The federal government’s botched handling of HealthCare.gov cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, according to a new report by the General Accountability Office (GAO). The report will be officially presented tomorrow to a House subcommittee.
The GAO report faults the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which was led by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Sebelius announced her resignation in April following the disastrous launch of the government-run website, as well as revelations about serious security concerns.
Though the GAO blames federal officials for not correctly predicting and troubleshooting problems, the Obama administration has not made any public move to hold federal officials accountable.
The GAO says that by March 2014, CMS reported “obligating $840 million for the development of HealthCare.gov and its supporting systems.” Congress and reporters had repeatedly asked the government for total costs and breakdowns, but they were not provided. Freedom of Information requests I filed last year shortly after the website’s launch are still unanswered.
The GAO report also says that CMS approved allocating tens of millions of dollars in extra funds to HealthCare.gov contractors as problems mounted.
(T)he work was not approved properly,” says the GAO.
In March, President Obama claimed wild success, stating that 8 million Americans had signed up for health plans through Obamacare. In fact, the federal government has refused to release relevant documents and figures, but–in calculating its 8 million enrollment figure–it improperly counted patients who hadn’t paid. Furthermore, as revealed in my investigation in June, there are only an estimated 3.4 million previously-uninsured among the enrollees, much fewer than projected, providing reason for great “disappointment” among some Obamacare developers and supporters.
The Obama administration has, to date, declined to provide documentation showing how high risk security findings have been mitigated or fixed. Internal assessments prior to the website’s launch, as well as testimony from Obama administration officials after launch, documented the most serious form of security risk concerns associated with HealthCare.gov. Project leader Henry Chao testified he was unaware of the high risk security findings unearthed by the government’s security assessment firm.
A lead website security official testified that she recommended HealthCare.gov not be launched on October 1 due to the security concerns, but the official, Teresa Fryer, says she was overruled by CMS superiors. Fryer also reported last winter that at least two major security incidents had occurred after the launch. The administration responded by saying that any issues had been fixed and there was no cause for concern. However, the administration would not provide details or other public information describing the incidents and the supposed fixes.