By Polly Keary, Editor
When the voters elected Suzan DelBene as the representative to Washington, D.C. for the 1st Congressional District, which includes the Sky Valley, they ended up with not one, but two, DelBenes in powerful political positions.
Last week, the White House asked DelBene’s husband, Kurt DelBene, to take over management of Healthcare.gov, the troubled website that coordinates health insurance shopping through the national insurance exchange, part of health care reform.
The move came as the Obama Administration sought the advice of high tech experts to help sort out the website, which has crashed repeatedly and experienced other issues.
The website is unusually complex. Based on hundreds of millions of lines of code, it links five federal agencies, including DSHS, Social Security, the Department of Homeland Security, the IRS and the U.S. Treasury to determine eligibility of applicants.
In addition, it has to interface with 50 different Medicaid programs in 50 states, each with its own eligibility rules and regulations. Some states’ programs have integrated into the federal website easily, others not as well.
On top of that, the website has to interact with many health plans provided by many companies, and has to move an enormous amount of information to providers from potentially millions of applicants, including applications, subsidy calculations and personal information, and do it all with heavy security.
Other high-traffic and secure sites like Kayak.com, which sells travel, or Amazon.com, which sells virtually everything, aren’t as complex because they don’t have the same levels of regulations or have to interface with so many other complex institutions.
DelBene, a former Microsoft executive, will work as an unpaid volunteer, probably through June at least. He is taking over for Jeffrey Zients, who is taking over the National Economic Council leadership in February. DelBene has experience with large complex tasks, having overseen 6,000 employees as Microsoft developed its cloud-based format, and as president of the Microsoft Office division. He is slated to retire this year.