Administration taps Accenture to take over HealthCare.gov

This Dec. 20, 2013, file image shows part of the HealthCare.gov website in Washington. AP

The Obama administration is granting the consulting firm Accenture a contract worth between $90 million and $100 million for maintenance of the federal Obamacare website HealthCare.gov, two sources familiar with the contract told CBS News.

Accenture will replace the original lead contractor responsible for the site, CGI, whose contract is expiring. The contract leaves the consulting firm responsible for the continued construction and maintenance of the site, with a special emphasis on “back-end” portions of the site that handle the transfer of data from users to insurers.

Accenture will also work with QSSI, the contractor that was appointed in late October to lead efforts to fix HealthCare.gov after its disastrous launch.

The details of the contracted are still being finalized, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is expected to announce the deal soon.

Accenture already maintains California’s state-run Obamacare website, and it assisted in the development of Kentucky's state site. California and Kentucky also used CGI technology and expertise to build their sites.

HealthCare.gov serves as the Obamacare portal for 36 states, but when it launched in October, its technical problems dramatically hindered enrollment. Since then, the problems have largely been fixed, and more than 2.1 million people have signed up for private plans via HealthCare.gov and other Obamacare sites.

The administration has consequently started turning its focus from fixing the site to encouraging more enrollment. The outreach efforts have specifically targeted young adults, since getting sufficient enrollment among younger, healthier people will be key to sustaining the new insurance marketplaces.

 Interested in hearing directly from the people involved in these outreach efforts, President Obama on Friday went to lunch at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. with five young people who are spearheading Obamacare outreach in in the city.

The people dining with the president included Anne Johnson, executive director of Generation Progress, the youth division of the Center for American Progress (CAP); David Dimock, an entrepreneur who attended a White House Youth Summit on Obamacare; Jasmine Hicks of the outreach group Young Invincibles; radio personality Tommy McFly; and Andres Cruz of DC Health Link.

While the president was discussing ways to boost enrollment on HealthCare.gov, the Republican-led House was voting on legislation to boost security on the new Obamacare marketplaces. By a vote of 291 to 122, the House passed the Health Exchange Security and Transparency Act. As many as 67 Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the bill, even though the White House opposes it.

White House spokesman Jay Carney on Friday explained that the bill would impose a burdensome reporting requirement on the insurance marketplaces that is actually less effective than standard industry requirements and the requirements already in place.

“The American people who fill out their marketplace applications can be sure that information’s protected using the highest industry standards that are available,” he said.

The technical problems have led to problems with consumers communicating with insurers, but Carney said that most enrollees have by now had their information sent to insurers. Out of the more than one million people who enrolled via HealthCare.gov, there are 13,000 cases with enrollment issues or other problems, he said. He noted that this was a “relatively low percentage” but that every one of them is getting “direct attention.”

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