Administrative Burden

Administrative Burden

Policymaking by Other Means

Pamela Herd, Donald P. Moynihan

In the days preceding the launch, HHS officials scrambled to find ways to meet unanticipated capacity demands for the federal exchange; they had assumed state exchanges would be managing far more of the demand. HHS also prioritized pushing the website out on schedule, despite evident problems, concerned that congressional critics would use any delay as a basis for pursuing a repeal of the law. Compounding these issues, the day the website launched was the first of a sixteen-day federal government shutdown, which was partly motivated by House-Senate disagreements about delaying the ACA. Only a fraction of pre-shutdown staff was available to identify and address problems. Relatively few pretests and lack of a soft website rollout increased the demands on staff to identify and resolve problems during the rollout.

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