WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has tapped the world's largest consulting firm to take over its beleaguered Obamacare website.
Accenture, a consulting and technology services company with 281,000 employees and $28.6 billion in revenue, won the one-year contract to continue fixing HealthCare.gov, the online health insurance marketplace set up by the Affordable Care Act.
The Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services made the announcement Saturday.
"As CMS moves forward in our efforts to help consumers access quality, affordable health coverage, we have selected Accenture to become the lead contractor for the HealthCare.gov portal and to prepare for next year's open enrollment period. We are pleased that more than 1.1 million consumers already have enrolled in a private plan in the federal Marketplace thanks to existing efforts and look forward to working with all of our contract partners to ensure a smooth transition of this work," the agency said in a statement.
As lead contractor, the company will be in charge of not only improving the current site, but also preparing it for open enrollment next fall. The task includes 24/7 customer support, eligibility and enrollment functions, and transmitting the personal data in enrollment forms.
"We are honored to be part of the team of technology and healthcare companies and government professionals helping the federal government meet the healthcare coverage needs of its citizens," said David Moskovitz, the chief executive of Accenture Federal Services. "Accenture will bring deep healthcare industry insight as well as proven experience building large-scale, public-facing websites to continue improving HealthCare.gov."
CMS will pay Accenture $45 million for the initial phase of the contract. The two sides are still defining the extent of Accenture's work, and a final value for the contract will be decided then.
Obamacare's site launched on October 1, 2013, to disastrous reviews, as users experienced major problems accessing the site, creating profiles and selecting insurance plans.
The White House later fired the original contractor, CGI Federal, and it cut ties with the company Friday, choosing not to renew its contract.
CGI's original contract for HealthCare.gov was for two years and valued at nearly $100 million.
During testimony before Congress in October, CGI Senior Vice President Cheryl Campbell denied any wrongdoing by her company, telling legislators that it was not "unusual to discover problems" in a system with so many concurrent users that would need to be addressed after going live.
Fixes since have resulted in improved performance of HealthCare.gov. At the end of 2013, more than 2 million people had signed up for coverage, with about half enrolling through the federal marketplace, officials said.