Did a Time Crunch Hurt Obamacare’s Exchange Rollout?
“Several critical tasks remain to be completed in a short period of time,” noted Gloria Jarmon, the Department of Health and Human Service’s Deputy Inspector General for Audit Services, in an August report on the status of the implementation of the cornerstone provision of the Affordable Care Act — the individual insurance exchanges. According to Jarmon, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, had delayed key deadlines by about two months.
While that study was primarily focused on the security of the online marketplaces, the inspector general’s report served as a warning for the proper functioning of the entire computer-based system. “They’ve removed their margin for error,” Deven McGraw, director of the health privacy project at the nonprofit Center for Democracy & Technology, told Reuters. “There is huge pressure to get [the exchanges] up and running on time, but if there is a security incident they are done. It would be a complete disaster from a [public relations] viewpoint.” Similarly, the Government Accountability Office found in June that while CMS completed many tasks needed to open the federal exchanges on time, “many remain to be completed and some were behind schedule.”