Feds didn't provide enough time to test Obamacare website, contractors testify

Feds didn't provide enough time to test Obamacare website, contractors testify

The federal agency tasked with building the health insurance exchange website for Obamacare did not provide enough time for end-to-end testing before it was launched, contractors who worked on the project told lawmakers on Thursday.

Testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, representatives from two companies that were instrumental to building HealthCare.gov said they should have tested it for months, but were given only weeks before it went live. The site has been riddled with glitches and inaccessibility problems since its Oct. 1 launch.

Testing for the site occurred only “in the last two weeks of September,” CGI Federal Senior Vice President Cheryl Campbell said.

“It would have been better to have more time,” Campbell said. “This is by far the most complex (online system) in our country in a very long time.”

Andrew Slavitt, the executive vice president of Optum/QSSI, the company that built the site’s Data Services Hub, testified that federal authorities at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services were made aware that more testing was necessary. Neither Slavitt nor Campbell proposed that the launch be delayed, however.

“We informed CMS that more testing was necessary,” said Slavitt, who told the panel that even he was unable to complete the application process on the site.

“Months would have been nice” to test the complicated website, he said.

The poor functionality of the federal website, which serves as the online hub for Americans seeking to buy insurance in 36 states under the health care law, has become the main focus of the law’s rollout. According to the law’s mandates, all Americans must prove they have health insurance by March 31 or pay a penalty.

Earlier in their testimony, Slavitt and Campbell both assured lawmakers that problems with the site will be fixed in time for people to purchase plans before the deadline.