Obamacare technology testing slated for September: official

WASHINGTON Wed Jul 31, 2013 6:16pm EDT

Marilyn Tavenner testifies before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on her nomination to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Capitol Hill in Washington April 9, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Marilyn Tavenner testifies before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on her nomination to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Capitol Hill in Washington April 9, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration is preparing to subject the information technology backbone of the new state and federal healthcare exchanges to final "dress rehearsal" testing that could continue until just before the online marketplaces are slated to begin enrollment on October 1.

The administration "has already completed the majority of the development of the services required to support open enrollment beginning on October 1," Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, said in written testimony that appeared on the website of a congressional oversight committee on Wednesday.

"CMS has been conducting systems tests since October 2012 and will complete end-to-end testing before open enrollment begins," she said.

Tavenner, whose agency is spearheading implementation of the exchanges within the Department of Health and Human Services, told a different congressional panel on July 17 that a new data hub for the exchanges would complete testing with federal agencies, states and territories by the end of August.

Administration officials emphasized that the data hub deadline has not changed and said Tavenner's latest remarks involve robust testing for the full range of exchange systems, including the data hub and the information technology systems of states, health insurers and federal agencies. The testing will begin in August and continue in September.

"We are on schedule. We're ready and done with most of our testing," said one administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But testing continues even after it's done. So we will be testing things up until they're ready to run."

The exchanges, a centerpiece of President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, are expected to extend subsidized private insurance to an estimated 7 million Americans in 2014 who currently lack adequate coverage. The coverage would begin January 1, when the law comes fully into force.

The task of building and successfully testing a complex IT system for the exchanges has long been seen as a challenge that could delay the start of open enrollment. The system encompasses not just the data hub that will connect the exchanges to federal agencies and insurers, but also the Internal Revenue Service system that will help establish whether applicants are eligible for federal subsidies to help them pay insurance premiums.

Tavenner submitted her written remarks ahead of a hearing on Thursday before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee. She also testified on July 17 before a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Comments (2)
10Pups wrote:
Oh Boy another target for crackers to hack. Watch this get all messed up before Christmas.

Jul 31, 2013 7:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
primou812 wrote:
This Obamacare is NOT what the President wanted. Congress (mostly Republicans) made sure that the insurance companies stayed in the mix. They ARE and have been the problem all along. They were supposed to be watching the store..they just kept raising our rates..and here we are now – 50 years later and up against that wall they talk about.

I have watched numerous documentaries and videos on healthcare around the world. For starters, just watch this one. It is not one sided. I gives you pros and cons…At least you can discuss the subject of healthcare more intelligently…Is that not what you want? People will not watch it…They refuse to even expose themselves to anything but what they have filtered out for themselves to support their opinions – not a hint of an argument to expand their knowledge of the subject. It takes some courage to change your mind on something after seeing both sides. This shows you are open minded. The more verbal you are about your stance such as demeaning people, the harder it is to admit you may have been misinformed. It is all about ego..can be a very destructive trait in a person. Most people are too lazy to watch an hour video…takes too much effort…But it is very easy to take pot shots at others who do their diligence. Just analyze this psychologically …What does that say about a person? Need I say more?

Jul 31, 2013 8:53pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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