Since the beginning of October, citizens taking part of the Affordable Care Act services faced issues with the online healthcare exchange website. According to contractors at a House hearing, federal officials waited just two weeks before launching to test the program.
The Republican-led House has launched an investigation into problems that have plagued the online marketplace, giving fuel to critics of the Act and serving as a rallying cry for GOP members who want the law repealed.
At a four-hour hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a top executive for CGI Federal claims that the government was lax in completing full tests for the systems until two weeks before going live.
CGI Federal senior vice president Cheryl R. Campbell testified that government officials waited until the last two weeks of September to test the product, with the exchange going live on October 1. Another witness from UnitedHealth Group backed Campbell’s testimony with a similar claim.
Across party lines, the debate over the Affordable Care Act has heated up on Capitol Hill, just days after the government shutdown ended and the debt ceiling was raised. House Republicans who support repealing or altering key provisions in the law have banded together for what looks to be a tough fight ahead for the Democratic majority.
House Democrats have taken a bolder stance as well, noting that it took bipartisan effort to undo snafus for the Medicare program during George W. Bush’s final term in office back in 2006.
“The Republicans don’t have clean hands coming here. Their effort is not to make things better,” said Frank Pallone of New Jersey. “Let the goal here be to fix it, not nix it.”
According to reports, CGI and fellow contractor United HealthGroup could make a potential combined amount of $285 million dollars for their work on the marketplace site.
Representatives for the contractors said they would have preferred to have months to test the site instead of weeks, with Campbell stating that in a written testimony that problems such as the ones experienced by users are commonplace for new programs.
“Unfortunately, in systems this complex with so many concurrent users, it is not unusual to discover problems that need to be addressed once the software goes into a live production environment,” wrote Campbell.