One More Problem With The ‘$600 Million’ Obamacare Website: It Didn’t Cost Nearly That Much

ObamacareEarlier this week, Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means David Camp (R-MI) announced hearings into the troubled launch of the Affordable Care Act, because “after spending over $600 million, the American people want answers” to questions about the law.

There’s just one problem: The Affordable Care Act website did not cost $600 million – not even close.

The magic number Republicans have repeated over the past several weeks first appeared in a piece by Andrew Couts at Digital Trends just a week after the Obamacare rollout. According to Couts, the website cost $634 million. That number is actually derived from the total amount in government contracts related to health care received by the company building the website, CGI Federal, over the span of seven years.

Digital Trends later amended the number to a vaguer, but still incorrect, “more than $500 million,” and by then the right-wing media was in a frenzy. Fox News’ Sean Hannity exemplified the response, raging that over $600 million was wasted on the “biggest technical screw-up in the history of man.”

A report from the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, however, finds that the website cost significantly less: around $70 million. Kaitlin Devine, author of the report, arrived at the number after highlighting all of the task orders for the CGI Federal contract.

“That [$70 million]’s not unheard of for a government website and it’s certainly far lower than the $600 million cost that has been reported in some places,” Devine said.

Yesterday, Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler fact-checked the $600 million figure and concluded that a “conservative figure would be $70 million,” and a “more modest figure would be $125 million to $150 million.”

The new estimate comes after CGI officials testified on Capitol Hill that the company had received $112 million for its work on the website so far. The estimated cost of the site is now $170 million, “with an upward potential of nearly $300 million.”

Though that figure is higher than the Sunlight Foundation’s estimate of $70 million, it is still half what Republicans had claimed.

Notably, it is also much less than the $24 billion cost of the GOP’s attempt to stop the launch of the exchanges they now complain are not functioning well.

Of course, because it was neither the president nor Democrats who blew $24 billion on absolutely nothing in just three weeks, you should not expect any House hearings on that particular price-tag anytime soon.

Photo:Will1ill via Flickr

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