CMS Deputy Chief Information Officer Henry Chao said Tuesday that 30 percent to 40 percent of the IT systems needed to support the federal Obamacare exchange remains to be built.
"We still need to build the payments systems to make the payments" to insurers in January, he said in response to a question from Rep. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.).
Chao said that the consumer portion of the website, including account registration, and enrollment functions will not be affected by the ongoing site construction effort, but that "back office" functions, which include accounting systems, are still not complete and or functioning properly.
The full exchange can be found below:
REP. GARDNER: When — the committee's been reviewing materials that indicates that some parts of Healthcare.gov were not completed before the launch, as we've discussed here. What portion or percentage of the website remained to be created when you launched on October 1st?
MR. CHAO: I don't have an exact percentage. I think — some of the previous conversations when people asked about whether things were complete, I look at it in terms of overall marketplace systems —
REP. GARDNER: So you've never talked about what's complete and what's not complete, whether it's — how much to go —
MR. CHAO: I think there was a set of priority functions that needed to be in place. Like, for example, you had to authenticate an individual. That's a key function to have.
REP. GARDNER: Well, how much do we have to build today still? I mean, what do we need to build, like, 50 percent, 40 percent, 30 percent?
MR. CHAO: I think it's — just an approximation, we're probably sitting somewhere between 60 (percent) and 70 percent, because we still have to build the system —
REP. GARDNER: Sixty (percent) or 70 percent that needs to be built still?
MR. CHAO: Because we still have to build the payment systems, to make payments to issuers in January.
REP. GARDNER: So let me get this correct. Sixty (percent) to 70 percent of Healthcare.gov still needs to be built?
MR. CHAO: It's not really Healthcare.gov. It's the federally facilitated marketplace —
REP. GARDNER: That the entire — the entire system that the American people are being required to rely upon is 70 percent —
MR. CHAO: That part is — Healthcare.gov, the online application, verification, determination, plan compare, getting enrolled, generating an enrollment transaction, that's 100 percent there. What I'm talking about —
REP. GARDNER: But the entire system is 60 (percent), 70 percent away from being complete.
MR. CHAO: There is the back office systems, the accounting systems, the payment systems. They still need to —
REP. GARDNER: Thanks — thank you for that. How — of those 60 (percent) to 70 percent of systems that are still being built, how are they going to be tested?
MR. CHAO: You mean the remaining 30 (percent) to 40 percent, how are they going to be tested?
REP. GARDNER: Yes.
MR. CHAO: In the same exact manner we tested everything else.