Health

Confirmed: Accenture snags contract to fix HealthCare.gov

Above: A screenshot of the HealthCare.gov website.

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The rollout of HealthCare.gov has been tumultuous, with the site unable to handle a few hundred concurrent users trying to sign up for health insurance for much of its early existence.

Now it falls to Accenture to fix the online health portal.

It’s official: Lead contractor CGI is out, outsourcing specialist Accenture is in. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a U.S. government agency, will not renew CGI’s contract when it expires Feb. 28, instead bringing in Accenture Federal Services to fix CGI’s botched job.

“Accenture will bring deep healthcare industry insight as well as proven experience building large-scale, public-facing websites to continue improving HealthCare.gov,” David Moskovitz, chief executive of Accenture Federal Services, said in a news release Saturday.

Dozens of firms have had a hand in building HealthCare.gov — and a lot of blame has been thrown around for its poor performance — but until now, CGI has been primarily responsible for assembling and fixing the website.

Accenture is getting $45 million to handle the “initial phase of the project,” which includes outlining a transition plan to determine what work the contractor will undertake to fix the health portal. That roadmap will define the value of the full 12-month contract, said Accenture. For comparison’s sake, California’s three-and-a-half-year contract with Accenture is costing the state $359 million, according to the Washington Post.

Accenture is one of the world’s largest consulting firms, and it’s previously built sites for the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Department of Education. It also built California’s new health-insurance exchange, which has worked relatively smoothly since its early October launch. Until now, Accenture hasn’t had significant input on the HealthCare.gov portal.

Early last month, the Obama administration declared that HealthCare.gov works “smoothly” for the vast majority of users, but the site continues to cause problems for some seeking health insurance. It can’t automatically enroll Medicaid-eligible people in state programs, for example, or calculate how many consumers have paid their insurance premiums, which is critical to figuring out how many people are actually covered. The portal is improving, though: More than a million Americans have selected plans on the exchange, according to the Obama administration.

Hat tip: WSJD

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