The 34-page document, issued jointly by Senator Orrin Hatch of
Utah and Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, alleges that the White
House prevented the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
(CMS) from meeting website development deadlines by delaying
decisions on related regulations.
The report, which surfaced as Republicans seek to make Obamacare a
major issue in this year's midterm congressional elections, also
blames senior officials from CMS and the Department of Health and
Human Services (HHS) for ignoring evidence that the website,
intended to help uninsured Americans in 36 states find private
coverage, had serious issues.
"CMS managers clearly understood the extent of the risks to the
system, but chose to launch anyway," it said.
The assertion contrasts with public statements by officials
including former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen
Sebelius that claim the administration had no idea the site would
face major problems.
"We didnít anticipate the levels of difficulty that we ultimately
faced. We immediately worked to fix the issues and developed new
management processes," CMS spokesman Aaron Albright said in response
to Thursday's report.
The report cites an internal CMS assessment produced by the firm
TurningPoint, which concluded that only 23 percent of
HealthCare.gov's code had been tested at the time of the launch and
that the HHS agency responsible for implementing Obamacare had no
contingency plan for dealing with defects.
The Republican report is the latest to chronicle administration
missteps behind a policy disaster that helped pushed President
Barack Obama's signature domestic policy and Democrats to the brink
of political crisis late last year.
[to top of second column]
Online Obamacare health insurance marketplaces, which offer
subsidized private coverage to lower-income people, are the
cornerstone of Obama's Affordable Care Act. But technical glitches
overwhelmed HealthCare.gov for nearly two months until an emergency
technology team revamped the website by Dec. 1, raising doubts about
whether Obamacare would succeed.
The site later worked well enough to accommodate large numbers of
health insurance enrollees, and in the end, the administration and
14 states with their own exchanges signed up 8 million people in
private health insurance, surpassing independent forecasts.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Ken Wills)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.