Administration Official: Obamacare Payment Systems Still Need to Be Built

The information-technology systems of Obamacare are still anywhere from 30 to 70 percent unfinished, an administration official testified today.

Admittedly, the answer from Henry Chao, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services deputy chief information officer, in a House hearing today isn’t really clear. At one point he seems to indicate 30 to 40 percent of the information-technology system supporting the Obamacare exchanges is unfinished; at another point it sounds more like he’s saying 60 to 70 percent. But the news is stunning either way: HealthCare.gov was launched with some massive parts unfinished, and they are still unfinished.

The stunning part begins about three minutes into the above video. Representative Cory Gardner (R., Colo.) asks Chao what percentage of the system remains to be built.

Chao says, “I think it’s, uh, just an approximation, we’re probably sitting somewhere between 60 and 70 percent, because we still have to build the systems–”

Gardner responds incredulously, “Sixty to seventy percent that needs to be built, still?”

Chao responds, “Because we still have to build the payment systems to make payments to issuers in January.”

“Let me get this correct,” Gardner says, “60 to 70 percent of Healthcare.gov still needs to be built?”

Chao responds, “It’s not really Healthcare.gov, it’s the federally facilitated marketplace.”

Gardner: “But the entire system that the American people are being required to rely on . . . ”

Chao: “That part is there. HealthCare.gov, the online application, verification, determination, plan compare, getting enrolled, generating enrollment transactions, that’s 100 percent there. What I’m talking about–”

Gardner: “But the entire system is 60 to 70 percent away from being complete?”

Chao: “There’s the back-office systems, the accounting systems, the payment systems, they still need be built.”

If is so far from finished . . . why would a delay in the individual mandate be so unreasonable?

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