Sebelius To Testify on ACA Exchange Website Rollout Next Week
On Monday, HHS and the House Energy and Commerce Committee confirmed that Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify on the problem-plagued rollout of the Affordable Care Act's federally run health insurance exchange website during a hearing scheduled on Oct. 30, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 10/21).
Sebelius agreed to speak before the committee at a hearing next week after she turned down the panel's invitation to appear at a similar hearing that is scheduled for Thursday because of a scheduling conflict, the Washington Post's "Federal Eye" reports (Hicks, "Federal Eye," Washington Post, 10/21).
According to the committee, representatives from four federal contractors that worked on the HealthCare.gov portal and the new exchange data hub -- CGI, Equifax, Quality Software Services Inc. and Serco -- will testify at this week's hearing.
In a statement, Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said, "We are now entering week four of the botched health care rollout, and with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars spent for a system that still does not work, Congress and the American people deserve answers." Upton added, "And as the administration continues to withhold important details and enrollment figures, I hope Secretary Sebelius is ready to give answers and finally live up to the president’s celebrated claims of transparency" (Eilperin, "Post Politics," Washington Post, 10/21).
Decision Reversal Follows GOP Criticism
Sebelius' reversal on testifying before the Energy and Commerce Committee comes amid intense criticism from House GOP leaders and members, Reuters reports (Morgan, Reuters, 10/21).
Last week, Republicans on the committee criticized Sebelius for her initial decision not to testify after they launched an investigation into a series of technical glitches and the resulting enrollment delays that have plagued the exchange website (California Healthline, 10/18).
Other Republicans criticized Sebelius for making time to appear on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," but not to testify about the ACA's implementation.
Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, "The refusal of Secretary Sebelius to appear at this week's hearing shows that this administration is still not prepared to be straight with the American people." He added, "Every day new questions about the president's health care law arise, but candid explanations are nowhere to be found" (Boyer, Washington Times, 10/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.