State that pioneered universal health care now has system that's all screwed up

The Globe reports on angry legislators confronting the governor's new point person on the failed new Health Connector site, who admitted she had no clue when it will be fixed.



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    Obamacare just different enough from Romneycare

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    That it required new systems to set up (for example, the new system supposedly checks your financial info with the IRS; the old state system did not - you had to file a paper copy of your tax return).

    And, ta da, the state hired the same company that couldn't build the federal Web system to fuck up the state system.

    The Crux of the Problem

    And, ta da, the state hired the same company that couldn't build the federal Web system to fuck up the state system.

    This is what people should be raising hell about. How and why was this company hired? There are a slew of tech startups in the MA who could have done a much better job at a far lower cost but for stupid reasons they weren't able to bid on the job or found the requirements just for bidding to be so ridiculous they didn't even try.

    Procurement laws needs to be changed so that it's easy for a multitude of companies to bid on jobs like these without needing to hire an entire "government relations" department just to deal with all the meaningless reporting and compliance requirements. And well intentioned statues which give preferential treatment to minorities, selected towns, etc need to be removed as well -- they don't produce good results for anyone. And they need to change the laws so that when companies screw up big time they don't get paid and the directors of these companies are held legally responsible.

    No surprise here

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    I do IT infrastructure--storage, servers, networking. All the back end plumbing that you never see, or shouldn't ever see.

    And every week for the last year, I get pinged by some clueless Indian recruiter, who wants to pay me slave wages as a W2 contractor (six months) to work for the state of MA, Doing something that I have no experience in--Java coding. Hmm.....

    So I'm betting this CGI outfit subbed the work out to a bunch of bottom feeding body shops that specialize in modern indentured servitude, otherwise known as the H1B program. And the guys coding this disaster are all on short term contracts and being treated like dog shit, and looking/waiting to jump at the next main chance.

    Love to see someone who actually understands IT and current employment issues dig into this one. I bet it stinks long, deep, and hard.

    Software outsourcing

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    I can't speak to CGI but I can speak about many big companies here in Boston. I was a database developer for almost 20 years. I was darned good at it and I made a pretty good living from it. Maybe too much of a good living. Why would a company pay me $10/hr when they can pay a programmer in India $1/hr to do the same thing?

    As it turns out, it's not the same thing. Outsourcing is turning out to be penny wise and pound foolish. On one project, we had to rewrite half of the code that our Indian colleagues developed. Sometimes, we'd be on conference calls walking them through code. Is it any wonder we couldn't deliver on time?

    There is an insane amount of turnover and the programmers have zero interest in a project or company. They just up and leave in the middle if they get the chance to make $1.25 somewhere else.

    I gave up programming and am now a Business Analyst. I am the person who writes the requirements that the programmers use to develop code. It's my experience that the business users love talking to me and telling me about the system they want. We talk, we make flowcharts, sample files, sample screens. We negotiate what can and can't be built. Then I write a document and hand it over to the technology people.

    tl;dr Outsourcing sucks.

    Probably not even H1Bs

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    H1Bs are the old way of doing things. Now that so many companies have embraced telecommuting, it's a lot easier for consultants to just hire a few white guys to be the interface of the company, shake hands, grease palms, attend meetings, and basically be the public image of the company.

    And then farm all the work out to India. No need for those pesky visas.

    My company was looking at getting contractors several months ago for a reporting project which would connect to a niche ERP system we're buying. Having not decided yet between platforms, my bosses hired one company based out of BC on the basis of the fact that one person in their company had previously done reporting integrated with this niche ERP platform. When it came time to put the rubber to the road however, that guy was never in the meetings and never even logged into his account. Meanwhile, six bumbling overseas guys are busy throwing crap against the wall to see what sticks, and then blaming me because the performance on their virtual machine workstations is "insufficient" (whereas the *real* performance problem comes from using RDP from halfway around the world). And of course they're ignoring my design constraints on their project design and generally wasting a lot of time and billing for work that hasn't been done.

    Luckily, I did not have to address these concerns, as a political decision was made to not use that particular reporting platform, which meant that these "consultants" were indirectly cut out of the loop. Phew.

    Insufficient Performance.....

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    One of my personal favorites...

    "What, my code sucks and is consuming every drop of resources available to it on any machine we put it on? Well, please to be doing the needful and reconfiguring swap RAM in a fashion so as to be optimal. Based on how my code is performing, all the systems it is running on are misconfigured."

    And by the way, no, we haven't gotten past the H1B scam, even in 2014. Current cap is 65,000 year, and that's usually filled in less than 24 hours. And there was talk of tripling that in the current Immigration debates in Congress.

    Remember kids

    If Programmer A never learned how to call free(), it's clearly because Sysadmin B is a bad person who refuses to do his job.

    A Republican built the state

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    A Republican built the state system which worked. So when someone manages to fail to copy it to the tune of several billion dollars with no success of course they'd be concerned.

    Building something new from scratch is difficult. These local ACA implementation team had a working prototype with an experienced administrative bureaucracy and software/IT company which built the original within the state's borders and still couldn't get it right for the 2.0? It's like asking someone to jog after they've already proven they can walk only to watch them fail at crawling.

