Top Obamacare IT Official Says 30-40 Percent of the Federal Exchange System Hasn't Been Built Yet


In a congressional hearing today, Henry Chao, the Deputy Chief Information Officers for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told Rep Cory Gardner (R-Co.) that 30-40 percent of Obamacare's Marketplace—the federal insurance exchange system that covers 36 states—has not been built yet. 

One of the systems that hasn't been built, apparently, is payment processing.

"We still have to build the payment systems to make payments to issuers in January," Chao said, referring to the insurance companies that issue policies.

That…seems like it might be an important element of the exchange. 

Watch the clip below (the relevant portion starts around 3:15):


This isn't the first time Chao has said that much of the federal exchange system still needs to be built. In previous testimony, he also said that the law's reinsurance system, which backstops insurers, has not been completed. 

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  1. So it will be working by the end of the month, right?

    1. “working”?
      What exactly do you mean by that?

      1. There will be *a* website up and running – ie you can go to healthcare.gov and see something other than a 404 error.

        Of course you won’t be able to *actually* purchase insurance, or get to see the right prices for your policy, or the correct subsidy you are eligible to receive but that doesn’t matter – that’s not in the ‘deliverables’ section of the contract for the end of November.

        1. Technically a 404 could be considered “working”… it’s returning a valid error code.

          1. All a 404 error means is that your browser is “working”.

          2. I think Sebelius actually tried to make that argument for reals.

    2. Yes. 80% of (muffled speech) will work.

      1. I’ve got the worst fucking lawyers.

  2. Also, If the payment processing doesn’t work yet, how can they claim to have a single enrollee?

    1. By defining “enrollee” to further partisan political claims rather than using the term the way actual insurance companies use it.

      1. I’m sure the lady in the news today counts as an “enrollee” even though she now knows she can’t afford it.

        If they haven’t paid, they aren’t a customer.

      2. Intent is reality. Obama intended for ObamaCare to offer insurance. Citizens intend to buy insurance by completing an application. Confusing matters with petty issues like “people can actually buy insurance” and “paid” ignores the good intentions and proves that you are just another Koch Sucking ReaThuglican.

        1. We only failed to resurrect the ghost of communism because you Rethuglicans didn’t believe hard enough. It doesn’t work if you don’t believe! Therefore you sabotaged it with your lack of faith!

          1. Submit to my authoratay! It doesn’t hurt so much when you stop fighting. Repent your sins against the collective and believe in the greater good.

          2. Submit to my authoratay! It doesn’t hurt so much when you stop fighting. Repent your sins against the collective and believe in the greater good.

            1. damn squirrels

            2. We’ve seen this before on YouTube videos of police stops: “STOP RESISTING!! STOP RESISTING!!!”

    2. You’ve been watching this debacle for how long, and now you want to talk sense?

      I’m pretty sure this whole mess was designed in Bizarro World and all the accomplishments come before the planning and work.

    3. They define “enrollee” as someone who has successfully created an account at healthfail.gov.

  3. Please, they just need to pay a guy a few million to add some PayPal buttons on the site. Noooo problems.

  4. Insurers can refuse coverage if they aren’t paid in a certain amount of time, no? Seems like a bit of an oversight.

    1. Coverage doesn’t begin until the first premium is paid.

  5. Have any health insurance CEOs been fired by their boards yet for buying into this money loser?

    1. No, and none will be. Obamacare provides for a 3 year blank check via the “transition corridor”, so they won’t have any issues until the next President is elected.

    2. Why do you think they bought into it? What was their alternative? Please educate.


    This just keeps getting better. It’s a fucking Potemkin Village!


    1. At least the Potemkin villages had lovely facades.

      1. Yeah, but they and this fooled some of the people.

  7. The guy asking questions clearly knows absolutely nothing about software development. The guy answering knows more, but not much.

    1. This is how we do government- executive agency officials who know just a little bit about what they should be doing while being overseen by congressman that know nothing at all about what the executive agency officials should be doing. It’s basically the legally blind leading the actual blind.

  8. At least it appears they are allowed to do concurrent versions. The government idjit in charge of the joke I “work” on doesn’t understand the concept, so he explicitly banned it.

    1. Wait, how do you do SW development with multiple people but without concurrent versions?

      1. You don’t?

  9. BTW, the real laugher is along about 4:30 when the guy says they’re going to test the new parts (when they get done) they same way they tested the existing parts.

    1. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Someone commit this man!

  10. 30-40 percent of Obamacare’s Marketplace?the federal insurance exchange system that covers 36 states?has not been built yet.

    This is how the Russians work.

