HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius again assured federal lawmakers that the health insurance exchanges will be ready for enrollment this fall, and also said her department does not have a contingency plan in place if HHS doesn't achieve that goal.
Sebelius told members of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee that HHS is focused on getting the exchanges—a major provision of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—"up and running" after Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), the panel's vice chairman, asked if HHS has a back-up plan in place.
"You've had three years and billions of dollars, and you are not ready," Burgess said. "I think Congress needs to hold your agency accountable," he said, adding that federal lawmakers would have to consider seriously putting any additional money into the exchanges if they are not ready to launch next year.
"I think the CBO analysis when the bill was passed was that we'd need about $10 billion in implementation money; $1 billion was appropriated," Sebelius said to Burgess toward the end of the two-hour hearing on the Obama administration's proposed fiscal 2014 budget. "I can tell you we are on track," she added. "We have judiciously used those resources, and we intend to be open for open enrollment around the country October 1."