GAO: Obamacare Rollout Failures Due To Gross Negligence and Lack Of Management

President_Barack_Obama250px-Kathleen_Sebelius_alternate_HHS_portraitI have often lamented how there does not appear to be any real sense of accountability left in Washington. (For a column, click here). Billions of dollars are wasted or programs are run into the ground, but rarely are people held accountable. Part of the reason is the duopoly of power. Politicians have so convinced voters to adopt this red state/blue state paradigm that Democrats and Republicans will no longer tolerate any criticism of their respective leaders or parties. It is, to put it simply, nothing short of a scam. We have become so programmed by the respective parties that any negative story about our respective party automatically unleashes an attack on how much worse the other party is or would be in a given area. It is the same phenomenon that we saw during the Bush Administration where Republicans remained silent in the face of failed policies and poor administrative decisions. We have become a nation of apologists.

One of the greatest examples that I have previously discussed is the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Democrats deserve ample criticism first for a law that was poorly drafted and vetted (when I spoke on Capitol Hill before its passage, I said I was in favor of national health care but thought this was one of the worst crafted major pieces of legislation I had seen go to the floor of Congress.). After doing a uniquely bad job in drafting the law, the Obama Administration then did an absolutely appalling job in managing the program in its critical rollout despite years of planning and billions in costs. Now, the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) has completed its investigation of the disastrous rollout and found gross negligence that drove up costs and crippled the start of the program. The response? Crickets. Nothing.

The GAO concluded that the Obama Administration lacked the most basic management discipline in creating “effective planning or oversight practices” for Healthcare.gov — the key component of the rollout. Investigators found gross negligence with the Administration constantly changing directions to contractors, widespread confusion among Administrators, and millions of unnecessary cost overruns. It also included over 40 instances where Obama Administration officials increase expenditures without authority. In the meantime, insiders benefitted from the gushing of federal funds like Jonathan Gruber who received almost half a million dollars as a consultant. The government has spent some $840 million on Healthcare.gov and its supporting systems. Almost one billion on a website that failed.

Take the computerized sign up system. Thousands of companies have such systems in business. However, the Obama Administration drove up the costs from $56 million to more than $209 million from Sept. 2011 to Feb. 2014 and still produced a dysfunctional system. The verification system for information was allowed to grow from $30 million to almost $85 million. A contract for fixes to the website, also grew from $91 million in January to $175 million as of last month. Website fixes went from $91 million in January to $175 million as of last month. That’s right, the costs are increasing for such fixes. At any private business, such a record would result in massive firings and a stockholder revolt.

Contractors who were widely criticized for negligence were warned but ultimately paid in full. Take Virginia-based CGI Federal, which built HealthCare.gov. The system failed on the first day and led to a snow balling catastrophe. However, the Administration paid all of CGI’s $12.5 million in fees, withholding only $267,000. We previously discussed the company’s highly dubious record.

While the Administration and former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius later said that they were entirely unaware of the problems, that was obviously the problem. It was their job to be fully aware — not just to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at problems and hope everything was fine for the rollout. The problems were so extensive that contractors refused to sign off on the rollout. CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner had to personally sign off (an unusual act) because no one else would. Wasn’t that a bit of an indicator that the system was not ready?

None of this matters of course. For Democrats, any criticism of Obamacare is treated as a criticism of Obama in today’s encoded political discourse. Ironically, the negligence of the Obama Administration in the rollout helped worsen the view of voters toward the law and the Democrats. Disapproval of the law now stands at 55 percent and Obamacare is featuring prominently in the backlash. This could have been quite different if the Administration had done a competent job at the rollout. The Democrats are at risk of losing both houses and many of those losses may prove to be self-inflicted wounds from simple negligence and the lack of accountability.

Here is the report.

91 thoughts on “GAO: Obamacare Rollout Failures Due To Gross Negligence and Lack Of Management”

  1. And i would add the y’all favor the corporations right to pollute over the citizen’s right to clean air and water.

  2. And, you obviously have poor reading comprehension. I have an ongoing rant about sports stadiums being financed by taxpayers. I have stated several times the primary reason I voted for Nader, TWICE, was because of his derision for corporate welfare and how it is supported by the duopoly. The CORE of libertarianism is the TOTAL abolition of corporate welfare. This is intellectual dishonest @ it’s finest on your part. But, these are desperate times for Dem cultists. So, I do have some empathy. I earlier said “Step up your game.” I should have said, “Get a grip on reality.”

  3. SWM, “Fellow travelers.” Come on. I can think of no one specifically that favors corporate welfare. Paul, Karen, Byron, etc. all are opposed to corporate welfare. Straw man..err person.

  4. Never heard you or your fellow travelers on here express any outrage over corporate welfare. The only complaints I have seen from y’all are about poor medicaid recipients.

  5. SWM, In the two tiered system the producers would be subsidizing the socialist healthcare, they just wouldn’t have to be part of it. You know, like education.

  6. The duopoly supports corporate welfare. The Dems and Rep just support different corporate sectors. Although there is an overlap w/ both supporting some sectors, banking being one. Your Dem socialist slip is showing SWM.

