Tales from the Virtual Waiting Room

by Mark Steyn

In my weekend column on Obamacare, I mentioned CGI’s involvement with the Canadian Government’s most notorious flop of recent years – the national firearms registry. The database simply could not be fixed, to the point where CGI were commissioned to build a new, parallel database, which never worked either. John Fund’s column this morning suggests that IT guys take a similar view of Obamacare’s database (it’s not a “website” problem, in that whether you apply by phone, fax, USPS, Western Union or pigeon post, in the end someone has to process it using the same system that online users can’t make work). John includes this story:

Ben Simo, a former president of the Association for Software Testing, says he now has “zero trust” in Healthcare.gov. He had started an application on the site for a family member but abandoned the application, he wrote on his blog. The status screen showed that the application was left “in progress,” but then he received a notification that his application had been processed and his eligibility results were available. “How is it that my application was processed when I did not submit the application?”

When you don’t complete your Amazon purchase, that’s usually the end of it. But not with government:

Not only did they process an application I did not submit, the letter says they referred my application to a state agency — a state agency with which I did not authorize them to share any information.

And, unlike buying a book at Amazon, when a government website goes awry, it has potentially life-changing consequences:

“The decision letter I received says that I have ten days to appeal any decisions or I will be ineligible for coverage in the future,” Simo says. “Now, they’ve put me in a position that I have to get Healthcare.gov and a state agency to collaborate to withdraw the application I never submitted.”

Good luck with that.