More on Technogate

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.

10 thoughts on “More on Technogate

  1. “Republicans want Obama Administration officials to be fired, of course. That’s what they always want”

    Well I would think at this point the only viable option is for the president himself to resign, lets just call the whole thing off! Manchin is still trying to make up to the baggers for that background check thingy, he so sorry.

  2. The President should say, “Ok, we’ll postpone the mandate. When, and only when, you can guarantee the people that all heart attacks, cancers, diabetes, childhood diseases, etc., are postponed!”

    Again, it wasn’t exactly a century ago that W’s Medicare Part D fuster-cluck rolled-out – with far more confusion, and many more glitches.

    I remember that roll-out very well, because for the better part of two weeks, I spent breaks from my job in NC, and evenings, trying to figure out what was best for my elderly parents in NY.

    Maybe the douche-canoe’s in our MSM could do their fucking jobs and look through their archives for something similar, and, since it was only about 8 fucking years ago – so they wouldn’t have to dig too fucking far – ask the Republicans, “How did your unfunded Medicare Part D roll-out go? And isn’t this fully-funded program opening-up relatively smoothly, in comparison?”

    Our Fourth Estate makes me want to guzzle a fifth every day.
    Make that a liter.

  3. Yah, the fact that individual states have been successful is very, very encouraging. It means that all of the systems in the government and insurance side chains are at least capable of successful integration, which means it’s really only a matter of time before the federal system is fixed. If had no examples of working state exchanges, I would be much more worried.

  4. Another way you could look at it is that the whole problem with our existing health care system has been that it’s an “extremely complex array of systems that span multiple agencies.” The free market has given us a health insurance industry that’s basically a huge mess of ad hoc arrangements, so of course it’s going to take some doing to bring order from this chaos.

    Of course the glitches aren’t OK, but that doesn’t mean you just give up on the whole thing. That’s how you can tell if the critics are in good faith. As you noted, saying that the technical problems mean people with pre-existing conditions shouldn’t be able to buy health insurance is kind of a non sequitur.

  5. To your last point, I say we give them what they ask for: a one-year extension on the individual mandate, but DO NOT give them a one year extension on the pre-existing conditions clause.

    Let’s see the squirming begin when the Administration tells the insurance companies flat out that it was the GOP’s baby, and to discuss the unintended consequences with them…

  6. Dan, unfortunately, not possible. Or rather, possible, but it would almost certainly cause insurance to cost much, much, MUCH more, which would of course be blamed on Obamacare. Or, if the GOP is successful enough in convincing people that with no pre-existing clause and no mandate, no need to buy insurance until you actually get sick, they may just manage to blow up our entire health care system for good. Either way, not good.

  7. “Republicans want Obama Administration officials to be fired, of course. That’s what they always want”

    No-one was ever fired for failing to stop 9/11. No-one was ever fired for the Iraq fustercluck. Even suggesting that there were any failures or errors got you branded a traitor.
    But a balky website? (Non-Republican) heads must roll!
    I loathe these people.

  8. There’s a feature of government here that’s not properly understood. In order for anything to get done in Washington, some connected fat-cat has to get rich.

    CUND mentioned Medicare PartD. That included a clause that guaranteed the RX industry would ba able to charge the highest price to the government.

    Food Stamps has historically been tucked in the Farm Bill, and upon examination, the Farm Bill is a gift to aggribusiness. Small farms get a few crumbs, and those in need get to eat.

    When immigration reform was a possibility, the suggested gift to the fat-cats was a HUGE set of contracts to build a fence and surveillance toys – BILLIONS to the defense industry for crap that a ten-year old with paint-gun gear could take out.

    AHC is itself a gift to the insurance industry and IMO, the public option was dropped to keep a promise to the health insurance fat-cats in exchange for support.

    Anybody who wants to add on to the list (and it’s bipartisan), jump in. My point is that nothing passes in Congress from either party that has a significant benefit or price tag UNLESS and UNTIL a connected contributor cashes in. The flip side of the coin is the guarantee (I said guarantee) for any legislator who looses an election or retires – a 2 mil a year job (on average) with a lobbyist firm – as long as the legislator played ball with the lobbyist. Nearly half of the retired Congress is in this club.

    If you want stuff that works and legislation that is designed to PRIMARILY BENEFIT THE PEOPLE – you have to make it impossible for Congress-critters to cash in with fat-cats at any time – while RUNNING for office, while IN office or after they LEAVE office. Regardless of the blog substance or title – over and over – the root cause of the problem is MONEY IN POLITICS.


    Looks like the hook is already in and the only way to stop the pain will be single payer. There’ll be no turning back because Obamacare can’t be stopped. Everybody will have a stake in the game. The wheels have been set in motion. The cries to stop Obamacare will soon change to cries for a single payer system.
    The way the system is now is that it pits people against insurance companies and the concept of fragmentation.. and it won’t be long before people realize that their economic interests will be best served by unity and a single payer system.

  10. Ya gotta love that the “Morans” who so hated the PPACA that they’ve tried to repeal it over 40 times, are now so concerned about its rollout!

    “Concern-trolling” as a political art form!

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