Just a day after the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) testified in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that everything was on track as far as CMS was concerned in implementing Obamacare, a Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHSOIG) report concluded that CMS was behind schedule on testing key information technology security necessary for the automated rollout of key parts of Obamacare. Without this security system, the personal information of tens of millions of people may be exposed.
Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, testified in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on August 1 and she testified that everything was on track for the impending rollout of Obamacare.
“Sixty days from now is the beginning of open enrollment when Americans will be able to compare and enroll in affordable health care coverage, and that implementation is on track,” Tavenner said.
Tavenner even went on to specifically identify IT as a specific area where progress was being made and something that CMS had taken seriously for years.
“Over the last three and a half years, CMS and our Federal partners have been hard at work drafting policy, implementing consumer protections, working with stakeholders, and building IT systems that will enable Americans to shop and apply for insurance coverage starting just two months from now.”
On August 2, 2013, however, HHSOIG released a report which concluded that CMS is about two months behind in testing a key IT security system necessary for the smooth rollout of the health care exchanges, and because of this their last test is currently scheduled for the day before enrollment officially is supposed to start in these healthcare exchanges (Sept. 30th).
The system is referred to as the “hub” and it is supposed to be designed to protect the personal information of tens of millions of people from hackers and identity thieves when they enter in their personal information in order to apply for health insurance through these exchanges.
The first test, which included a security system plan assessment and a security risk assessment, was initially supposed to be completed on June 1. That was first pushed back to July 1 and then pushed back again to July 15. Subsequent tests were also pushed back, some more than two months.
Furthermore, Front Page Magazine couldn’t confirm if the initial test was in fact successfully completed on July 15. HHSOIG would not confirm the completion of this test on that date and referred all comment to CMS, which did not return a phone call and email asking for confirmation.
Even at the current schedule, assuming the July 15 test was successfully completed, the final step, a security authorization decision, wouldn’t come until September 30, the day before open enrollment is supposed to begin. Any further delays would mean that the government wouldn’t be able to guarantee personal information for the beginning of open enrollment or would have to push open enrollment back an indefinite period of time.
This latest revelation comes on the heels of a report last week by Front Page Magazine on a key loan program which is also attacking the rest of Obamacare like a bureaucratic cancer. Both stories illustrate that Obamacare is a complicated nightmare, with thousands of moving parts, and if any of those parts ever breaks down, that breakdown leads to a domino effect in the system at large.
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