US asks contractor to lead health website repairs

October 25, 2013
In this Aug. 1, 2012 file photo, Jeffrey Zients testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Barack Obama is calling Zients to help correct problems with the new federal health care website. The White House says Zients will assist a team that is said to be working around the clock on the site, (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The Obama administration said Friday that dozens of problems had been found in the website at the center of a landmark health care overhaul, and a private company has been asked to lead the repairs. Officials said most of the issues will be fixed by the end of November.

It will take a lot of work, but " is fixable," management consultant Jeffrey Zients said, but he stopped short of saying the problems will go away completely. He told reporters his review found issues across the entire system. One of the website contractors, Quality Software Systems, Inc., will take on the role of "general contractor" leading the fixes. was supposed to be the online portal for uninsured Americans to get coverage under the signature initiative of Barack Obama's presidency, which requires most Americans to have coverage by Jan. 1. The website was promoted as the equivalent of for health insurance, but it became a huge bottleneck when it launched Oct. 1 and an embarrassment for the administration.

The U.S. has been the only major developed country without a national health care system, and the overhaul was supposed to change that. The system is not the centralized, government-run setup seen in places like Britain and instead uses various ways to require or encourage Americans to get private or, for the poor or elderly, government-provided insurance.

What's known as Obamacare is the closest the U.S. has ever come to universal health care after a century of efforts, and it has been under heavy attack by opposition Republicans from the start.

Now, with congressional elections coming next year, Republicans are using the administration's handling of the troubled website launch to regain momentum after their effort to defund Obamacare led to a 16-day partial government shutdown.

Obama has said he's as frustrated as anyone and has promised a "tech surge" to fix the website.

The briefing from Zients came a day after contractors told Congress that the government didn't fully test the system until the last couple of weeks before the launch and ordered last-minute changes that contributed to clogging the system.

Next week, the head of the department responsible for the rollout, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, is scheduled to testify.

Administration officials are still refusing to release any numbers on how many people have successfully enrolled for health insurance. Although 700,000 have applied for coverage online, it's believed only a fraction managed to sign up. Prior to the website going live, the administration estimated that nearly 500,000 people would sign up in October alone.

Explore further: Obama defends health law despite chaotic debut (Update)

Related Stories

Obama defends health law despite chaotic debut (Update)

October 21, 2013
President Barack Obama said Monday there was "no sugarcoating" the problems clouding the online launch of his health care law, but mounted a firm defense of a system that will help define his legacy.

Obama: 'No excuse' for health care signup problems

October 22, 2013
President Barack Obama on Monday offered "no excuses"—and little explanation—for the cascade of computer problems that are marring a key element in his health care law and giving his opponents fodder to criticize his ...

Sebelius admits: Health exchange launch 'rockier than we would have liked'

October 17, 2013
(HealthDay)—U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted Wednesday that the troubled launch of the federal government's new health insurance exchange hasn't gone as planned.

For Obama, a frustrating health care rollout (Update)

October 20, 2013
President Barack Obama is expected Monday to address the problem-plagued rollout of his signature health care legislation, which has suffered an embarrassing start with a cascade of computer problems plaguing online sign-ups ...

NY state health care website slammed with 30M hits

October 2, 2013
New York's website to allow the uninsured to shop for health insurance under the nation's new health care law has struggled under the surge of nearly 30 million hits in two days.

US Republicans vow no let up on 'Obamacare' (Update)

October 22, 2013
Republicans revived attacks against their favorite target "Obamacare" Tuesday by seizing on technical failures to try to delay its rollout, amid some fraying of Democratic support for the health care reforms.

Recommended for you

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

Scientists develop new supplement that can repair, rejuvenate muscles in older adults

July 18, 2017
Whey protein supplements aren't just for gym buffs according to new research from McMaster university. When taken on a regular basis, a combination of these and other ingredients in a ready-to-drink formula have been found ...

Study: Eating at 'wrong time' affects body weight, circadian rhythms

July 18, 2017
A new high-precision feeding system for lab mice reinforces the idea that the time of day food is eaten is more critical to weight loss than the amount of calories ingested.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (6) Oct 25, 2013
I'm sure Obama is going to hold the person responsible for this debacle accountable, just like he held the person responsible for the IRS going after his political enemies, just like he held the person responsible for Benghazi, and of course how he held the person responsible for Fast and Furious, what about the DOJ scandals, like he held accountable the person(s) who leaked secret information that hurt our (former) friends.

And the 5'th columnist media, the ones who are joining (or want to join) his administration in droves, of course they will report fairly, they want to get to the bottom of this scandal just like they did for every other Obama scandal. Oh, the reporters that actually report.... the police, the DOJ, the IRS, they are planning on knocking on your door.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.