Rep. Darrell Issa (photo: republicanconference / flickr)

According to the House Oversight Committee the “White House” may have played an important role in exacerbating the problems with the Healthcare.gov rollout. From the committee:

The letter, signed by Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Subcommittee Chairmen John Mica, R-Fla., James Lankford, R-Okla., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, cites January 9, 2013 and October 16, 2013 briefings with CGI Federal Inc., one of the major contractors tasked with building the federal health insurance exchange website.

“CGI officials told Committee staff that CMS officials and employees constantly mentioned the ‘White House’ when discussing matters with CGI.  For example, CMS officials would routinely state: ‘this is what the White House wants,’” the letter continues. “Moreover, CGI officials told Committee staff that the ability to shop for health insurance without registering for an account – a central design feature of the health insurance exchange – was removed ‘in late August or early September.’”

“Although, CGI officials were not able to identify who within the Administration made the decision to disable the anonymous shopping feature, evidence is mounting that political considerations motivated the decision,” the letter finds.

This decision alone probably wouldn’t have caused all the problems we have seen with Healthcare.gov, but if true it could have easily made some problems much worse. Forcing everyone to create accounts before shopping would significantly increased the load on the system. In addition, asking for a big change in the basic structure of the system only weeks away from launch is likely to cause many issues during the rush to finish a product.

This should make for some interesting oversight hearings.