  11. Look, we all can guess the outcome: hardly anyone will sign up, hardly anyone will ever pay penalties, and no one will be turned away from health care providers, and the taxpayers will end up holding the
    bag. In other words, the attempt to hold “free riders” even partially responsible will go by the wayside. Down the road is the end of private insurance and “free” medical care for all, paid for by
    running the currency printing press.

    1. no one will be turned away from health care providers

      No, plenty of people will be turned away as the shortages get worse.

  12. Some recent PPACA supporter quotes:

    “Obamacare can still be fixed!”
    … in the same sense that the Titanic theoretically could have been fixed during the few hours before it sank.

    “Obamacare is a gift to the Republicans”
    … in the same sense that an iPhone would be a gift to a monkey.

    “The health care law is worth fighting for”
    … in the same sense that someone you hate who has raging stage 4 cancer and 1 month to live is worth fighting for.

    1. “in the same sense that an iPhone would be a gift to a monkey.”

      You win.

      1. … in the same sense that someone you hate who has raging stage 4 cancer and 1 month to live is worth fighting for.

        Are you suggesting death panels? Or just throwing them to STEVE SMITH?


  13. I never thought Obamacare would.make me feel so.good.

  14. It’s a fucking Potemkin Village!

    Much like the crappy fake Rock Ridge at the end of Blazing Saddles.

    1. Howard Johnson approves of this comment

      1. Now who can argue with that? I think we’re all indebted to Gabby Johnson for clearly stating what needed to be said. I’m particularly glad that these lovely children were here today to hear that speech. Not only was it authentic frontier gibberish, it expressed a courage little seen in this day and age.

  15. So when they claimed that 27,000 people had “enrolled” in the federal exchange, they obviously didn’t mean that any of them had actually paid.

    This. Is Fucking. Hilarious.

    My bet is that NOBODY is actually able to make a payment by Dec. 15th.

    Holy God, the shitstorm is going to get an order of magnitude bigger. The Obama fanboys out there have no idea what is coming.

  16. Can’t pay the insurance companies??? FREE HEALTHCARE!!!!

    1. Anyone want to put odds on the probability Obama issues an executive order requiring insurers to cover people who signed up but can’t pay?

      1. Now we’re getting into Venezuela territory.

      2. I’m with pm on this one. He’s done the ‘write law by email’ a couple of times and gotten away with it, but simply deciding a company must deliver services minus payment is likely gonna get the stupid party’s attention.

        1. simply deciding a company must deliver services minus payment

          You mean, like how hospitals are required to give free treatment to everybody who shows up at the ED (or even in one of their parking lots)?

          Everybody seems cool with that, so why not give insurance companies the same deal?

          1. They’ll use the same argument they used for the shutdown:

            “But Congress already passed the law! Therefore they’ve authorized the spending! And consumers have SIGNED UP! So we’ll just guarantee the payments with government funds to backstop the insurers! ”

            This is how taxpayers end up holding the bag.

  17. 30-40 percent of Obamacare’s Marketplace?the federal insurance exchange system that covers 36 states?has not been built yet.

    Holy shit! Wait until Obama finds out about this!

    1. Won’t it have to hit the newspapers first?

    2. He’s going to be SO MAD!

  18. I hereby nominate Barack Obama for the Nobel Prize in Medicine, for discovering conclusive proof that laughter is the best medicine.

  19. Not to worry.

    I’m sure the insurers will be perfectly willing to accept pixie dust in lieu of cash payments.

    That can shovel that up right off the White House Obamacare “War Room” floor.

  20. It’s called a rolling launch guys. As in, you roll out the features over the course of a few years.

      1. Yeah exactly. Let’s just get this shit of the ground and then we’ll sort out any “supposed” problems” while we’re in flight.

  21. After cranking my Victrola to play “An Die Schadenfreude” for the 312th time, I suddenly got in a cold sweat realizing just how much of life for how many people this mythologically-scaled Kloster-Foch process is going to screw up.

  22. Wait, isn’t this headline wrong? In the testimony he says 60-70% remains to be done.

    Potemkin Village is right.

  23. So assuming Chao’s percentages of the amount left to complete are accurate, it took them a little more than three years to complete two-thirds of the site. So the last third will get knocked out in the next 10 days. They couldn’t say it if it wasn’t true. They were under oath.

  24. I’ve had an epiphany about how awesome the Obamacare rollout is for me! It means I never have to be competent at my job, far less strive to be really good at it. If the federal exchange is what we get from the best, brightest, and most well-intentioned, the bar is very low for the rest of us ordinary folks. It’s a relief.

  25. You didn’t build that.

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