  7. SWM, HOW MANY TIMES must I remind people here my utter disdain for corporate welfare. We libertarians are the strongest on corporate welfare. Geez, step up your game.

  8. “We don’t have socialism in our genes, we have competition, hard work, and achievement.” nick. Corporate welfare is okay I guess. since no one on the right complains much about that. Why subsidize healthcare when you can better spend the money subsidizing corporations according to the present day republican philosophy.

  9. And not only that but obstructionist to want to cause it to fail…..

  10. “Single payer, trains not cars,” and all of the pipe dreams of alleged progressives do not take into account the US capitalist culture. I know all that faux fairness and collectivism sounds so righteous, but it is antithetical to what made this country great. We don’t have socialism in our genes, we have competition, hard work, and achievement. A President w/ a philosophy of socialism and class warfare will not change that. I see a 2 tiered system evolving. Single payer for those who want it and the status quo for those who don’t. “There is no freedom w/o choice.”

  11. “At any private business, such a record would result in massive firings and a stockholder revolt.”

    The repeated and predictable result of government projects and services.
    No one there feels any pain for failure, they spend other people’s money, consequently no accountability.

    For what the system was supposed to do, a tried and proven straightforward expert database system and e-commerce site, it should have cost no more than $10M, and that is only due to its size. Just look at any existing service site and see how much it cost to create.

    But it is typical of expecting something to happen, only because you wished hard enough for it. Nature doesn’t work that way.

  12. I have some observations on this issue:

    1. Employer furnished health care plans have been declining in numbers for years, a trend that has nothing whatsoever to do with the ACA and everything to do with annual increases in health care costs greatly exceeding inflation rates. When I first began practicing law in 1973, my family coverage, paid for by my boss, cost approximately $75.00 per month with a $100.00 deductible. When I formed my own firm with two other attorneys in 1976, we did not consider group health care to be a significant budgetary item. That began to change significantly by the mid to late 80s. We eventually found it necessary to increase deductibles and require employees to pay for dependent coverage out of their own pockets. Health care coverage ultimately became the single largest expense in our firm (after employee salaries). So much for the free market.

    2. We will eventually have a single payer system because it makes sense. The ACA was an effort to increase availability of coverage, a perfectly honorable goal, but became a patchwork quilt largely benefitting insurance companies.

    3. The launching of the enrollment program was a mess. I’m certainly not going to try to defend it. But those who oppose the very notion of universal health care have been unceasing in their efforts to sabotage implementation of the ACA at every turn, and appear to take perverse delight in the thought that a botched launch would reduce the number of insured Americans.

    4. By the time the ACA took effeect, health insurance premiums for my wife and me were costing slightly in excess of $20,000.00 per year. I’d love to hear someone explain how average American families are supposed to be able to pay that kind of money. The ACA didn’t reduce premiums, but it did slow their rise. In addition, the requirement that 80% of premium dollars be paid out in benefits means that I have received partial premium refunds in each of the last two years.

    5. It’s time we acknowledge that the pre-ACA conditions were unsustainable, and unjust. We forget that in his Second Treatise, John Locke listed health as well as life, liberty and property in his description of unalienable rights. This country will eventually recognize that right, but not without much additional weeping and gnashing of teeth. So be it.

  13. p.s.
    About that Duopoly… We both know it ain’t gonna fix itself. It’s created a positive feedback loop of resistance to “change”. It knows if the lobbyist is cut, so is their future congressional retirement work dries up and they’re left going back to flipping burgers… LOL

  14. Nick Spinelli
    On this I agree with you…
    “this monstrosity the duopoly has created CAUSES exponentially more”
    I would disagree with the consumption of taxes, though.

    Can I suggest that costs could be cut for everyone by rolling it into a single payer plan? A Universal Health plan? There needs to be a mighty tided in this Nation willing to lift everybody’s boat. NO? Or are we to be resolute that some people deserve to be left in the dust… We already have a Universal Pension plan of sorts in this Nation… (If people can live well enough prior to retiring without going bankrupt or dying). I think if the taxes were used in a more direct and constructive format instead of rewarding middlemen for deciding who lives/dies we, you and I, would see a direct result in positive ways we both could benefit from?

  15. According to the latest figures, employer insurance is declining.

    Obamacare has increased premiums. The ACA-compliant policies required by the time the employer mandate hits are much more expensive. Hence, less employers are offering insurance, and will just get fined.

    Cause and effect.

    Liberal policies can have devastating impacts on small businesses. They destroy in the name of the “greater good.” For example, the average restaurant franchise owner makes about $90,000. Doubling the minimum wage would put that average owner into a loss of $180,000/year. Increasing premiums by a few hundred dollars costs that owner thousands of dollars per employee. There is no magic money tree that springs up overnight to pay for this.

    Cause and effect.

    http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/07/new-obamacare-enrollment-data-employer-based-coverage-declines

  16. John,
    I believe RTC intended that comment for you; he tends to just call me by my last name. Just in case:

    RTC, what specifically was said that prompted you to say: “you’ve demonstrated that you don’t have the slightest understanding of the constitution”?

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