Important Questions for Secretary Burwell

What is the administration doing in advance of the upcoming Supreme Court decision regarding Obamacare? When will the backend of finally be built? These are just a couple of the important questions Americans are asking about the president’s health care law as the second open enrollment period was scheduled to end (even more so as it has been opened again with the administration’s latest executive extension) and as the Supreme Court prepares for oral arguments in King v. Burwell next week. Tomorrow, the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will pose these questions and more directly to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

What is the administration doing in advance of King v. Burwell? 

On January 28, my colleagues at the Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to Secretary Burwell asking for any documents regarding the administration’s contingency planning for the King v. Burwell decision. We explained, “Given HHS’s responsibilities, we believe it is prudent that the Department plan for the full range of potential outcomes and consequences of the Court’s decision.”

We did not hear from the administration until Tuesday this week (nearly a week after the deadline), and the response we were given was certainly not an answer. It’s hard to fathom that the administration would bury its head in the sand and fail to engage in any contingency planning, but we still do not even know who in the administration is preparing for possible outcomes of the case or what administrative options they have contemplated. Secretary Burwell’s response only raises more questions for tomorrow.

When will the backend finally be built?

Our committee uncovered in November 2013 that the backend of was not yet built. Then HHS-Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in December 2013 that it would be functional mid-January 2014. Here we are, more than a year after that missed deadline, and the CEO says it will not be built until President Obama is out of the White House.

The messy implementation of this law has real consequences for the American people, including the 800,000 who recently received word that the administration sent them inaccurate information, and that a solution is to delay filing their taxes.

Sadly, this has been the story throughout the implementation of the president’s health care law. Tomorrow is another opportunity for the administration to finally choose transparency.

 Watch the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee live online here at 10 AM on Thursday, February 26.

— Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA)

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