“HealthCare.Gov: Much, Much, Much Worse Than You Thought”
Geraghty, Morning Jolt:
I know you’re probably growing tired of “the Obamacare health-insurance exchange websites don’t work” stories but this one leaves you gasping, “What?”
Amid all the attention, bugs, and work happening at Healthcare.gov in light of the Affordable Care Act, potential registrants talking to phone support today have been told that all user passwords are being reset to help address the site’s login woes. And the tech supports behind Healthcare.gov will be asking more users to act in the name of fixing the site, too. According to registrants speaking with Ars, individuals whose logins never made it to the site’s database will have to re-register using a different username, as their previously chosen names are now stuck in authentication limbo.
Delay Obamacare? Heck, at what point does this website start to count as a delay?
(Funny. I think I said something similar yesterday or the day before. Meaning it’s in the air, people! Part of the ethos! The growing cultural dialogic — ! Huzzah!)
And while the administration insists the performance is getting better . . . the evidence is scant:
The Obama administration promised “significant improvements” in accessing the federal health overhaul website this week, after taking down the system for maintenance. But many were still unable to enroll.The administration has refused to release the numbers for how many have signed up and media outlets have struggled to find people who have actually signed up.“It wasn’t designed well, it wasn’t implemented well, and it looks like nobody tested it,” Luke Chung, an online database programmer, told CBS News.“It’s not even close. It’s not even ready for beta testing for my book. I would be ashamed and embarrassed if my organization delivered something like that,” he said.They insisted we were in “Recovery Summer” when there was no recovery; they insisted there wasn’t a terrorist attack in Benghazi when there was, and now they’re insisting the websites are working when they aren’t.
The spin, like the website itself, isn’t working:
Seven percent of Americans report that somebody in their household has tried to sign up for insurance through the health care exchanges, according to an AP-GfK poll.
While that’s a small percentage, it could represent more than 20 million people.
Three-fourths of those who tried to sign up reported problems, though, and that’s reflected in the underwhelming reviews.
Overall, just 7 percent of Americans say the rollout of the health exchanges has gone well. Far more deem it a flop.
Wait, there’s more:
Overall, the poll found, 40 percent of Americans said the launch of the insurance markets hasn’t gone well, 20 percent said it’s gone somewhat well and 30 percent didn’t know what to say.
Just 7 percent said the launch had gone “very well” or “somewhat well.
Opinions are sharply divided on the overall framework of the law: 28 percent of Americans support it, 38 percent are opposed, and 32 percent don’t have an opinion either way, the poll found. When asked specifically whether the government should be able to require all Americans to buy insurance or face a fine, only about 3 in 10 Americans agreed, and 68 percent were opposed.
David Auerbach, writing at Slate, examines the contracting process behind this Frankenstein:
The front-end static website and the back-end servers (and possibly some dynamic components of the Web pages) were developed by two different contractors. Coordination between them appears to have been nonexistent, or else front-end architect Development Seed never would have given this interview to the Atlantic a few months back, in which they embrace open-source and envision a new world of government agencies sharing code with one another. (It didn’t work out, apparently.) Development Seed now seems to be struggling to distance themselves from the site’s problems, having realized that however good their work was, the site will be judged in its totality, not piecemeal. Back-end developers CGI Federal, who were awarded a much larger contract in 2010 for federal health care tech, have made themselves rather scarce, providing no spokespeople at all to reporters. Their source code isn’t available anywhere, though I would dearly love to take a gander (and so would Reddit). I fear the worst, given that CGI is also being accused of screwing up Vermont’s health care website…
The poor, confusing error handling indicates that there was no ownership of the end-to-end experience—no one tasked with making sure everything worked togetherand at full capacity, not just in isolated tests. (I can’t even figure out who was supposed to own it.) No end-to-end ownership means that questions like “What is the user experience if the back-end gets overloaded or has such-and-such an error?” are never asked, because they cannot be answered by either group in isolation. Writing in Medium in defense of Development Seed, technologist and contractor CTO Adam Becker complains of “layers upon layers of contractors, a high ratio of project managers to programmers, and a severe lack of technical ownership.” Sounds right to me.
Likewise, the bugs around username and password standards—for example, the fact that the username required a number but the user interface didn’t tell the user about it—are not problems of scale. They’re problems of poor cross-group communication.
