White House Accused Of Letting Politics Influence HealthCare.gov Design

Joseph Marks | Nextgov | October 22, 2013

Congressional overseers made their first move to apportion blame on Monday for the troubled launch of HealthCare.gov, the government’s online health insurance marketplace, while the White House turned to social media to drum up public support for the ailing and embattled website.

The insurance marketplaces are a major component of President Obama’s landmark health care reform law and software glitches that frustrated insurance-seekers during HealthCare.gov’s first three weeks online have become yet another battlefield over Obamacare’s basic viability.

In a letter to the White House’s top technology officials, Republican leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee charged that administration officials directed contractors to fundamentally change the HealthCare.gov interface just one month before launch to conceal insurance plan price comparisons from people who had not already registered with the site.

This change was aimed at ensuring enrollees could factor in any tax subsidies when evaluating plan prices, according to media reports, but also served to shield Americans who weren’t seeking insurance through the exchanges from “sticker shock,” according to the letter from Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and other members to federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel and Chief Technology Officer Todd Park.