HHS on Wednesday was trumpeting that 10 million individuals have signed up for healthcare coverage even as senior officials refused to address "what if" scenarios should the Supreme Court rule against HealthCare.gov insurance subsidies in the King v. Burwell case.
Republican senators Wednesday grilled HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell during a hearing before the Finance Committee about whether the Obama administration had a contingency plan if the court strikes down subsidies. Burwell repeatedly refused to answer, causing Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the Senate majority whip, to accuse her of treating the committee with contempt.
“Sec. Burwell is a charming person, and she's obviously intelligent, but these hearings are absolutely no use to us if the witnesses refuse to answer straight-forward questions, which this witness has repeatedly done” Cornyn said.
HHS officials insisted that they are solely focused on the final days of the open-enrollment period, which ends Feb. 15, and the anticipated surge of customers. “We're prepared for it,” said Kevin Counihan, CEO of the federal marketplace. “Our system is stable.”
“Millions of Americans are counting on the Affordable Care Act,” Burwell said on a call with reporters Wednesday. “It's part of the fabric of their lives.”