October 21, 2013 /

HHS Vows A "Tech Surge" To Fix Healthcare.gov

With the countless problems still plaguing healthcare.gov and a deadline approaching, the government is stepping up actions to try and remedy the problems.

HHS Vows A "Tech Surge" To Fix Healthcare.gov

Yesterday the Department of Health and Human Services published a post talking about the problems withe the healthcare.gov website. One piece of information I find most useful is this:

Aside from the difficulties since launching the site, there are parts of the overall system that have proved up to the task.  The “Data Hub,” component, which provides HealthCare.gov with information that aids in determining eligibility for qualified health plans, is working.  Individuals have been able to verify their eligibility for credits, enabling them to shop for and enroll in low or even no-cost health plans.

Why I find that interesting is because that is the part I keep getting held up on. I get through the application process then I am told that they can not verify me. I am then taken back to my profile, where it says I am verified. I have also talked to a few other people experiencing the same problem.

But HHS is vowing a “tech surge” to come in and try to fix the problems. The government wanted to fix these problems by November 1, but the specialists are saying that it will take longer and might not even be done until after the December 15 deadline. This is from an article published in the New York Times yesterday:

In interviews, experts said the technological problems of the site went far beyond the roadblocks to creating accounts that continue to prevent legions of users from even registering. Indeed, several said, the login problems, though vexing to consumers, may be the easiest to solve. One specialist said that as many as five million lines of software code may need to be rewritten before the Web site runs properly.

Five million lines of code is an enormous amount, especially if the problems are confined to the website. Being someone who knows this stuff very well, having done tons of work on large scale websites from coding to project management, I can safely say that the people responsible for this part of the system need to be held accountable and the government should suspend them from getting anymore contracts. As a developer I have had severe pain looking at some of the publicly accessible code that runs healthcare.gov, namely the Javascript. The code read like something written by a person who completed only 6 hours in a Sams Teach Yourself JavaScript in 24 Hours. It is that horrible.

This news is of course going to add fuel to the fire for the GOP. They are already jumping on this and using it as a primary reason for why the whole program should be scraped. Instead of that, I think President Obama should give the tech gurus this week to come up with a battle plan and if they can’t get it done by December 15, then he announce an extension to that deadline. No doubt a lot of the problems stemmed from a hard deadline of October 1 to get it all up and running, so let’s not make the same mistake twice. It doesn’t take that long to write code, but it takes a lot of time to give it a good testing process and that is something we can’t forego, especially since a catastrophic re-release could easily spell the end to the whole program.

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