The first deadline for fixing the problems was mid-2014 – some eight months after the website’s Oct. 1 launch – and the second was early 2015, stated the Sept. 3 memo.
But that shocking information came as news to the project manager of Healthcare.gov, according to his closed-door testimony Monday to the House Oversight Committee in advance of this week’s hearing.
Henry Chao, who had recommended it was safe to launch the website Oct. 1, said he hadn’t seen the memo before, reported CBS News, which obtained the first look at a partial transcript of his testimony.
A Republican staff lawyer asked Chao, the project manager at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, if he found it surprising he was unaware of the memo.
“Yeah … I mean, wouldn’t you be surprised if you were me?” he replied.
Chao later said that being kept in the dark about the memo, written by a senior CMS official, was “disturbing.”
“I mean, I don’t deny that this is … a fairly nonstandard way” to proceed, he said, according to CBS News.
The memo, which found two high-risk issues that were redacted for security reasons, said “the threat and risk potential (to the system) is limitless.”
Chao insisted he was told prior to the launch that there were no security gaps could lead to identity theft, unauthorized access and misrouted data.
Asked for comment, Health and Human Services told CBS News the privacy and security of consumers’ personal information are a top priority.
The government agency insisted that consumers can trust that their information is protected by stringent security standards.
CBS News reports, however, that the author of the memo, Tony Trenkle, the lead tech officer for Healthcare.gov, retired from CMS last week under vague circumstances.
Trenkle never signed off on security for the site, CBS said. That responsibility was taken by his supervisor, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.
The explanation was that a project of that magnitude should bear the signature of the head of CMS.
But HotAir.com blogger Allahpundit questions the explanation, speculating that Trenkle might have refused to sign because the site’s security was so bad.
He asks why the information in Trenkle’s memo never made it to Chao, presuming the project manager is telling the truth.
And wouldn’t Tavenner, Allahpundit asks, have seen the memo before she authorized the launch?
If so, why didn’t she warn President Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the site was ready for its scheduled Oct. 1 launch?
Finally, if Trenkle was not the one who suppressed the bad news, Allahpundit asks, then do did?
Allahpundit noted Chao had warned in March that he was “nervous” about the state of Healthcare.gov’s development and hoped that using the site wouldn’t be “a third-world experience.”
Warnings on day of launch
Meanwhile, meeting notes from the morning of Healthcare.gov’s launch date show that HHS employees and the contractors were discussing flaws that included user security, the Washington Post reported last week.
The problems included the system that verifies insurance-seekers’ identity, “glitches with eligibility questions,” and a problem with letting people know whether they qualify for Medicaid, the Post said.
Last week, in testimony last week to a Senate panel, Tavenner said fixes had been made, and she urged Americans to go to the website.
But as WND reported, an analysis by Avalere Health has found that 12 state-based Obamacare exchanges have enrolled only about 3 percent of their expected 2014 exchange participants.
Even Obamacare supporter Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said trust in the program is dwindling, the Post reported.
“I believe that there’s been a crisis of confidence created in the dysfunctional nature of the website, the canceling of policies, and sticker shock from some people,” she said. “What I worry about is that there’s such a crisis of confidence, people won’t enroll.”
See the CBS News report: