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, Willa Rogers, ebohlman

      I think it was just totally underestimating the complexity of the project which was a lot more than a web site.  It was feeds.  It was customer service.  It was proactive testing and communication with the insurance carriers.  It was troubleshooting at a management level when things weren't going well.  They just were behind the curve and reacted way too slowly when things started to go bad.

      •  The insurance carriers (0+ / 0-)

        ...have no incentive to make this work.  Well, let me clarify that.  Some insurance carriers have no incentive to make this work.

        And the complexity of what they have to do with the communications routines depends on how they interface their own internal systems that require copies of the enrollment data.

        First of all, in 2010 there was little expectation that the federal exchange would have to handle the majority of the transactions at roll-out.  The whole point of implementing it through state exchanges as sold was to facilitate the roll-out.  And the last state to dump their exchange and the relations with their insurers on the federal exchange was North Carolina in July 2013.

        Second of all, the insurers got federal permission during the Bush administration to "customize" the HIPAA 834 data transaction.  Reconciling that took long negotiations with AHIP, BCBS Association, and other stakeholders--some of which were and still are opposed to the ACA.  So take their complaining with a huge grain of salt.

        Things started going bad right from the start apparently.  The HIPAA 834 issue supposedly caught the contractor (an experience HHS contractor) by surprise.  Take that with a grain of salt too.

        And yes, federal project managers are more than capable of screwing up stuff.  But I think that some of the more important players in the screw-up are being let off the hook.

        50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

        by TarheelDem on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:07:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is not the case (0+ / 0-)

          Your version of reality is that insurance companies have some kind of interest in turning down real money by making sure that they can't enroll new policyholders and take their money for premium payments.

          Unless you have smoking gun memos from management, of course, in which case criminal prosecutions or at least shareholder lawsuits would be in the offing.

          Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

          by Mokurai on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 07:38:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I believe our state had some trouble with the (0+ / 0-)

          HIPAA data transaction at least with some carriers, but that was just one of the problems.  I spent a few years in HRIT hell with large corporation open enrollment so I know the issues with small carriers and feeds and large carriers with inflexibility but I think the biggest problem was not understanding the scope of the project even in one state.  And when they designed this so every state could do it's own thing the feds were enormously complicating something that was already going to be a challenge.  

          But I don't blame tech.  I don't blame IT.  I worked too many projects with inadequate senior management to know how dazzled they get with the idea that some whiz kid from an IT contractor is going to wow them with a web site and they can just sit back and let it happen.  It's always the operations folks who wind up holding the bag and in this situation with a new program there wasn't even the operational expertise in place to catch the problems as they arose.

          And that's even best case because I'm seeing this from a true blue state where healthcare is valued even by Republicans so adding the obstruction and corruption to the mix from the red states and I guess maybe it really is a miracle that this is working at all.  

    •  It's both... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi, annan

      ….and what happens when you allow industries to write the legislation that enforces them. This entire process has been a textbook example of regulatory capture.

    •  THD - shouldn't the ACA websites have built (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaggies2009, annecros

      a way to have an electronic handshake for the insurance companies who committed to be in the exchanges? From what I am reading the information being provided from the ACA website needs to be re-entered by hand for many of these insurance companies. If you were the project manager I bet the electronic handshake would have been a task you would have had working when the ACA was launched.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:04:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The fact that they handshake (0+ / 0-)

        ...and get a confirmation of the enrollment from the insurer's system doesn't mean that the insurer has successfully propagated that information to all of their internal systems that require it.  Most likely an enrollment form doesn't get rolled over into a insured beneficiary record until there is a premium payment that has been successfully posted.  So where is that beneficiary information stored while it is awaiting payment and what happens when that person sees a doctor and the doctor bills the insurance company if that rollover hasn't happened?  Even if the person has proof of posted payment to the insurer.

        50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

        by TarheelDem on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:11:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am reading that the application information (0+ / 0-)

          has to be re-keyed by the insurance companies and that's why the backlog is so big.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:16:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That means (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            ...that they are not bothering to read the communication stream.  They are just rekeying the information they are getting in, bypassing the communications handshake.

            I think that it's time for Democrats to investigate the insurance company compliance on getting this going.

            It's not the first time that stakeholders played helpless in trying to sabotage a government program.  Specialists are still doing it with Medicaid.

            50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

            by TarheelDem on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 04:17:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I have been in the tech world in Silicon Valley (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              annecros, shaggies2009

              for 30 years but you could put all my software knowledge on the head of a pin. However, my experience with merging big data is that the engineers work on these handshakes and do a lot of testing to make sure that the files can be easily read and the new fields populated at high speed before anyone starts moving files. Why didn't the ACA and the state websites have testing protocols already tested and working with the small universe of insurance companies each state has to work with?

              Until I know more I think it's hard not to blame both sides.  

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 04:31:17 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Because there is not (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib, Tonedevil, annan

                ...a smalll universe of insurance companies in the federal exchange that serves 34 states.  For the state websites that are having problems, it would be helpful to know which states they are.  Likely not Vermont, for example.  At the other end of the spectrum, likely not California either.

                There is a universe of 1500 health insurance companies in the US.  I don't know how many submitted plans to states.

                What the insurance companies were doing is trying to break the DHHS firm deadline on roll-out.  What DHHS was doing was to get the roll-out good enough that people could begin judging Obamacare for themselves instead of depending on the fearmongers.

                IMO this was not your typical commercial rollout because of the political games involved.

                And yes the private contractor working for DHHS fell down on the job too by treating it as business as usual.  And they had no control over what the insurance companie did on their end of the communication pipeline.  And no way to force resolution of issues.

                And don't get me started about the loonyness of not having all federal IT work in-house.  The layers of contractors and subcontractors complicates getting anything done.

                50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

                by TarheelDem on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 05:03:36 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  THD - that's helpful (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  But don't you think it was unusual that there was no test data sent back and forth before the launch? Who would ever launch under those circumstances? it seems to me that on Oct 1st they should have launched the smallest state and then rolled it out gradually over the entire month of October, one or two states per day smallest to largest.

                  "let's talk about that"

                  by VClib on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 05:39:37 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I don't believe... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    that there was no test data sent back and forth.  It might be that since the HIPAA data transaction was supposed to be a standard transaction a sample test was done instead of checking out all insurance companies.

                    With a standard data transaction on the sending and receiving end, the major hassles would be propagating those transactions to insurers' legacy systems.

                    So you come up to September 25 and ten insurers say "We're not ready."   What do you do?  Delay the roll-out until those get their act together?

                    Who would launch under those circumstances?  I've seen a lot of crazy stuff go on in order to meet dates in private systems.  Rampant violations of what were considered best practices.

                    As for a staged rollout, I would have worked in reverse.  I would have rolled out the largest states (except maybe Texas), all the state exchanges that were tested, and picked up the smallest states later.  The largest states were likely to have BCBS insurers and other large companies that had large enough IT shops to get ready.  Smaller states likely had one insurer plus a BCBS if they were lucky.  Those insurers might not have the IT shop to get ready quite as fast.  That is why I would be interested in knowing which states and companies were having difficulties.  And quite frankly, the hand keying story sounds like a PR stunt.

                    I can tell what I think would be the most problematic state -- North Carolina.  Tenth largest in population; dropped the load on the federal exchange in August 2013.  Has BCBS plus a number of national and state insurers.  And no Medicare expansion, also dumped at the last minute.

                    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

                    by TarheelDem on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 07:30:59 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The rekeying is no PR stunt (0+ / 0-)

                      The digital data handover was a shambles. It is only going to get worse as the volume of applications increases toward the March deadline, even though some companies may get their act together in the meantime.

                      Also, that's Medicaid expansion in NC.

                      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

                      by Mokurai on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 07:51:14 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Yep Medicaid expansion in NC (0+ / 0-)

                        ...another sabotage job by the GOP.

                        Apparently insurers and providers are holding people for observation and billing for that time in a way that creates an out-of-pocket cost for patients.  Another rotten game.

                        50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

                        by TarheelDem on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 02:59:36 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

    •  I agree ... that's been my experience, too. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Willa Rogers

      Yes, I did get caught in the October to December website fiasco.

