Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, October 24th, 2013.

More on Technogate

Obama Administration

Via Richard Mayhew, there are some articles by tech experts at TPM discussing the federal insurance exchange website and why it is a mess. See “Misunderstanding the Problem,” which speculates — is basically just showing you your menu of insurance options, taking your order for insurnce, and bringing everything back to you when the order is complete. In tech terms, it’s just the front end. All the heavy lifting takes place on the back end, when the website passes your data to an extremely complex array of systems that span multiple agencies (like so many cooks in a kitchen). A central processing hub needs to get data from each of these systems to successfully serve a user and sign up for insurance. And if one of these systems — several of which are very old in IT terms– has a glitch and can’t complete the task, the entire operation fails for that user. Only if everything works perfectly, and the data gets passed back to the website, does the user have a good experience with

Basically, the biggest problem might be that the website needs various government legacy data systems to work together, and they aren’t. See also “Binders Full of Insurance Companies’ (Databases).”

Meanwhile, the contractor companies are blaming the mess on the Obama Administration. For example, one is blaming the Obama Administration for a last-minute decision (I don’t know how last minute it was) to make consumers create accounts on the federal site before they could start shopping. But based on what the tech guys at TPM are saying, that probably isn’t the problem.

And even if it was, did any of these execs advise the Obama Administration that the decision could cause glitches, and maybe that should wait? Or did they promise to deliver and then dump the mess on the programmers?

Republicans want Obama Administration officials to be fired, of course. That’s what they always want. I still say the most likely culprits are the executives from the contracting companies making promises their programmers couldn’t deliver.

It seems to me that if individual states have been able to get their exchanges up and running, which I understand to be the case, then the exchange thing is still do-able.

The Administration announced yesterday that people will get an additional six weeks to purchase insurance before the individual mandate penalty kicks in, which means they’ve got until the end of March. However, in the department of “when can we primary this turkey,” Dem Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has joined Republicans in calling for a one-year delay of the mandate. I wish someone would ask these clowns if they want a one-year delay for requiring insurance companies to take customers with pre-existing conditions, because that’s really what they’re asking for.

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