The Obama administration is letting health insurers test HealthCare.gov before its second launch in November, but it’s forcing them to keep mum on the results, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services allowed insurance companies to begin testing on Tuesday, but issued a warning instructing them that the results of all tests are strictly between them and the federal government — and certainly not the media.
CMS sent out an email Monday requiring “all testers to acknowledge the confidentiality of this process in order to access the testing environment.”
Insurers won’t be allowed to “use, disclose, describe, post to a public form, or in any way share Test Data with any person or entity, including but not limited to the media.”
A CMS spokesman told the WSJ that it didn’t require any such agreement last year, before HealthCare.gov’s big flop. Insurance executives had some of the earliest reports that the federal Obamacare exchange wasn’t ready to serve customers.
Last year, the administration and insurers only put HealthCare.gov through limited testing before it launched after federal officials fell far behind schedule in building the exchange. This year’s extended testing period is supposed to help avert the same problems the website faced last year.
The spokesman said the reason for the gag order is that the testing “involves access to proprietary information and secure systems over several weeks, and we wanted to ensure testers understood to treat this information confidentially.”
With a website that failed spectacularly during its first launch, however, the Obama administration may want to tamp down on reports that its second try will be anything but successful — especially in the last several weeks before midterm elections. (RELATED: HealthCare.gov 2.0 Still Won’t Show Whether Your Doctor’s Covered)