Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., chairman of the panel’s health subcommittee, said he wants to focus on the administration’s decision not to allow browsing, or window shopping. That’s a standard feature of e-commerce sites, including Medicare.gov for seniors. Lack of a browsing capability forced all users to first go through the laborious process of creating accounts, overloading that part of the site.
“Who made that decision? When was it made? Why was it made?” said Pitts.
In prepared testimony, an executive of QSSI’s parent company said the decision was made late in the game. It could have contributed to overloading the system, said the executive, Andy Slavitt.
CGI vice president Cheryl Campbell said the administration was the “quarterback” of the entire effort.
Meanwhile, Democrats are worrying aloud about persistent problems with the rollout. Rep. Richard Nolan of Minnesota emerged from a Wednesday morning meeting with administration health care officials on Capitol Hill and told The Associated Press the computer fiasco has “damaged the brand” of the health care law.
“The president needs to man up, find out who was responsible, and fire them,” Nolan said. He did not name anyone.
Likewise in the Senate, Florida Democrat Bill Nelson said somebody should be fired over the computer problems. “That’s the problem in government today,” Nelson told ABC’s Miami affiliate. “People are not held to account.”
Obama says he’s as frustrated as anyone and has promised a “tech surge” to fix the balky website. White House spokesman Jay Carney also said the administration will be more open about the problems. After more than 20 days without briefing the media, HHS will start regular sessions on Thursday, he said.
In light of the computer problems, some Democrats are saying Obama should consider extending open enrollment season beyond next March 31, and revisit the penalties for individuals who don’t sign up and remain uninsured. Under the law virtually all Americans must carry health insurance starting next year or face fines.