This upcoming week is going to be an interesting one, as more hearings are scheduled on the Hill to address the troubled rollout of the Obamacare website.
From the StarTribune:
Republicans said Sunday they intend to press Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the Obama administration’s troubled launch of healthcare.gov, the online portal to buy insurance, and concerns about the privacy of information that applicants submit under the new system.
The Obama administration will face intense pressure next week to be more forthcoming about how many people have actually succeeded in enrolling for coverage in the new insurance markets. Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner is to testify during a House hearing on Tuesday, followed Wednesday by Sebelius before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The officials will also be grilled on how such crippling technical problems could have gone undetected prior to the website’s Oct. 1 launch.
“The incompetence in building this website is staggering,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., the second ranking Republican on the panel and an opponent of the law.
Democratic Senator Jeanee Shaheen of New Hampshire, a supporter of the Affordable Care Act, told Face the Nation on Sunday that “The rollout has been a disaster,” and proposed that the enrollment period be extended beyond the March 31st deadline. (h/t Washington Free Beacon)
Indeed, other Senate Democrats have joined Shaheen in support of such a proposal.
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has also joined with Republicans in calling for a one-year delay of the individual mandate.
Unrelated to the technical problems with the healthcare.gov website, the administration announced last week that it would extend the deadline by six weeks after realizing that enrollees would actually have to purchase coverage several weeks before March 31st in order for the coverage to be in effect by that deadline.
We’re also learning, via CNN, that the numbers of those signing up for plans may not be what they seem.
Kathleen Sebelius meanwhile seems to remain somewhat tone deaf to the criticism, and continues to try and focus on any positive detail.
In an upbeat blog post on Saturday, Sebelius released statistics to illustrate the volume of interest in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and the speed of the “data hub,” one piece of the complex system behind HealthCare.gov.
Sebelius praised the performance of the data hub, which connects to the Social Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service to verify applicants’ identity and income.
She said it took the hub less than 1.2 seconds to route information, and called it “a model of efficiency and security.”
By the way, Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, also the Republican head of the House Intelligence Committee, had a few words this weekend about the site’s security.
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