      However, it took a month after said "done!" in early December for Anthem to acknowledge that they even had my application.

      I tried calling Anthem on January 2nd. At the end of an endless press this then that sequence, Anthem's disembodied voice on the phone said: sorry, we can't help you please call back later ...

      Later that day I tried an online chat and Anthem said: sorry if you're application has been approved you are probably in the system but I tell you for sure ...

      Finally, yesterday on January 8th the first ACH payment was withdrawn from my checking account.

      Still, not a peep from Anthem. No paperwork, no welcome packet, no email, no phone call. Nada.

      I'm delighted to have affordable coverage. But it's been a bumpy ride so far.

      "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

      by annan on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 07:51:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am still caught in the space between having (0+ / 0-)

        applied and paying for the plan. I went on Covered CA Oct. 1 and many many times after that. The info on the site kept changing, and I was unable to find the information there I needed to make a decision about what to do. I finally got help from my insurance agent, who had been following closely the roll-out. She kept telling me things would be soidified by this date, then this date, then this date. On Dec 4 I sent my agent  signatures on a paper ap so she could send iit in and I could avoid the website. On Dec 6 the state said they could no longer take paper applications so she called me and said I had to enroll on the website as she knew they weren't going to get my application processed. When I finally got "enrolled" on Covered CA site, I printed out their "confirmation," which had no ID# or confirmation # or any way ffor me or the agent to communicate with Blue Cross that I was enrolled. In fact, the "confirmation" doesn't even have a date on it, but I think it was Dec 10 that I supposedly got "enrolled." Meanwhile, when you went to "make a payment" on the website, it took you nowhere. You could click a million times and still sit right there. The website gave no indicator of how make a payment. My agent said I had to wait for an invoice from BC, but that payment was to be made by Jan. 6 then delayed to Jan 15. It is now Jan 11 and I still have received no invoice from BC regarding my new plan. However, I did receive an invoice and new card for the plan that I had last year that BC had told me in October was going to be cancelled. They let me know in a letter I received Friday the 10th they plan to debit my checking account for almost 3 times the amount I'm supposed to pay for my exchange plan--which still doesn't apparently exist in the real world of BC. So if I don't pay by Jan 15 for what I "enrolled" in on the exchange but that has yet to be confirmed in the real world, I might have some coverage that BC decided to enroll me in without consulation with me at three times the cost. Whew. And I waited more than 45 minutes on hold with BC when their voice menu suggested my wait would be 10 minutes. I gave up. I didn't have any information from the "confirmation" that would have helped them find me in their system anyway.

        And yes, dealing with health insurance has always been a nightmare morass. I know more than most people since I depend on health insurance companies for the majority of my income via reimbursements for other people's insurance. This has just added another several layers of uncertainty, complication and wretchedness. Also, for the first time in my life, I am going to have to watch my income carefully to make sure I don't make TOO MUCH, as the few hundred dollars over 400% of poverty will cost me thousands in health insurance. (I'm a 57-year-old psychotherapist in private practice in an expensive Central Coast CA town.)

        So I'm not saying it's not "better" in some ways, but it surely isn't easier or less complicated or less frustrating. It is inconceivable to me how there has been FOUR YEARS  before this was implemented and yet we've had less than 45 days (since the website stabilized) to make it happen for hundreds of thousands of people. There will most likely be another crunch in March.  It boggles the mind why it had to be this way.

        •  Update. I got my request for payment today (0+ / 0-)

          for the exchange plan along with another request for payment for my supposedly cancelled policy. When I went to the website where the letter tells me I can make the payment, I get a screen message saying I'm being redirected. Then no redirect, but error 404. My letter is dated Jan 5 and comes from 4 hours south of here (rec'd on the 11th). The other option I have to pay is to send a check. Really? Four hours south and it takes almost a week to get the letter from them? And if I mail it Monday (too late today to find any mail service out without driving 10 miles into town) can I be sure it will reach them and be processed by the 15th? I suppose I'll just keep trying the website over the weekend. But to be redirected from a website that was supposedly the go-to site on Jan 5 doesn't strike me as a good omen . . .

