Topics: Obamacare

HHS knew in August that Obamacare's small-business exchange would miss deadline

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Beltway Confidential,Health,Joel Gehrke,Obamacare,Health and Human Services,Health Care Exchanges

On the day before Thanksgiving, the Obama administration announced that a key component of Obamacare meant to enable small businesses to purchase insurance through an online exchange would have to be delayed a year due to mounting technological difficulties.

But according to newly released emails obtained by investigators on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, it was clear way back in August that the small-business function of the federal health website, known as the SHOP exchange, was running into problems.

One of the contractors building the exchanges gave the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services a "rollout schedule" for the SHOP exchange in an August 13 email.

"October 1 – Initial webinars conducted/October 15 – Online training materials available/November 1 – Employer portal goes live/November 15 – Employee portal goes live,” wrote CGI Vice President Mark Calem.

The SHOP exchange was supposed to launch on Oct. 1. On Sept. 26, six weeks after the email and just days before the planned launch, HHS announced that it wouldn't be ready until November.

After it failed to meet even the November deadline, the Obama team waited until the day before Thanksgiving to admit they would have to delay the launch for a year.

"[T]he president’s top lieutenants repeatedly looked us in the eye, insisting that they were ‘on track’ when they knew looming deadlines would be impossible to meet," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., in a statement on the emails. "These are not the characteristics of the ‘most transparent administration in history.' "

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