It's hard to imagine how the Politico's Kyle Cheney could have written up his Thursday story about the government's dissatisfaction with soon to be (but not yet) former prime HealthCare.gov contractor CGI with a straight face. But it appears that he did.
The opening sentence of Cheney's report is an absolute howler. When you read it after the jump, keep in mind that the firm worked on HealthCare.gov for well over a year before its October 1 debut, and that it was obvious to everyone within hours of its launch that the web site's construction had been horribly botched. So guess when the government wants us to believe it finally figured out that CGI wasn't up to its assigned tasks?
Here we go:
The Obama administration lost confidence in HealthCare.gov contractor CGI by early December and worried that huge unbuilt parts of the enrollment system could derail Obamacare and destabilize the health insurance industry, according to a document posted quietly by federal officials this week.
What a joke.
You can rest assured that plenty of people within the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services knew that CGI had failed within hours of HC.gov's launch. They just didn't have the guts to admit it and do something about it — which should have included stopping and delaying the launch, until untold additional millions of taxpayer dollars had alreadly disappeared.
Even then, it took until earlier this week, i.e., another six weeks after the light bulb went on in (cough, cough) "early December," for the administration to finally pull the plug on CGI. But it won't happen formally until February, and it will occur without any apparent contractual ability to claw back any of the money it has previously paid for unsatisfactory work. Beyond that, CGI, "checkered" track record and all, is still involved in other Medicare-related projects, and "unless CMS removed CGI's designation as a qualified bidder, the company could continue to compete for future CMS contracts."
Here's more from Cheney:
The document indicates that CMS officials lost faith that CGI could complete critical behind-the-scenes construction of the Obamacare website by mid-March, a critical deadline to ensure the stability of the health law and the insurance market.
Kyle, the critical deadlines were in mid- and late-December. We're over halfway into January. The healthcare industry is already "destabilized."
Supposedly covered and enrolled patients who have supposedly paid their monthly premiums, and who will supposedly continue to pay them, are seeing doctors and other medical providers who are supposedly in their eligible networks, and who may not get paid if supposedly enrolled patients stop paying their premiums. These providers are supposedly going to be paid by insurance companies who supposedly will be able to figure out whether the patient visits were eligible to be covered in the first place and will then. In turn, the government will supposedly pay premium subsidies to insurance companies relating to patients who are eligible for them. But they'll have to pay out estimates for what is supposed to be just three months because CGI from all appearances didn't even get started on building the system to do so automatically based on recorded enrollments.
Thanks to the chaos and confusion, patients are being told they have to pay up-front to receive services, and many are walking away from needed treatments because they don't have the money. Remember how Obamacare was sold on ensuring "access" to care?
I could go on and on and on. The media-related point here is that the government has already massively failed to do what it said it would. It won't admit it, and Cheney let it pass.
If a private sector client's project had been so completely botched, a contractor like CGI would more than likely have been shown the door months before launch.
Remind me: Why will the government be a superior manager of the healthcare sector's one-sixth of the economy?
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.