    While I get the idea to be

    While I get the idea to be skeptical of Republicans being truly concern when related to a program they strongly disapprove, it's kinda hard to be critical in this context when the Massachusetts version was originally done under a Republican that works. Meanwhile the broken version is down under both a Democrat governor and presidential administration.

    Can we stop bashing the few

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    Can we stop bashing the few politicians that actually care about fixing this and just get it fixed? Let me guess, you're a Democrat who already had health insurance through your employer. Good for you, I'm shocked this is working out well for you.

    Uh huh.

    I guess Mitt's death would really go a long way towards making Obamacare work. Maybe paying attention to the IT commenters might help a bit. Oh, Breaking Bad ended months ago.
    Or you could just move to Eastie and rent yourself out as a space saver.

    Will LaTulippe, where in your

    Will LaTulippe, where in your thought process this make any sense? Unless you can explain to me how he is connected to the current failure of the website, you are basically blaming Romney and wishing for his death just because he's a Republican and not for any deeds related to this.

    Now, now

    If your only seemingly apparent activity in life is hanging around bars engaged in "competitions" of who has the largest trove of useless information and then stumbling home in a besotted state where you drunkenly post nonsense like that last post, you'd be hard pressed to make sense also.

    Uh, he made the law

    The state wouldn't have a website that everybody is trying to access en masse if he hadn't made this lazy, ridiculous law.

    A Republican raised my taxes. Chew on that. I don't like Democrats either.

    It actually worked before

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    It actually worked before October, though. I don't like Mitt Romney but his health care plan was pretty decent. I was against it at first.

    Yeah, Mitt was a real gift to the Commonwealth

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    One of the places that I've worked in IT in the last 10 years was a local company that Bain took over in the kind of pump-and-dump operation he specialized in.

    Having been there and seen that, I'd say "No Thanks" to Working on Mitt's Farm Anymore, in any capacity.

    This is the best argument for federalism...

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    that conservatives (or any Federalist) could make. It fits beautifully into the "what's right for Massachusetts might not be right for the entire U.S. and what's right for the rest of the U.S. might not be right for Massachusetts" narrative.


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    To me reading that Commonwealth Representatives are atwitter over a new program not working is disengenuous considering their failure at properly funding public transportation in the Commonwealth.

    If the Representatives are so concerned for their constituents then lend their staff to manually process the paperwork to get people set up with insurance. That assumes that providing insurance is not locked in some Catch 22, or even contemporary Kafkaesque netherworld where the end result of providing health insurance can only be done by way of computers.

    Using their staff may be less efficient then using an electronic system. But it provides the muscle power of protecting constituents.

    So dear Representatives: Get out of your comfy leather chairs where you can hide in your labyrinthine office building and actually get your hands dirty. Stop flapping your mouths and hands like Chicken Little and start moving your legs like people who work for a living.

    My experience with the Connector

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    Every time I call, I get a representative who has trouble accessing my records. Because they are not using some special back-end system - they are using the same exact Web site the public would use. At least, that's what one rep told me back in December, as opposed to the rep yesterday who went "oh no!" when she tried to call up my records - the rep I spoke to an hour after my first attempt to find out my status (more than a month after I applied) because the rep on that call told me to call back in an hour since the system was "down for maintenance" - at 4:30 p.m.

    I'm assuming/hoping we still have actual health insurance, even though we keep getting Commonwealth Care bills for $0.00, which we keep replying to by paying our old premiums, which are, in fact, taken out of our checking account. But who knows?

    The old state-only system? It just worked.

    I went downtown to the headquarters in person.

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    I went downtown to the headquarters in person, to apply and then to enroll in a healthcare plan, because it was easier and less stressful than being on the phone or doing it online. I'm glad I did that, because it saved me a lot of hassles and was less risky.

    State reps have actually been

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    State reps have actually been good about using their resources to help people sign up, they're just all terrified to criticize a Democratic initiate in Massachusetts.

    “I hear the urgency, I

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    “I hear the urgency, I experience it too. We all do,” Iselin said.

    Um, actually, no, you don't. You have health insurance and a job that pays really well. I've been waiting since October and you are doing nothing. Why did Patrick hire more people without firing the ones who screwed it up?

    Buying plans directly

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    We currently get our health plan through the connector, but our plan expires on March 31st. I'm pissed off that the new plans are $300 - $500 more expensive for a plan with the same deductible as our current plan. So I'll be voting Republican, but in the meantime, I will have to bite the bullet and buy a new plan for our family.
    After spending a long time on the connector comparing plans, I went to one of the provider sites, and they are offering plans directly. The direct plans look better, and no potential connection problems. Is there any advantage to going through the connector anymore if you don't get a subsidy?

    Just buy from the provider directly

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    I used to have my own insurance when I was self-employed. I called up Blue Cross and bought a plan directly from them. No big. If you're not looking for a subsidy and you've found a plan that you like, I say buy it from the provider. Just one girl's opinion.