    •  The IT systems were governmental! (0+ / 0-)

      The problem was government hired private contractors to do the job. They milked the contracts, fucked up the product and the government takes the blame.

      If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

      by Bensdad on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:10:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not going well in MD (0+ / 0-)

    Maryland Health Connection has been sputtering along as well. Aside from screwing up coverage for those that need it, it is starting to hurt not just Gov. O'Malley's 2016 prospects, Lt Gov. Brown (who was charged with setting up the exchange) is suffering in the primary race for governor.

    The legislature is back in session for the next 90ish days and one of the priorities will be to patch the system and offer back coverage.

    Brown's opponents have used the exchange execution against him. Haven't heard much from Attorney General Gansler on potential fixes, but Delegate Mizeur (sometimes diarist here) has offered 5 which she'll introduce in session soon.

  •  You should consider adding California (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Willa Rogers, Chi, annan, jck

    to this list. As I reported in a diary last night, things are not going so smoothly there either. We don't know how bad it is or nor who should shoulder the majority of the blame.

    If the President is taking the heat for, then shouldn't the governors of these states be taking heat for the state problems? Not trying to absolve the private insurers but the governors are in the position to step up and drive toward fixing this.

    "In text, use only a single word space after all sentence punctuation." - Oxford Style Manual, Oxford University Press, 2003.

    by shaggies2009 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 02:21:22 PM PST

    •  And California is held up as a "shining star" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaggies2009, annecros

      in the ACA rollout.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:06:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I choked on my coffee today... (0+ / 0-)

        …when I read that HHS has dumped CGI for Accenture to work on Accenture was the company that designed CoveredCa.

        The website itself isn't bad; it's the non-working phone lines and lack of clear communication that's the problem.

    •  I spent an hour and a half on the phone (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Willa Rogers, annecros

      to get partial answers to my questions. And they still couldn't guarantee the correctness of their answers.

      The webpage informs visitors that they're getting a lot of calls. There were three or four phone numbers I had to sort through in order to speak to a human being, only one of which was listed on the webpage.

      One big problem is that people trained to answer questions about the insurance side have no frickin' clue about how the IRS is going to enforce the penalty. Nor should they be expected to be experts in tax law. Yet they are supposed to answer questions about the penalty!

      And California is supposed to be a "success story".

      "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

      by limpidglass on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:31:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The penalty thing isn't that complicated (0+ / 0-)

        assuming it's based on the Massachusetts model. On MA state returns, there is a Schedule HC. You check off which months you had insurance, and list the policy numbers (and which family members were covered). If you had more than a three-month gap, then you have to do the more complicated part, which asks about coverage available to you and what it would have cost -- either employer coverage or Medicaid or subsidized Mass. Health.

        If you had affordable coverage available to you, but didn't take it, then you pay a penalty for those months. It's added onto your tax, so increases your balance due or decreases your refund.

        My understanding is that's how the ACA is going to work -- the form will compare the estimate you gave of your 2014 income to your actual income, recalculate the subsidy if necessary, make sure you had coverage at least 9 months of the year, and if not, figure out if you had an "affordable" option (9.5% of income or something like that).

        It's a form on your 2014 taxes, not 2013, so the form does not exist yet, nor do the instructions. I don't blame exchange navigators (who are not tax preparers) for not being able to explain this piece of it.

  •  I'm paying attention... (9+ / 0-)

    …and haven't "moved on" because I'm uninsured now for the first time in 20 years, at an age I can least afford to be uninsured, because of the ongoing clusterfucks between CoveredCa and Anthem.

    But by all means, don't let me get in the way of this week's "narratives."  The last thing I want to do is butt in on Christiepalooza or anything that would mess with people's beautiful minds, just because people like me can't get through to CoveredCa without the four phone nos. I have repeating the same recording before disconnecting.

    (Yes, I am a tad angry that I've spent 2 billable weeks' worth of hours talking to insurers and the state folks, have sent three different payments to Anthem that never posted but were somehow "acknowledged," and still don't have insurance after tackling this bullshit for two months now.)

