McNutt thought back to when CMS rolled out software that providers use to achieve Meaningful Use attestation, and how long it took the government to remediate problems in that software. "It does not surprise me," she says, that an IT project of healthcare.gov's scope and scale started out on the wrong foot.
A System Almost Predisposed to Failure
It's easy to focus on the price tag, $643 million or so, and expect it to work better than some Web startup here in Silicon Valley that say started on a shoestring a few weeks ago and yet is serving millions today. While tech's most darling sites have all had their outages, healthcare.gov last week is one for the books, resembling one long running outage.
But remember that the users of those Silicon Valley sites are usually tech-savvy types who have low expectations of a new site's capabilities, and are often attracted by a few glitzy features. In contrast, the nation's health insurance exchanges were defined by Congress—a body not known for designing things of beauty—and implemented by a raft of government contractors who got the job of plodding through an incomprehensible set of rules and regulations while purporting to be the lowest bidder.
It's a system almost predisposed to failure, and I've already received more than one email urging me to point out that the fact that the mere fact that the system is working at all is something of a coding triumph, or, as I put it back in July, something of a miracle.