Raymond Pritchett points to the public disclosure of the contract. If I’m reading this correctly, the U.S. taxpayer paid CGI something around $634 million to build this thing.Oh, and the administration was warned.“
A week into it, still a lot of glitches,” CNN correspondent Brian Todd reported to Blitzer. “People not able to create accounts, just to get information to possibly enroll, much less not being able to enroll in the plan.”“We’re also hearing now that the administration was warned about these potential problems months in advance,” Todd continued. “We spoke to a health care consultant who has clients who are insurers. He says his insurers, who dealt with the administration in the months ahead of time, had contentious meetings with people at [Health and Human Services] and other health care officials who were in charge of this, warning them, ‘This isn’t working, it’s not going to be smooth, don’t do it.’ He says those warnings were ignored, they went full speed ahead, and said we’ll work these problems out. There’s been a bit of pushback from the White House, we’ll hope to get more later from them.”“If they had three years to get this ready—if they weren’t fully ready, they should accept the advice that a lot of Republicans are giving them, delay it another year, get it ready, and make sure it works,” Blitzer said. “There are government health care-related websites that work great. Socialsecurity.gov, a whole bunch of others. They know how to do it. But if they didn’t get it ready on time, then maybe fix the problem, make sure people don’t have to worry about it.”
Other than that, the site’s great.
Listening to the blistering back and forth between TEA Party-elected Senator Ron Johnson and Mark Levin last evening, it is clear to me — though Johnson never said as much — that those who have attacked the Cruz / Lee strategy, including a handful of TEA Party-supported candidates like Johnson, Flake, and Kelly Ayotte, feel that the best way to reach the end game, the repeal of ObamaCare, is to let the American people feel its effects.
But the question is, why not convince the American people beforehand that the effects will harm them economically and, potentially, bodily — rather than allowing people to suffer to gain an easier bit of political leverage, one that no doubt will end with a compromise wherein the “good parts of ObamaCare are kept, and the rest is “fixed”.
This is perhaps a better political option for self-interested Republicans. But it doesn’t represent the best interests of their constituents. And therein lies the break between the two factions: the GOP establishment and the TEA Party candidates it’s recruited believe it is wrong to fight when, in the end, Obama will simply veto any defund or delay legislation that they can squeeze out of the Senate by bringing over a few Democrat votes. Or to put it another way, these politicians only fight battles that have predetermined numerical outcomes — which isn’t really fighting at all.
Whereas it is the Cruz / Lee strategy to remind people how the government can and should be funded — with individual appropriations — which the Democrats are rejecting, making them look petulant, dangerous, ideologically rigid, and sadistic. And in the end, if Obama has to veto a delay or a change to his signature health care legislation, he will have to do so knowing that 68% of Americans are opposed when the legislation is presented in a direct way: should your government require you to buy IT’S health insurance or face a fine.
The truth is, the American people being bullied and molested by the federal government over a 17% shutdown are beginning to realize that if the feds can inconvenience citizens, harm the economically, and remove them from their private property — with suddenly heavily armed NPS employees acting as their policing force — then we, the people, have ceded too much power to the federal government.
In short, it has been a wake up call — and it was because certain Senators and members of the House stood on principle that Obama and Reid and Pelosi, despite cover from the media, are beginning to look to the average citizen like we’ve always known them to be.
Why this is considered a “losing strategy” rather than an opening salvo that re-narrativizes the parameters of the discourse, is beyond me.
But only rhetorically. Because I know exactly why the timorous GOP is looking for another strategy: they fear being blamed for some backlash far more than they care about the entrenchment of ObamaCare, which they foolishly believe will collapse of its own weight.
And even if they are right, part of the reason for that collapse will have been the GOP’s willingness to “shut down” the government to highlight both the inequities in the law and explain to the American people just how disastrous it will be.
Meaning, the “fall of its own weight” crowd currently stabbing Cruz, Lee, et al., in the back with a sharpened White Board marker, will profit from the groundwork laid by those far braver and less opportunistic than they.
CYA is the guiding principle of the political class. Which is why it is so crucial to replace the permanent political class with principled citizen legislatures who will refuse to let DC go on acting like some force field for the status quo — for the protection of self-interested political animals living in a DC-centric bubble and growing rich and powerful off their government connections and the tribute paid them by cronies and corporatists.