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Life Health > Health Insurance > Health Insurance

CMS tech returns to lion’s den

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Henry Chao, a technology manager, returned to Capitol Hill today for another Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act hearing.

Chao, the deputy chief information officer at the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, told lawmakers he’s a career civil servant who simply tried to implement the vision of Marilyn Tavenner, the CMS administrator, and other higher-level managers and policy makers.

“I didn’t get to pick what date we started,” Chao said, and he said he wasn’t at the meetings at which the launch date was set.

Chao spoke at a security hearing organized by the House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee.

Earlier, the Washington Post published an article based on a memo, released in the spring, in which McKinsey talked about what they thought was poor, disorganized management of the development effort by CMS.

Democrats on the committee blasted their Republican counterparts for sharing the memo with reporters before sharing it with them.

Chao said the McKinsey consultants had interviewed him for the report at least twice but that he hadn’t heard much about what was in the final report.

One Republican said CMS should have had an easy time implementing PPACA, because PPACA was signed in 2010, and didn’t launch until Oct. 1, 2013.

Chao said software developers cannot use a federal statute as a guide to writing working code.

“The law is a very high level of expression of requirements,” Chao said.

Another lawmaker asked Chao if he wished he’d had more time to test before it launched.

“I think that’s true of every project I’ve ever worked on,” Chao added.

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