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FLASHBACK: ObamaCare's Rollout Disaster

- October 31, 2015

As Enrollment Opens For ObamaCare, A Look Back On Its Disastrous Launch Two Years Ago

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Today Enrollment In ObamaCare Opens For 2016 Coverage. "The yearly period when people can enroll in a health insurance plan. For 2016 coverage, the Open Enrollment Period is November 1, 2015 - January 31, 2016. People may qualify for Special Enrollment Periods allowing them to enroll outside of Open Enrollment if they have certain life events, like getting married, having a baby, or losing other coverage." ( U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Accessed 10/30/15)

WHEN OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT BEGAN IN 2013 IT WAS A COMPLETE DISASTER

The Original Launch Of ObamaCare Exchanges In 2013 "Deeply Embarrassed The White House." "The growing national outcry has deeply embarrassed the White House, which has refused to say how many people have enrolled through the federal exchange." (Robert Pear, Sharon Lafraniere, and Ian Austen, "From The Start, Signs Of Trouble At Health Portal," The New York Times, 10/13/13)

Time : "ObamaCare Is Off To A Rocky Start." ObamaCare is off to a rocky start. State-based insurance exchange web sites scheduled to launch this morning were riddled with glitches, rendering many unusable." (Kate Pickert, "ObamaCare Exchanges Riddled With Glitches," Time, 10/1/13)

  • The Morning It Launched, ObamaCare "Experienced A Range Of Technical Glitches." "ObamaCare's new health insurance marketplaces experienced a range of technical glitches Tuesday morning as they opened to enroll patients for the first time." (Elise Viebeck, "Technical Problems Mar Launch Of ObamaCare Exchanges," The Hill's Health Watch , 10/1/13)

"The Myriad Errors" Characterized The Launch Of ObamaCare Exchanges. "The myriad errors underscore the challenge for federal health officials in mounting the online marketplaces, which are meant to enroll millions of patients in the next six months." (Elise Viebeck, "Technical Problems Mar Launch Of ObamaCare Exchanges," The Hill's Health Watch , 10/1/13)

The Launch "Was So Rushed … The Exchange's Computer Code Contained Placeholder Language That Programmers Typically Used In Preliminary Drafts." "The introduction was so rushed that, as recently as last week, the exchange's computer code contained placeholder language that programmers typically use in preliminary drafts, said Clay Johnson, a former White House presidential innovation fellow during 2012-2013." (Mike Dorning, Alex Wayne, And Kathleen Miller, "ObamaCare Crashes Months In Coming Not Easily Repaired," Bloomberg, 10/22/13)

The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch "Went 0-For-51 In Trying To Apply Online For ObamaCare In All 50 States And The District Of Columbia." "MarketWatch went 0-for-51 in trying to apply online for Obamacare in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Well, really 0-for-15 for D.C. and the states setting up their own exchanges, and we also struck out on HealthCare.gov, which is handling applications in the other 36 states." (Russ Britt, "First-Day Batting Average For Online ObamaCare Applications: .000," The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch , 10/1/13)

Consumers Faced Long Wait Times And "Problems With The Application Process." "Early issues that some people are seeing include long wait times for accessing the site, problems with the application process and long waits to chat with customer service representatives online." (Jason Millman, "HHS: 'Aware' Of HealthCare.gov Issues," Politico, 10/1/13)

The Site Was Launched Despite Well Known Warnings That It Could Fail

The Obama White House Refused To Even Consider Delaying ObamaCare's Exchanges. "But Mr. Chao's superiors at the Department of Health and Human Services told him, in effect, that failure was not an option, according to people who have spoken with him. Nor was rolling out the system in stages or on a smaller scale, as companies like Google typically do so that problems can more easily and quietly be fixed. Former government officials say the White House, which was calling the shots, feared that any backtracking would further embolden Republican critics who were trying to repeal the health care law." (Robert Pear, Sharon Lafraniere, and Ian Austen, "From The Start, Signs Of Trouble At Health Portal," The New York Times, 10/13/13)

