HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner will get their chance this week to explain the disastrous federal insurance exchange rollout when they appear before Congress in separate House hearings. Tavenner is scheduled to testify before the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, and Sebelius is slated to appear the next day before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Sebelius, Tavenner will air their sides on exchange rollout during separate hearings
Meanwhile, a group of House Republicans urged President Barack Obama in a letter to ask Sebelius to resign. But in Phoenix last week, Sebelius addressed those calls by saying, “the majority of people calling for me to resign … are people who I don't work for and who do not want this program to work in the first place. I have had frequent conversations with the president and I have committed to him that my role is to get the program up and running, and we will do just that.” Some observers say the president is unlikely to sack Sebelius because he would have a hard time getting any successor confirmed.
Dan Mendelson of Avalere Health said he hopes Tavenner and Sebelius will acknowledge mistakes in the design and launch of the HealthCare.gov site, and emphasize that call centers and insurance brokers are available to help consumers apply without using the online site.
Mendelson also noted that the number of applications submitted so far for exchange plan coverage—which the CMS has said is nearly 700,000—exceeds enrollment in the Medicare Part D drug benefit program over the same time period when that program was launched in 2006 during the George W. Bush administration.
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