ACA web repairs expected by Dec. 1
Since opening for business this month, the federal exchange serving 36 states has been plagued by delays, error messages and hang-ups that have prevented many customers from completing their enrollment.
"With the new general contractor in place and the focus that we have and what we have seen over the last couple of days, we are confident that each week the site will get better," Zients told reporters on a conference call. "It'll take a lot of work and there are a lot of problems that need to be addressed, but let me be clear: healthcare.gov is fixable."
"As long as these substantial technology glitches persist, we are losing valuable time to educate and enroll people in insurance plans," the senators wrote.
The number of people using the federal website exceeded the government's expectations, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at a news conference Friday in Austin, Texas.
The U.S. government did final tests of the website just days before it went public, while similar projects are tested for months, the main contractors told a House panel Thursday.
The site previously had no lead contractor. It was built largely by a unit of Montreal-based CGI Group Inc. The UnitedHealth unit, QSSI, built a service called the "data services hub" that collects information about customers from other federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration, and feeds it to both the federal website and sites run by states.
QSSI and Oracle Corp. were also responsible for an identity management function used when customers create accounts on the site, according to people familiar with the project. Account creation was an early problem with the site; Zients said that 90 percent of customers can successfully complete that step now.
In its expanded role, QSSI is "overseeing the entire operation, making sure if one particular issue needs to be addressed, it gets prioritized and addressed right away," Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said on the conference call.
CMS had been acting as its own "system integrator," coordinating the work of 55 contractors and supervising testing before the site went live Oct. 1, Bataille said Oct. 24. That decision has been blamed for many of the site's problems. Bataille didn't directly answer a question riFday about whether QSSI would be the system integrator, instead saying the company's role is "akin to a general contractor."
On the back end, health insurers have complained that information they receive from the government about their new customers is inaccurate or garbled. Zients said that problem "is at the top of the punch list" of issues with the site "and it'll get punched out as fast as can be done."
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