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Sebelius to testify about Obamacare roll-out

President Obama admitted today what most Americans have known for several weeks: the Affordable care Act has been a disaster so far with the website plagued with a variety of problems. According to President Obama’s official address, "Yes, the website really stank for the first week." But Obama was not ready to blame Sebelius.

But supports of the President’s legislation say it has less to do with the program and is much more about technical glitches and software failures which can be fixed. Who is getting most of the blame? Right now that seems to be HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius who is expected to testify before Congress about the rocky Obamacare rollout a week from Wednesday. She will be joined by CGI and QSSI, who are the contractors who have been developing the Obamacare enrollment system.

Sebelius only agreed to testify after some strong arming by Republicans who have consistently criticized Sebelius, not only for the magnitude of the problem, but also for her unwillingness to agree to testify. The administration disagreed with that assessment stating that she was always planning on testifying but her schedule has been busy.

What does President Obama say about Sebelius?

In President Obama’s address to the nation he tried to refocus media attention from the website's problems and return it back to the legislation itself, which he continues to believe will be good when it is fully implemented. He spoke for about thirty minutes stating repeatedly "the Affordable Care Act is not just a website."

He also turned the public’s attention on what he considers the legislations greatest strengths: the end of pre-existing condition denials, better prescription drug coverage for seniors, young adults allowed to stay on their parents' insurance, and increased accessibility to preventative care.

But what the President and his staff continue to fail to address is why the website malfunctioned in the first place. He noted they have asked some of the “best I.T. talent in the entire country to join the team….Experts from some of America’s top private-sector tech companies.” Of course this begs the questions, with a roll-out of a program this large and important, why didn’t the administration ask these people to be part of the team from its inception? Why wait until the system roll-out?

What went wrong with Obamacare?

So what went wrong? Unfortunately, other than admitting "the number of people who have visited the site has been overwhelming, which has aggravated some of these underlying problems” the administration fails to acknowledge what problems the website is experiencing. But as Chris Weigant in his recent Huffington Post article noted, “Technologically speaking, the sheer volume problem should have been the easiest to fix…It's a hardware problem, not a software problem, to put it another way. Just buy more servers, and then hook them up and get them up and running.”

So clearly the excuse of too many people accessing the system is a weak one. But without more information, most people are left to simply speculate about what the problem might be. Some I.T. experts speculate Obamacare may have severe design and coding defects and this might be the result of hiring the lowest-bid contractor who did poor work. But some counter that the problems may be less technical and more political. If this is the case, someone should be fired over at H.H.S.  starting with Sebelius.
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