GAO Report Finds More Work Needed To Improve HealthCare.gov

March 6, 2015 in News

Despite improvements to HealthCare.gov since its flawed launch in 2013, HHS still must fix certain issues to ensure the site’s long-term functionality, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday, Modern Healthcare reports (Dickson, Modern Healthcare, 3/5).

Report Details

For the report, GAO between December 2013 and March 2015 interviewed relevant CMS and federal officials and reviewed program documentation. The report aimed to determine the status of efforts to address deficiencies in HealthCare.gov’s system and examine CMS’ oversight of the project (GAO report, March 2015).  

Report Findings

The report found that following the bumpy rollout of HealthCare.gov, CMS took several actions that resulted in more efficient system processing, such as:

  • Doubling the number of servers for systems supporting HealthCare.gov;
  • Replacing a virtual database with a high-capacity physical database; and
  • Awarding a new contract to Accenture Federal Services (Aitoro, “Fed Biz,” Washington Business Journal, 3/5).

The report also noted that the site’s performance improved during the second open-enrollment period compared with the first. Few serious malfunctions were reporting during the second enrollment period, which closed in February (Modern Healthcare, 3/5).

However, the report found that CMS’ new plans for product-testing parts of HealthCare.gov are missing key components, such as specifying how to assure the testing process’ quality (Ravindranath, “Health IT Update,” NextGov, 3/5).

In addition, the reported noted:

  • CMS has not conducted all required reviews to ensure that projects remain on schedule; and
  • An HHS review board tasked with overseeing the agency’s progress has not met in at least two years (GAO report, March 2015).

Recommendations

Among other things, GAO recommended that HHS:

  • Document and approve system testing policy and procedures;
  • Require key information in system test plans; and
  • Strengthen the chief information officer’s involvement in oversight of HealthCare.gov and its support systems.

HHS officials said the department is working to respond to the suggestions (Modern Healthcare, 3/5).

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