Verizon Tapped To Fix Healthcare.gov, According to Telecom Leak

10-22-2013 9-52-31 PM

It’s been a busy week for Healthcare.gov news. Federal officials have abandoned early claims that attributed the sites technical problems to unprecedented traffic and are now fully engaged in the process of correcting the issues at hand. In the media, the topic has been politicized a good deal, but it is not a political story at its core. The healthcare.gov story is about healthcare IT and free market economics.

The decision to place Healthcare.gov at the center of the ACA came from negotiations between legislators, some committed to securing universal insurance, and others committed to introducing free market dynamics to the insurance industry. Establishing a centralized web-based marketplace to act as a registration point for the uninsured was agreed upon as a way to accomplish both. The website would facilitate the enrollment process for millions of Americans, and as a result, insurance companies would lower prices to compete for the new customers.

Next, millions were spent building the website. It connects to HHS, CMS, the VA, the IRS, even the Peace Corps to verify a variety of different eligibility criteria. The site then calculates any federal subsidy entitlements, and then connects to private insurance databases to determine premium rates for the applicant. The idea was to deliver a one-stop shopping experience for comparing plans and processing applications.

As everyone knows at this point, technical issues severely dampened the launch of the new marketplace, and with the enrollment period for signing up closing in March, every day counts. For Healthcare.gov to do its part in the broader ACA economic plan, it needs to net seven million newly insured consumers by March. At the current pace, the site will pull down only 3.5 million by the deadline.

Enter healthcare IT’s unnamed superheroes. Sunday, HHS published a blog posting promising a tech surge that will deliver the “best and brightest” from both public and private sectors to help fix the remaining problems and smooth things out for end users. No details were given on who would be joining the fight, or when they might arrive.

The next day, the president affirmed this promise in a Rose Garden speech given Monday afternoon, during which he said “There’s no excuse for the problems. Nobody’s madder than me about the fact that the website isn’t working as well as it should, which means it’s going to get fixed." He went on to affirm HHS’s commitment to bring in the best and brightest, but still there were no details on who exactly had been lined up to come to the rescue.

Today, however, information is starting to leak about who is being brought in to play hero. The answer, according to USA TODAY is a team of programmers within Verizon’s Enterprise Services Division.  The information is being reported from an anonymous source working within the telecommunications industry, but at this point has not been confirmed by either the HHS or Verizon.

Verizon is a logical choice because they were involved in the project at the outset and helped to design the original infrastructure. Verizon’s Enterprise Services Division has already done business with both HHS and CMS and is familiar with the governments IT security and project management processes. They are on a short list of contractors with the knowledge and manpower to step up short notice and help turn things around. The company is also no stranger to building web-based health IT applications. In 2011, they partnered with CareCloud to design and implement the cloud-based infrastructure for CareCloud’s Ambulatory EHR.

Aneesh Chopra, the Obama administration’s former chief technology officer says "There is an existing ‘best and brightest’ available to call in, and Verizon is one of those already under contract."

White House officials have also announced that former Advisory Board Company CEO Jeff Zients will lead the the “tech surge” aimed at fixing healthcare.gov.


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