Obamacare website fixes will meet deadlines, contractors say

Chris Moody
Witnesses are pictured during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in Washington
(L-R) Cheryl Campbell, Senior Vice President of CGI Federal, Andrew Slavitt, Executive Vice President for Optum/QSSI, Lynn Spellecy, corporate counsel for Equifax Workforce Solutions and John Lau, program director for Serco, are pictured at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 24, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS HEALTH)

The glitch-ridden website built for people to purchase compulsory health insurance under the Affordable Care Act will be fixed in time for applicants to enroll in plans before the law’s deadline to sign up, contractors who built the site assured lawmakers on Thursday.

“The experience will be improved as we go forward, and people will be able to enroll by the Dec. 15 time frame,” Cheryl Campbell, senior vice president for CGI Federal, the company that helped build the government website, told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “We’re seeing improvements day over day.” (People who want their coverage to become effective Jan. 1 must enroll by Dec. 15.)

The launch of HealthCare.gov has been fraught with accessibility problems since it launched Oct. 1. Users have complained that they are unable to create accounts or complete the application process to buy insurance from companies participating in the new government-run marketplace.

On Thursday, the Republican-majority committee questioned four private contractors who coordinated with the Department of Health and Human Services to build the site about why the site has so many early problems.

The contractors testified that their contributions to the site had tested well before the launch and that they had not recommended that the site launch be delayed.

Despite assurance that the website would be fixed in time, the White House on Wednesday night announced that applicants would be able to sign up for insurance until March 1, 2014 — the original deadline was Jan. 1 — without facing a penalty. Republicans and even some Democrats, meanwhile, have called for the law's individual mandate to purchase insurance to be delayed for at least a year because of the problems.

The federal government plans to announce official enrollment numbers by mid-November, officials said.