HealthCare.gov cost $840 million to build as of March, but the website still isn’t scheduled to be finished until December, according to congressional testimony.
The Government Accountability Office will release a report Thursday detailing the Obama administration’s failure to manage HealthCare.gov, drastically increasing the price of the Obamacare website and leading to its breakdown last fall. (RELATED: Report: Obama Admin Failures Caused HealthCare.gov Tech Flop)
GAO’s William T. Woods, director of acquisition and sourcing management, will testify to the House Energy and Commerce Thursday that the federal government had obligated a staggering $840 million by last March on building HealthCare.gov. The website is still not complete.
Federal Obamacare administrator the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services belatedly worked on getting the consumer-facing portions of the website up to snuff while the back-end of HealthCare.gov, part of which interfaces between the federal government and insurance companies, still hasn’t been finished.
Right now, the administration has a plan to finish the back-end of the website by this December, according to Woods’ testimony. Specifically, the financial management module, which sends payments to insurers, is “currently scheduled” to launch by December. But the next open enrollment period begins Nov. 15, meaning the administration will again have to start another Obamacare sign-up period without a fully functional website.
“CMS incurred significant cost increases, schedule slips, and delayed system functionality” for both HealthCare.gov and the Obamacare data hub, a computer system which communicates personal information about applicants across federal and state agencies, “due primarily to changing requirements that were exacerbated by inconsistent oversight,” Woods will testify to Congress.
The administration continuously changed requirements, delayed reviews, established “inconsistent” oversight over contractors and inappropriately authorized contractors to spend money. Even when CMS knew contractors were not performing up to their standards, the agency failed to hold anyone accountable.
Over two-and-a-half years of planning, the cost of building federal exchanges quadrupled, going from an estimated $56 million in September 2011 to $209 million in February 2014. The cost of building the data hub ballooned from $30 million to almost $85 million in the same time period.
The Obama administration didn’t learn from their mistakes, either. When CMS signed its contract with Accenture Federal Services in January to take over building HealthCare.gov from ousted CGI Federal, the cost was pegged at $91 million. As of June, CMS is projecting that it’ll have to hand over $175 million — and it could grow even more by the time the website’s finally complete.
Woods will testify to a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee Thursday, along with newly appointed top CMS official Andy Slavitt.