  •  it's more than a little disgusting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for Democrats to be blaming the states and saying, "See, see, we're not the only ones who screwed up here, look at those stupid state governments who screwed up just as badly."

    This kind of talk is just needlessly divisive and feeds the teabagger narrative of a federal government constantly at war with the states.

    The federal government has ultimate responsibility, and it's at the federal level where the blame lies. Are this administration's supporters constitutionally incapable of admitting its responsibility without throwing mud on someone else to make the WH look better by comparison?

    I believe in the Union, I believe that the power of the federal government should be used to address national problems that the states cannot handle. Federalism is a key issue that separates the Democrats from the neo-Confederates that constitute the bulk of the Republican party.

    Evidently the administration doesn't believe in federalism, because instead of vigorously using the federal government's power to create a unified federal solution for the obviously federal problem of providing health care for all American citizens (the way FDR did with SS and LBJ with Medicare), it chose to pitch most of the problem into the lap of private insurers and the state governments, creating a highly fragmented, incoherent public-private mishmash that allows ample opportunities for Republican hostage-taking, predatory behavior by insurers, cronyism and corruption, and just good old-fashioned clusterfuckery.

    And once things started going wrong, the WH tried to wash its hands and blamed the very parties it insisted on handing the problem off to.

    This kind of behavior does more to damage public trust in the federal government than any ten Rush Limbaughs could. Because only delusional people listen to Rush Limbaugh, but reasonable people can see how the ACA rollout is going and are pissed off by the enormous gap between Obama's inspiring rhetoric and the sordid reality of the ACA and how little the federal government is interested in trying to fix it. And those reasonable people are the ones that will make the difference in elections.

    The failures of the ACA are fundamentally failures of the federal government. A law that allows the states such wide latitude in interpreting it that it hinders the law's purpose is a crappy law. If leaving the issue up to the states was enough to solve the problem, why did we need an ACA to begin with?

    No, looking for scapegoats at the state level is simply confessing the federal government's impotence and making the teabaggers' argument for them.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 04:17:38 PM PST

    •  The White House made the calculation (0+ / 0-)

      that doing it all on the federal level would mean the bill would never get through Congress. Insurance has traditionally been regulated at the state level, so both state governments and the insurance companies are used to operating that way.

      And the TeaPublican ranting about the federal government takeover of the entire health care system would have been deafening.

      And then the SCOTUS (at the demand of the GOPers) ramped that up by allowing states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion.

      So yes, a unified national program would make some sense (although Canada, I believe, does it by provinces). But politically that was not going to happen. The state-by-state patchwork was the only viable option. Was it a trade-off worth making? I think so (as one of the newly-insured). We'll know more in 5 years.

  •  i wonder how much (0+ / 0-)

    of this interference is by choice by some states that want to sabotage the aca before it gets implemented, checking the states involved would answer that question, red or blue.
    save america defeat all republicans  

    •  MN is all blue governor, state reps and senate. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AlexDrew, greenbell

      But MNSure has not gone smoothly.  Problems are being  addressed, but some of the problems were big and some are still outstanding.

      We are happy to have MNSure, but no one is happy with the rollout.

      "Hate speech is a form of vandalism. It defaces the environment, and like a broken window, if left untended, signals to other hoodlums that the coast is clear to do more damage." -- Gregory Rodriguez

      by Naniboujou on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:58:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Same with CA, OR, WA, MD and HI... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        …which have all suffered problems with their state exchanges.

        I think it's more of an issue of turning the projects over to private corporate contractors like Accenture.

        •  you almost have to believe (0+ / 0-)

          private corps don't want the roll out to be smooth, its not reasonable to think there would be this many problems in so many different states without some outside influence or agenda assuming the companies that got the job are competent.

          i'm probably wrong but something just doesn't meet the smell test here at least to me.

  •  Oregon... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    has been an unmitigated disaster, wrapped in a clusterfuck.

    Oracle really screwed the pooch when constructing the exchange, and Gov. Kitzhaber went all pissy when asked about it.

    Just disgusting all around.

