Politically Connected Firms Got Lion’s Share of Health Exchange Contracts

By Barbara Hollingsworth | October 16, 2013 | 5:02pm EDT



(CNSNews.com) -- “Legacy contractors with deep political pockets” who hired “some of the biggest lobbying powerhouses in Washington” and donated $32 million to federal candidates in 2011 and 2012 got the lion’s share of the estimated $634 million the Obama administration spent to build the glitch-ridden Healthcare.gov, according to an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group.

“All but one of the 47 contractors who won contracts to carry out work on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) worked for the government prior to its passage,”  Sunlight blogger Bill Allison reported.

The practice of hiring firms with political muscle and heavyweight lobbying arms stands in stark contrast to the 2007 pledge President Obama made in Iowa during his first presidential campaign to “take on lobbyists.”

“They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president,” Obama declared at the time.

But they are running Obamacare, the president’s signature domestic policy initiative.

“Some 17 ACA contract winners reported spending more than $128 million on lobbying in 2011 and 2012, while 29 had employees or political action committees or both that contributed $32 million to federal candidates and parties in the same period. Of that amount, President Barack Obama collected $3.9 million,” Allison reported.

Senior executives from CGI Federal Inc., a subsidiary of the Montreal-based Conseillers en Gestion et Informatique (CGI Group) also had top-level access to the White House, the Washington Examiner reported.

The debut of the federal health insurance exchange was such a disaster that the House Energy and Commerce Committee is planning to launch an investigation to determine what caused the meltdown after company officials assured Congress during a Sept. 10 subcommittee hearing that the website would be ready for its October 1 rollout.

“CGI explained that the marketplace inplementation had achieved ‘all’ of its key milestones and that CGI was confident individuals would be able to enroll on October 1,” according to the committee.

“Despite the widespread belief that the administration was not ready for the health law’s October 1 launch, top officials and lead IT contractors looked us in the eye and assured us all systems were a go,” committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., said in a press statement. “The American people deserve to know what caused this mess.”

However, this was not the first time CGI failed to live up to its promises.

The company, which was reportedly the only one considered to build the main Healthcare.gov portal, missed three years of deadlines and had its contract to set up a much smaller online diabetes registry in Ontario terminated for poor performance in 2012.

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