‘I Am Tired of the Cover Ups’: Report Finds Obamacare Rollout Engulfed by Secrecy and Infighting


In this Nov. 5, 2013, file photo, Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The Obama administration sought secrecy and “covert ops” in dealing with the botched rollout of Healthcare.gov last year, prompting one federal official to say, “I am tired of the cover ups,” according to a report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The committee released the report one day before Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner is set to testify about the problem-plagued Obamacare health law and online insurance exchange that was launched in October 2013.

The report includes numerous emails that the committee report says displays agency infighting and secrecy.

An email from a Department of Health and Human Services official complained about CMS incompetence.

“I grow weary of the bull—t passive/aggressiveness of [CMS official] Henry [Chao], or rather his lack of engagement to the point that we can only speculate that it is passive/aggressiveness,” the e-mail from the HHS officials said. “The other way to do this is through a complete covert ops mission to unseat the CMS FFE [federally-facilitated exchange] rules engine.”

CMS official Teresa Fryer seems to acknowledge that that other CMS officials did not tell the truth about state of security testing before the launch when an HHS official sought information.

“[HHS official] Kevin Charest has asked for an update of the FFM [federally-facilitated market place] testing by noon tomorrow and I’m going to give him a truthful update of exactly what is going on. I am tired of the cover ups,” Fryer wrote.

The report also accuses Tavenner of deleting her emails in violation of the federal record-keeping rules.

In an Oct. 5, 2013 email – just a few days after the botched Healthcare.gov rollout, Tavenner forwarded a complaint from White House advisor Jeanne Lambrew about call center workers giving callers incorrect information and wrote, “Please delete this email –but please see if we can work on call script [redacted].”

The Government Accountability Office released a report about security problems with Healthcare.gov, which shows another problem, said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darnell Issa (R-Calif.).

“Even today, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office informs Congress that CMS refuses to provide reports on 13 Healthcare.gov ‘security incidents’ for its audit of efforts taken by CMS to ensure the site’s security,” Issa said in a statement. “What vulnerabilities to sensitive personal information is CMS still so intent on hiding from an independent government auditor? The new report offers Americans insight into how this administration secretly responded to known security vulnerabilities while plotting to keep the truth from the American people.”

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