    'I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things' -Edward Snowden

    by DFH on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:46:54 PM PST

  •  CT seems to be working fairly well (0+ / 0-)

    and, honestly, given the issues in the other states, I don't know why.

    I expect, based on a read from the insurance folks, to see their end fixed by end January.

    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

    by Greg Dworkin on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:59:10 PM PST

  •  I'm not moving on. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Willa Rogers

    I have been trying to get enrolled through Hawaii's Health Connector (state website) since October 1.  You get NOWHERE. And this is a blue state that supports Obama and Obamacare.

    I just applied for Social Security online and it took 10 minutes.

    I am not entitled to any subsidy and so I can and will apply directly through the websites of either one of the two providers in this state. But I shouldn't have to do that.

    Know this: Privatization means profits generated from deliberate fuck ups and the "change orders" they submit to get those deliberate fuck ups fixed.

    With this many different online systems, the chaos was foreseeable.

    I am not going to pretend the rollout was a huge success just because it was our side doing the rollout. It was a huge fuckup.

    If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

    by Bensdad on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:06:10 PM PST

  •  Joan, I see you've finally (0+ / 0-)

    realized that not only is screwed up but state exchanges are as well. These businesses were contracted to do the work, but the work scope was determined by the states as was the system design, therefore  government is responsible for the screwup. And no, as a computer user, I'm not used to broken software. Most software works pretty well. Non functional software is the rare exception, except when big government is involved.

    •  Google Search (0+ / 0-)

      "Microsoft Software Problems"

      Results: 85,900,000

      I think it is safe to say non functional software is not just the provenance of "big government."

      Que es ca se "blue screen of death?" :)

      •  Although you got 86M hits (0+ / 0-)

        doesn't mean that those hits describe different events. And those "problems" for the most part are probably not catastrophic. And yes, I've gotten the occasional BSOD with Windows over the years, fixed usually with a reboot, but it's been relatively rare. Some BSOD's can also have non-software causes, such as hardware issues. I'd say that 99.999% of the time, Windows has worked fine for me and for others I know.

  •  This just seems weird that there are all these (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    problems.  Do you suppose that it is on purpose?

  •  For over 20 years I did training analyses and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    designed training programs for company wide computer installations like SAP. I've also worked on projects where the software package was being originally designed.

    Not even one of them was completed without problems in programming and implementation. Not one. These were private companies, not government contractors, so blaming on the "government" doesn't work here.

    When multi-functional software systems are created and implemented, even using an existing package as the base for it, there are many things that can go wrong.

    You don't have one designer or programmer for these things, you have dozens and dozens of them, building multiple interfaces, adapting the packaged program for a specific client. And every interface has to mesh just right for it all to work.

    One of my jobs was to use the software so I could write end-user training. While doing this I tested the software as well. There were always little, and big, interfaces that did not work the first time.

    I am sure there must be other users of this site that have similar stories, probably from the industry itself. I'd be interested in hearing their viewpoints.

  •  End of Outsourcing (0+ / 0-)

    Let's hope this is the end of outsourcing government service, now that the public got a good load of what that actually means. "Let private enterprise do it! It's so much more efficient than government!"


    Ha! Okay, back to reality.

  •  Irony Detector off the chart (0+ / 0-)

    Conservatives not prepared to blame the private sector period, not surprised when the private sector is the answer.

  •  My (small scale) experience in software (0+ / 0-)

    development -- I can code and test a (small) application, pass it on to the testing team and fix the bugs they find, and finally submit it to deploy to production . . . only to hear, "Actually, we would like this widget to do this and this as well, and this other thing over here, and can you add another piece that has nothing to do with the original application? Oh yea, and we completely reshuffled the entire employee organizational structure, so can you tweak your code to account for that?"

    I suspect many of the state exchange problems result form "scope creep." Or rather, scope explosion.

    And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

    by Pale Jenova on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 09:34:09 AM PST

  •  fgsdafa (0+ / 0-)

    my buddy's step-aunt makes $82/hr on the computer. She has been out of work for 10 months but last month her paycheck was $18010 just working on the computer for a few hours. read this….

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