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[January 11, 2014]
Report: Administration ends contract with company behind healthcare.gov [Examiner, The (Washington, DC)]
(Examiner, The (Washington, DC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The Obama administration is dropping CGI Federal, the primary information-technology contractor behind the glitch-filled healthcare.gov website, according to a report from the Washington Post.
An individual familiar with the matter told the Post that health officials will sign a new 12-month contract for $90 million next week with Accenture. While Accenture has done work on the online insurance exchanges for California, it has not yet done major work for the Obamacare website, the report said.
Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, would not confirm the report, but said that officials are "working with our contract partners to make a mutually agreed-upon transition to ensure that healthcare.gov continues to operate smoothly for consumers." "We continually evaluate our needs and remain focused on ensuring consumers have access to affordable, quality coverage, and more than 1.1 million already have enrolled in a private plan in the federal marketplace," he said in a statement to the Washington Examiner.
The decision to end the contract with CGI is the latest step by the Obama administration to rescue the flawed health care website, which has undercut enrollment in Obamacare and threatened the president's signature achievement.
The website launched with numerous technical problems preventing the vast majority of consumers from registering.
President Obama launched a "tech surge" and officials declared in December that the technical problems were resolved for most users, touting decreased error rates and a spike in sign-ups.
But the administration claims to have signed up 2.1 million Americans, well below their target figures. Insurers also say that there are lingering issues with the back-end of the healthcare.gov website that are delaying consumers from receiving coverage. Cybersecurity experts warn that additional software flaws leave consumers' personal health and financial data exposed.
Obama has said that keeping the website functioning, and addressing persistent bugs, will be a long-term process, and the Washington Post said health officials close to the matter were concerned about CGI's efforts.
House Republicans are voting on two bills Friday that will force the administration to provide regular updates on healthcare.gov and warn consumers if their personal information has been compromised.
Critics say the problems with the website highlight the unworkability of the Obamacare reforms, and say the administration should have paid greater attention to problems before launching the online exchanges.
The Examiner reported in October that federal officials did not allow testing on the website until a week before its launch.
Officials from CGI, a Canadian company, also had high-level access to the White House, according to visitor logs, leading some critics to question if the company had been thoroughly vetted before being contracted to work on healthcare.gov.
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