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Reuters: Obamacare Website Costs Tripled Before Launch – Was It Worth $292 Million?

“Let’s just make sure it’s not a third-world experience.”

This handout photo provided by the Brookings Institution, and taken on June 25, 2013, shows Health and Human Services Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Gary Cohen speaking at the Institution in Washington. A partial government shutdown next week would leave the major parts of President Barack Obama s health care law in place and humming right along. That s according to former Democratic and Republican budget officials, as well as the Obama administration itself. "Many of the core parts of the health care law are funded through mandatory appropriations and wouldn t be affected," Cohen, the HHS official overseeing the health care rollout, told reporters this week. Credit: AP

The deputy chief information officer at the lead Obamacare agency said at an insurance-industry meeting in March that he was “pretty nervous” about the exchanges being ready by Oct. 1.

Henry Chao added to his concerns: “Let’s just make sure it’s not a third-world experience.”

Chao's colleague Gary Cohen noted at the same event: “Everyone recognizes that day one will not be perfect.”

Health and Human Services Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Gary Cohen. (Credit: AP)

Everybody knows what happened on Obamacare's first day...and in the days since. But it turns out that along with the concern that the site's technology could be lacking, the Obama administration was pouring tens of millions of dollars more than originally planned into the site in the hopes that the additional funds could aide its launch, according to a Reuters review of government documents.

In fact, the contract to build the federal Healthcare.gov site tripled in potential total value to nearly $292 million as additional funds were sent to bolster the site's construction, Reuters noted.

In addition the contract to build Healthcare.gov, issued to the CGI Federal unit of Montreal-based CGI Group, has come under scrutiny after the site stalled within minutes of its October 1 launch, Reuters reports, leaving millions of Americans unable to create accounts or shop for plans.

In its third week, the Obamacare site continues to experience problems. Even Obama pals have ripped the site's launch, most notably former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, who called it “excruciatingly embarrassing” a hoped “some people” would be fired.

“Why this went from a ceiling of $93.7 million to $292 million is hard to fathom,” Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group that analyzes government contracting, told Reuters.

“Something changed. It suggests they ran into problems and knew last spring that they couldn’t do it for $93.7 million. They just blew through the original ceiling. Where was the contract oversight?”

HHS did not respond to Reuters’ requests for information about CGI’s contract.

Democratic lawmakers and former administration officials have proposed the government get help from other contractors to fix the Obamacare site, including from companies that built some of the more successful insurance exchange sites in 14 states that chose to run the marketplaces on their own, Reuters says.

(H/T: Free Beacon)

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