Did Politics Help Cause HealthCare.gov Failures?

Joseph Marks | Nextgov | October 17, 2013

Two stories dominated U.S. headlines during the first half of October.

There was the government shutdown, which drew to a close late Wednesday and was largely seen as a case of partisan politics hijacking the work of nonpartisan career employees. Then there was the troubled launch of the online health insurance marketplace, HealthCare.gov, which was largely seen as a failure of bureaucracy. 

Politics may have had as much to do with the HealthCare.gov failure as they had to do with the government shutdown, though, according to Lawrence Kocot, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and formerly senior advisor to the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Kocot helped launch an online Drug Plan Finder application for Medicare Part D, the Medicare prescription drug benefit, in 2004 and 2005. When a new government program is the subject of intense political debate, that can make building the technology systems that support the program especially difficult, he said.