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Healthcare.gov contractors defend IT systems

Oct. 30, 2013 - 02:25PM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
House Holds Hearing On Affordable Care Act Impleme
Senior vice president of CGI Federal Cheryl Campbell, left, group executive vice president for Optum/QSSI Andrew Slavitt, corporate counsel for Equifax Workforce Solutions Lynn Spellecy and program director for Serco John Lau testify today during a hearing on implementation of the Affordable Care Act before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Developers who helped to build the website for people to buy health insurance under Obamacare testified before the panel on what had gone wrong to cause the technical difficulties in accessing the site. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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The contractor responsible for building the troubled federal health exchanges said at a hearing Thursday that the system should be fixed and capable of signing up all visitors by Dec. 15.

Cheryl Campbell, senior vice president of CGI Federal, which designed parts of Healthcare.gov, said at a House Energy and Commerce hearing that much progress is being made in fixing the problems that have caused log-in errors, long wait times and error messages since the healthcare.gov website was launched Oct. 1.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, uninsured Americans have until March 31 to sign up for health insurance before facing a tax penalty.

“We anticipate people will be able to enroll in the time frame allotted,” Campbell said.

She said the software does not have any fatal flaws and the system continues to improve every day as the company fixes bugs. Campbell said the initial problems were unanticipated, but added it is not unusual for large IT program launches to have problems.

“Every day we are finding challenges in the systems and making those corrections,” Campbell said.

Andrew Slavitt, the group executive vice president of QSSI, which built part of the registration tool, said while the registration system was initially overwhelmed by the number of users Oct. 1, the company has boosted capacity and visitors should now experience “error rates close to zero.”

“We are committed to helping resolve any new challenges that arise in any way we can,” he said.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the committee, said the website did not work when it was launched despite contractor assurances that there were no underlying problems.

He said the administration should delay the tax penalties to uninsured Americans until the website is fully working.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., said the initial launch of Medicare Part D was also plagued by problems but it eventually became an easy-to-use and popular program.

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