Monkey Court

A Gorilla, not a Monkey, But Close Enough

A Gorilla, not a Monkey, But Close Enough

Last night’s World Series premiere was a disaster, at least for Saint Louis, so pardon me for not going on about it again tonight. I think that I’ll pivot turn and deal with a different disaster tonight. How about the Obamacare website, instead?

There were House oversight hearings today and the various contractors responsible for creating the website were call on to testify. I find it somewhat amusing now that the Repugs have exhausted all means legal and extra-legal to kill Obamacare, they have the chutzpah to complain when it doesn’t function perfectly. I offer up the following exchange between two opposing congressmen as preamble to tonight’s main event.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ): I started out in my opening statement saying there was no legitimacy to this hearing and the last line of the questioning certainly confirms that.
HIPAA only applies when there’s health information being provided. That’s not in play here today. No health information is required in the application process. And why is that? Because pre-existing conditions don’t matter! So once again, here we have my Republican colleagues trying to scare everybody —
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), interrupting: If the gentleman will yield?
Pallone: No, I will not yield to this monkey court or whatever —
Barton: This is not a monkey court!

As I said, called into the docks for today’s monkey court were the various contractors responsible for making the Obamacare website work. CGI Federal is prime and is also a Canadian firm, but I would like to direct your attention to one of the prime subs instead, Equifax. Then known as Talx, they were my employer at the turn of the century, when I went walkabout. While with Talx, I helped to put up about half-a-dozen websites similar in function, if not in scope as the Obamacare website. At that time we were the industry leader and specialized in providing benefit enrollment services to Fortune 500 corporations. I can say without apology that every single one of my projects was a slow motion train wreck. I’m unapologetic, because my experience seemed the norm there. So it came as no surprise to me that the Obamacare website suffered a similar fate. It was the nature of the business beast.

You have customers, in this case the government, who are inexperienced with large data processing projects. You have a subject that is as dull as can be, yet all the more arcane and complicated, because our American health insurance policies are more complex than rocket science. Trust me, I know. So you have a field that sports the combination of boring and hard and also not particularly the best paying. Is it a surprise then that this combo doesn’t attract the best and the brightest? Then there are the end users of this kind of websites. In this case, the American people. The average American spends about as much time shopping for health care as they do a loaf of bread. I fit this model myself just this week. So let the buyer be aware, you are always going to be half the problem. Don’t worry though, they’ll eventually fix the Obamacare website. We always did for our customers and they will do it again for Obamacare.  

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