Congress Wants Sebelius to Explain Obamacare Debacle

Lawmakers on the Hill have scheduled an October 24 hearing in which Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius could be called upon to explain the rough rollout of Obamacare. is reporting that Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has announced a scheduled hearing to determine what went wrong with the Obamacare health care exchanges that have prevented most Americans from acquiring the health insurance they were promised.

Witnesses at the hearing, which is entitled “PPACA Implementation Failures: Didn’t Know or Didn’t Disclose?” will be by invitation only.

The Obama Administration originally claimed the problems with the exchanges were due to the number of people trying to sign up, but experts say the failures have to do with political choices made that delayed releasing key regulations until after the last election to avoid Republican criticism. This resulted in allowing IT workers too little time to get the sites up and running.

While speaking to Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren last week, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) said the committee is particularly interested in hearing from Sebelius, who is ultimately in charge of the fiasco, saying they could subpoena her if necessary.

” . . . (T)he way the system works is that the cabinet secretaries come before the committees of jurisdiction,” Lance said. “Obviously, we have the ability to subpoena a cabinet officer. But I would hope that the secretary would come before the committee. Chairman Upton is a very fair person, a very fine chairman. And after all, the secretary has time for Jon Stewart. I think she should have time for those of us who serve in Congress on these critical questions of this dismal failure so far in the rollout.”

He went on to mention that as recently as September 10 the subcommittee was reassured that the system would work by the beginning of October.

“Obviously, those assurances were not accurate,” he said, and believes the problems that are preventing Americans from signing up go beyond bad luck.

” . . .(I)n the signature issue of this presidency, you would think they would have tested it and retested it before the rollout on October 1st. And they promised that it would work on October 1st. And, of course, it has not worked.”

In addition to being next to impossible to sign up, insurers say the exchanges are also generating flawed data on those applications that do manage to get through, such as duplicating enrollments, reporting spouses as children and missing data fields. One insurer, Medical Mutual of Ohio, said one customer actually signed up for three different plans.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says the administration is working on these problems “24/7” and that in spite of the challenges in enrolling through the website, “those challenges are being addressed, and progress is being made, and people are enrolling across the country.”

However, when asked how many people have enrolled thus far, the administration claims to not know the exact number.

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