The Obama Administration Ignored Outside Concerns And Proceeded With The October 1 Launch Date Of The ObamaCare Exchanges. " Major insurers, state health-care officials and Democratic allies repeatedly warned the Obama administration in recent months that the new federal health-insurance exchange had significant problems, according to people familiar with the conversations. Despite those warnings and intense criticism from Republicans, the White House proceeded with an Oct. 1 launch." (Juliet Eilperin, Amy Goldstein, and Sandhya Somashekar, "Many Remain Locked Out Of Federal Health-Care Web Site," The Washington Post 10/9/13)

  • "Senior Officials Expressed Doubts That The Computer Systems For The Federal Exchange Would Be Ready On Time." "Confidential progress reports from the Health and Human Services Department show that senior officials repeatedly expressed doubts that the computer systems for the federal exchange would be ready on time, blaming delayed regulations, a lack of resources and other factors." (Robert Pear, Sharon Lafraniere, and Ian Austen, "From The Start, Signs Of Trouble At Health Portal," The New York Times, 10/13/13)

An Internal Test Of The ObamaCare Website "Crashed After A Simulation In Which Just A Few Hundred People Tried To Long On Simultaneously." "Days before the launch of President Obama's online health ­insurance marketplace, government officials and contractors tested a key part of the Web site to see whether it could handle tens of thousands of consumers at the same time. It crashed after a simulation in which just a few hundred people tried to log on simultaneously." (Lena H. Sun and Scott Wilson, "Health Insurance Exchange Launched Despite Signs Of Serious Problems," The Washington Post , 10/22/13)

  • "Despite The Failed Test, Federal Health Officials Plowed Ahead." (Lena H. Sun and Scott Wilson, "Health Insurance Exchange Launched Despite Signs Of Serious Problems," The Washington Post , 10/22/13)

According To A Person Working On The Exchange, "We Named It The Tyranny Of The October 1 Date." "People working on the project knew that Oct. 1 was set in stone as a launch date. 'We named it the tyranny of the October 1 date,' said a person close to the project." (Lena H. Sun and Scott Wilson, "Health Insurance Exchange Launched Despite Signs Of Serious Problems," The Washington Post , 10/22/13)

OBAMACARE'S WEBSITE WAS LAUNCHED DESPITE WELL KNOWN SECURITY FLAWS THAT ENDANGERED PERSONAL INFORMATION

In Launching HealthCare.gov, The Obama Administration Shunned "Industry Best Practices." "These issues, while small, go against industry best practices the administration says it follows. Security analysts fear they hint at bigger bugs in the system. Such weaknesses might not only allow hackers to access personal information but make it easier to engage in clickjacking - a process where harmful links appear like legitimate portions of a website - or pharming, where criminals direct users to a bogus site and take their information." (Jessica Meyers, "Security Experts Fear ACA Vulnerabilities," Politico, 11/5/13)

Soon, Additional Security Flaws Came To Light "That Would Enable A Skilled Hacker To Access Users' Email And Security Questions." "A software tester recently discovered a series of potential security flaws, including one in the site's password-reset function that would enable a skilled hacker to access users' email and security questions. Another allowed a password-reset request to send information to third-party analytics companies such as Pingdom and Google's DoubleClick." (Jessica Meyers, "Security Experts Fear ACA Vulnerabilities," Politico, 11/5/13)

The Part Of The ObamaCare Website That "Stores Personal Information" Had Not Been Fully Tested Prior To Launch. "Documents show that the part of HealthCare.gov that consumers interact with directly received only a temporary six-month security certification because it had not been fully tested before Oct. 1, when the website went live. It's also the part of the system that stores personal information." (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, "Health Website's Security Prompts Worries," The Associated Press, 11/6/13)

