I wrote here on Friday about Plan Finder, the Medicare Part D Web tool that received un-diluted praise from the Government Accountability Office, despite a troubled launch eight years ago, for using data checks and quality measures to ensure the accuracy of its drug pricing information.
One lesson for contemporary government technology watchers concerned about the rocky rollout of HealthCare.gov, I said, was that government in general, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in particular, can do interactive technology right given enough time to work out the kinks.
My colleague Aliya Sternstein pointed out soon after that post went up that the lead contractor on Plan Finder was none other than…wait for it…CGI Federal, the lead HealthCare.gov contractor that CMS plans to cut ties with after numerous failures, according to a Washington Post report.
There are plenty of reasons why HealthCare.gov’s story may be different from Plan Finder’s. The scope of the project and of its failures are both much larger in HealthCare.gov’s case. The fact that HealthCare.gov takes in citizens’ personal information alone makes computer errors significantly more dangerous.
There’s also been much more public and media scrutiny of HealthCare.gov’s troubles, and it was launched in a much more politically partisan climate, which ensures that scrutiny will be even greater.
Plan Finder’s success, however, does suggest that HealthCare.gov’s failure isn’t preordained. Only time will tell whether HealthCare.gov can succeed in the long run, as Plan Finder has, and win its own positive but little noticed GAO review in 2021.