WASHINGTON (CBS DC/AP) — The chief project manager for HealthCare.gov testified before congressional investigators behind closed doors that he was not told about security failures to the Obamacare website prior to the Oct. 1 launch.
CBS News reports that Henry Chao was not aware of a memo written by a senior official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that “the threat and risk potential (to the system) is limitless.”
“What I recall is what the team told me, is that there were no high findings,” Chao told investigators in a nine-hour closed-door testimony to the House Oversight Committee, CBS News learned. Chao will be testifying before the committee this week.
Chao — who recommended that the federal health care exchange website was safe to launch on Oct. 1 — told a Republican staff lawyer that he was “surprised” he never saw the memo.
“It is disturbing. I mean, I don’t deny that this is … a fairly nonstandard way” to proceed,” Chao stated, according to CBS News.
The health care rollout has given the White House a black eye.
There have been numerous technical glitches with the HealthCare.gov website where Americans have been unable to enroll and, on top of that, President Barack Obama apologized last week after millions of Americans learned they were losing their current health plans under Obamacare despite him repeatedly saying no one would lose their insurance under the law.
Nationwide, Democrats are nervous about the implications of defending an already unpopular law in the wake of the botched rollout, particularly in swing-voting districts and states. Last week, 16 Senate Democrats talked with Obama about fears the problems could hamper their re-election prospects, a day after two gubernatorial elections highlighted the party’s struggles.
Mirroring national polls, half of New Jersey voters and 53 percent of Virginia voters said they oppose the law. The Democratic nominees in those races won 11 percent and 14 percent of those voters, respectively. Republicans attributed Virginia nominee Ken Cuccinelli’s late surge in his failed bid to his vociferous opposition to the health care law.
Hoping for political gain heading into 2014, the GOP’s top campaign committees are tying Democrats to the law’s messy launch in a series of ads targeting women, who tend to vote Democratic and often make their families’ health decisions.
The White House says canceled policies can be replaced with better coverage, sometimes at lower prices. What the administration doesn’t emphasize is that better coverage often costs more, and those looking for new policies may not qualify for the tax subsidies available under the new law.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)