The Security Flaws Were Well Known Prior To Launch

"An Internal Government Memo Written Just Days Before The Start Of Open Enrollment For Obamacare Warned Of A 'High' Security Risk Because Of A Lack Of Testing Of The HealthCare.gov Website." (Joe Johns, "Government Memo Warned Of High Security Risk At Health Care Website," CNN, 10/30/13)

The Memo Noted That The Security Control Assessment Of The Website Was Only "Partly Completed." "'Due to system readiness issues, the SCA (security control assessment) was only partly completed,' said the internal memo from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 'This constitutes a risk that must be accepted and mitigated to support the Marketplace Day 1 operations.' The memo, which was provided in response to a request from the House Oversight Committee, goes on to explain that CMS would create a 'dedicated security team' to monitor the risk, conduct weekly scans and within 60 to 90 days after the website went live, 'conduct a full-scale SCA test.' The memo did not detail the security concerns. It was written by IT officials at CMS, and was sent to and signed by the agency's director, Marilyn Tavenner, who testified on Capitol Hill on Tuesday that she thought the website was ready to go when it began its crash-riddled rollout on October 1." (Joe Johns, "Government Memo Warned Of High Security Risk At Health Care Website," CNN, 10/30/13)

That Memo Also Noted That A Full Test Hadn't Been Conducted "In One Complete Version Of The System." "The Sept. 27 memo, signed by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Director Marilyn Tavenner, stated that while testing of security controls had been conducted on individual pieces of the HealthCare.gov site, the controls hadn't been fully tested 'in one complete version of the system.'" (Jennifer Corbett Dooren and Amy Schatz, "Data Security Added To Worries About Website," The Wall Street Journal, 11/1/13)

WHEN AMERICANS COULD GET COVERAGE THROUGH OBAMACARE, IT WAS QUICKLY APPARENT THAT THEY COULDN'T KEEP THEIR DOCTOR OR PLAN AS PROMISED

Obama In June 2009: "And That Means That No Matter How We Reform Health Care, We Will Keep This Promise To The American People: If You Like Your Doctor, You Will Be Able To Keep Your Doctor, Period. If You Like Your Health Care Plan, You'll Be Able To Keep Your Health Care Plan, Period." OBAMA: "So let me begin by saying this to you and to the American people: I know that there are millions of Americans who are content with their health care coverage; they like their plan and, most importantly, they value their relationship with their doctor. They trust you. And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what. My view is that health care reform should be guided by a simple principle: Fix what's broken and build on what works. And that's what we intend to do." (President Barack Obama, Remarks To The American Medical Association National Conference, Chicago, IL, 6/15/09)

  • PolitiFact's Angie Drobnic Holan: "We Found 37 Separate Instances Where He Said Clearly, With No Caveats, That You Could Keep Your Plan And That Got The Pants On Fire Rating, That Excuse." (CNN's "The Lead With Jake Tapper," 12/12/13)

PolitiFact Headline: "Lie Of The Year: 'If You Like Your Health Care Plan, You Can Keep It.'" (Angie Drobnic Holan, "Lie Of The Year: 'If You Like Your Health Care Plan, You Can Keep It,'" PolitiFact, 12/12/13)

Recognizing That He Couldn't Run From His Lie, Obama Gave An Apology And Offered A Reprieve

The Uproar From Obama's Broken Promise Led To "A Rare Presidential Apology." "Boiling down the complicated health care law to a soundbite proved treacherous, even for its promoter-in-chief. Obama and his team made matters worse, suggesting they had been misunderstood all along. The stunning political uproar led to this: a rare presidential apology." (Angie Drobnic Holan, "Lie Of The Year: 'If You Like Your Health Care Plan, You Can Keep It,'" PolitiFact, 12/12/13)

President Obama: "I'm Sorry That They Are Finding Themselves In This Situation Based On The Assurances They Got From Me." OBAMA: "I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me. We've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this." (Chuck Todd, "Obama Personally Apologizes For Americans Losing Health Coverage," NBC News, 11/7/13)


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