Alexander: Report Detailing Failures of Obamacare Website Shows Dangers of “Trying to Address Complex Issues through a Sweeping, One-Size-Fits-All Federal Solution”

Says Republicans are ready to take health care reform “step by step in a different direction” – “encouraging competition and choice” and recognizing “most expertise is found in the states and in the private sector”

Posted on February 23, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 23 – Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) made the following statement on today’s inspector general report showing the administration’s mismanagement and lack of expertise in its handling of Healthcare.gov:

“The failure of Obamacare’s online insurance marketplace – which, according to today’s report, cost taxpayers twice what was budgeted and still isn’t operating the way the administration claimed it would – is just one symptom of an all too common affliction in Washington, D.C.: trying to address complex issues through a sweeping, one-size-fits-all federal solution,” said Alexander, chairman of the Senate health committee. “Whether it’s immigration or climate change or health care, the lesson we have learned over and over is that the federal government does not do ‘comprehensive’ well.”

The report found that federal officials received 18 written warnings that implementation of Healthcare.gov was mismanaged and off course in the two years prior to its launch and failed to put in appropriate corrective measures. In its report, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General wrote,“[W]e found that [HHS] and [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] made many missteps throughout development and implementation that led to the poor launch. Most critical was the absence of clear leadership, which caused delays in decision-making, lack of clarity in project tasks, and the inability of CMS to recognize the magnitude of problems as the project deteriorated. Additional HHS and CMS missteps included devoting too much time to developing policy, which left too little time for developing the website; making poor technical decisions; and failing to properly manage its key website development contract. CMS’s organizational structure and culture also hampered progress, including poor coordination between policy and technical work, resistance to communicating and heeding warnings of ‘bad news,’ and reluctance to alter plans in the face of problems. CMS continued on a failing path to developing Healthcare.gov despite signs of trouble, making rushed corrections shortly before the launch that proved insufficient. These structural, cultural, and tactical deficiencies were particularly problematic for Healthcare.gov given the significant challenges of implementing a new program involving multiple stakeholders and a large technology build.”

Alexander continued, “Most expertise is found in the states and in the private sector. Knowing that, Republicans are ready to take this country step by step in a different direction – encouraging competition and choice, harnessing the expertise found only in the private sector and recognizing that states, our laboratories of democracy, are in the best position to design health insurance reforms that meet families’ needs and budgets.” 

Today’s report can be found online HERE.  

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For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.

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