A full 30 percent of the complex and critical HealthCare.gov site is not yet built according to project manager Henry Chao.
"That 30 percent represents the payment aspect and the accounting aspect of making payments in the marketplace," Chao explained to a House committee on Tuesday.
At stake are the billions insurance companies will be paid in federal subsidies for many who buy policies through the site.
The site has to account for who gets what and move the money by January 1st.
The job must also be completed before any security checks can be run.
What should have been a minor issue affecting fewer than a quarter of the people without health insurance — less than half a percent of the population — is threatening to derail the entire health reform effort, advocates fear.
Two left-leaning groups, Moveon.org and Democracy for America, sent letters to supporters over the weekend with grim subject lines like “Obamacare in serious trouble”. They're trying to raise money, of course, but the letters reflect a deeper fear.
“It's clear to everyone that rollout has been badly botched — and now Republicans smell blood in the water. They think this is their chance to undo the whole thing,” MoveOn.Org said in an email sent to subscribers. “There's no sugar-coating it: Obamacare is in serious political trouble. And progressives need to step up and start fighting to save it right now.”
Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org, says the problems have given opponents of Obamacare a chance to argue that the whole law — which has been implemented in stages since 2010 — is flawed. “It’s manufactured political crisis that we really have now and not an actual crisis,” she said in a telephone interview.
For weeks, Republicans in Congress and other critics of the 2010 Affordable Care Act have been pouncing on the disastrous debut of the HealthCare.gov website. They’re not done yet – there was another hearing Tuesday of a subcommittee looking at the site’s security.
And while enrollment numbers are fairly dismal — in October, just 26,000 people managed to sign up using the federal website that’s the only choice in 36 states — some of the states are doing better and the federal government claims it is increasing capacity.
Even if the site does get fixed and people start to sign up for health insurance in droves, there’s another problem: the cancellations of millions of private health insurance policies.