Kathleen Sebelius to testify about Obamacare glitches

October 21, 2013
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters).
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters).

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius plans to testify before a congressional panel about glitches with the online health-insurance marketplace that started under the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans on Sunday accused Sebelius of dodging a hearing with the House Energy and Commerce Committee set for Thursday. They criticized her for scheduling an appearance at a Boston gala the day before the panel discussion while claiming to have a scheduling conflict that prevented her from attending the congressional meeting.

Health and Human Services said on Monday that Sebelius plans to testify soon.

“We are in close communication with the committee and have expressed our desire to be responsive to their request,” said agency spokeswoman Joanne Peters. “We fully intend for the Secretary and other HHS officials to testify before Congress as early as next week, as they have numerous times in the past, but nothing is confirmed at this time. We have always indicated to the committee that she intended to testify but that she had a scheduling conflict. We continue to work with them to find a mutually agreeable date in the near future.”

Lawmakers weighed in on the online health-insurance exchange during appearances on the Sunday talk shows.  Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said Sebelius should resign over the system’s problems.

“Absolutely, she should resign,” Cruz said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Why? Because the program she implanted, Obamacare, is a disaster. It’s not working, it’s hurting people all across the country.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) responded differently on “Fox News Sunday.”

“I think that may become an option. I’m not a big fan of those immediate calls for people to resign, but I think in this case, actions like the one you just outlined are going to make it harder and harder for her to do her job effectively,” Rubio said. “I think the transparency or lack thereof on this issue is very concerning.”

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) defended Sebelius during an appearance on the same show. “Listen, ultimately Secretary Sebelius will testify before Congress, you know that,” he said. “I don’t know the circumstances behind this, last-minute, let’s do it in a few days.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) noted her displeasure with the exchange issues. “What happened is unacceptable in terms of the glitches,” she said. “They were overwhelmed to begin with. There is much that needs to be done to correct the situation.”

To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed or e-mail  josh.hicks@washpost.comFor more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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