Faster, pussycat! Build! Build! Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Faster, pussycat! Build! Build! Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

The chief architect of the federal health insurance exchanges, Henry Chao, recently told Congress during questioning that the exchanges are only about 60-70 percent complete, and that key modules, such as the part that sends payments to insurers, have not yet been built. Follow-up questioning made it pretty clear that he wasn’t saying the payment system hadn’t been fixed; he was saying they hadn’t finished building it. Chao defended this on the grounds that the system wouldn’t be needed until mid-January.

This is probably not as critical as the systems the administration is trying to fix; if the system can calculate subsidy eligibility and refer people to insurers with that information, then presumably the insurers can calculate the amount they’re owed in subsidy payments, and simply invoice the federal government. What it does suggest is that the web site is still in pretty bad shape, if they still haven’t finished building some fairly important subsystems.