Obamacare 'Tech Surge' Draws From Google, Oracle

National Journal

Technology experts from Google and Oracle are part of the "tech surge" the Obama administration has enlisted to help fix the Obamacare enrollment site.

Officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Thursday that it has brought in "dozens" of outside experts to help repair HealthCare.gov. It's the closest the administration has come to disclosing specifics about the "tech surge," which President Obama announced last week.

CMS said the team includes Michael Dickerson, an engineer from Google, and Greg Gershman, a "developer and entrepreneur with experience running agile development teams and creating better user experiences when interacting with government."

Both men are technically working for contractors as they help rebuild the site. Technical problems have plagued HealthCare.gov since its launch, locking people out of the site and sending unreliable information to insurance companies.

CMS says it still expects to have the site fully functional by the end of November.

"it is no secret that we are on an aggressive timeline," CMS communications director Julie Bataille told reporters on Thursday.

HealthCare.gov's latest problems arose from outages at the company whose servers support the site. Those outages kept the site offline while Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was testifying about the site on Wednesday. Overall, including the initial disruptions over the past weekend, the site was offline for more than 36 hours, Bataille said.

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CMS is intentionally taking the site offline at times of low usage -- between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. "“ to implement the changes that will help it function, Bataille said.

Most health policy experts say that if the site is indeed ready by the end of November "“ and CMS expects it to improve gradually until then "“ the initial rollout probably won't have an especially damaging effect on overall enrollment.

Bataille said the insurance marketplace for individuals and families is CMS' top priority, but that the agency also expects to have the separate marketplace for small businesses up and running by late November.