The Post reports: “Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is stepping down, according to an Obama administration official, ending about a five-year-long run in her job. President Obama intends to nominate Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell as her replacement, the official said Thursday.” Until the tell-all memoirs come out, we’ll not know exactly how much of the blame for the Obamacare misrepresentations, incompetence and lack of transparency was Sebelius’s doing and how much was directed by the White House.
Her resignation, however, gives Republicans the perfect opportunity to demand answers from the administration. Her replacement should not be confirmed unless and until Congress and the American people have answers to these and other questions:
How many people who have enrolled have paid premiums?
How many were previously insured?
What is the mix of old and young sign-ups?
What is the cost per enrollee for Obamacare?
How much did it cost to fix the Web site?
What is the average cost of premiums? Is it more or less than the average cost previously paid?
Will the administration be forced to reimburse the insurance companies via the “risk corridors”? If so, how much will that cost?
What will be the average cost of premiums next year?
How many Americans are still uninsured? How many young people?
How many Americans will be fined for refusing to buy insurance? What is the average penalty?
How has choice of doctor been affected by more restrictive networks in the plans available through the exchanges?
There are plenty more questions. But the mere fact that the administration has provided no answers to these and other basic ones is a reflection of the White House’s disdain for disclosure. To the extent they claim they don’t have this information, officials should find it and provide it before the new secretary is confirmed. How else are the voters and Congress to assess the program’s performance and modify it as needed?
The administration is attempting to control the information flow so as to tamp down on criticism of the plan. That’s this White House’s style, but with a new nominee, Congress could have leverage to find out what is going on. Otherwise we may never find out.