The Oct. 1 rollout of the HealthCare.gov website was clearly botched by poor management.
Senior officials at the Health and Human Services Department’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) failed to conduct sufficient load testing early enough. No single senior executive was tapped as responsible for integrating all the various working components of the website. And the Obama administration failed to quickly acknowledge publicly the extent of the problems or to address them candidly. Call center capacity was inadequate for the public’s demand for assistance.
Congress is holding hearings to find out what went wrong. It is important, if wishful thinking, that the focus of these efforts be constructive, not destructive. The Affordable Care Act stirs passions, pro and con, and it is tempting for many critics on Capitol Hill to turn this episode into a political circus.
But ACA is now the law, and millions of Americans, including those with pre-existing medical conditions who have been locked out of the health insurance market, are depending upon these health care exchanges to get long-awaited coverage. The priority must be on getting the HealthCare.gov website fixed as quickly as possible and learning lessons that can be applied to other federal IT projects.