Policy Feature Issue: What the Administration Said: Read Outs from the House Committees on Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Oversight Hearings

Readout of the House Committee on Ways and Means Hearing on “Status of Affordable Care Act Implementation”
Witness:  Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator, Centers Medicare & Medicaid Servers

  • Our number one concern is that Americans have access to affordable healthcare.
  • What anecdotal information we have received suggest premiums are skyrocketing and people are losing their current coverage.
  • The limited enrollment data we have suggests that problem is only going to get much, much worse when insurance companies start setting premiums in the spring.  We were hoping to get some real information from Administrator Tavenner about what was really happening so we could protect Americans from massive rate increases — not just this year, but in the future as well.
  • Tavenner refused to give the Committee the enrollment information and admitted that a conscious decision was made, in conjunction with the White House, to withhold enrollment numbers until mid-November. 
  •  Why is the Administration refusing to come forward with this data?  How bad is the data that the Administration won’t reveal what they already know?


Readout of Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing on “PPACA Implementation Failures: Answers from HHS:
Witness:  Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

“Hold me accountable for the debacle. I’m responsible.”
-Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (10/30/13)

  • Secretary Sebelius took responsibility for the botched Obamacare rollout, but did not answer basic questions about why Americans were misled to believe the exchanges would be ready for October 1st.
  • Secretary Sebelius did not offer any relief for the millions of Americans receiving letters stating that their health care plan is going away under Obamacare despite the president’s longstanding promise that they would be able to keep their plans.
  • Responding to a question from Rep. Pitts, Secretary Sebelius testified: “The website has never crashed. It is functional…” but minutes later she told Rep. Terry: “The system isn’t functioning.” Meanwhile, the website was showing error messages during the hearing.
  • Secretary Sebelius, the architect of Obamacare, refused to commit to join Obamacare’s exchanges. She even claimed it was “illegal” for her to join the exchanges, a claim disputed by information on the healthcare.gov website.
  • New documents raise serious concerns about the security of the exchanges, including that the required Security Control Assessment for the online exchanges was only partly completed.
  • After more than three hours of questioning, Americans are left with the same concerns around healthcare.gov, keeping the coverage they have and like, the unaffordability of Obamacare’s premiums, and a dramatic expansion of an already struggling Medicaid program.
  • Secretary Sebelius said, “it is not fair to ask the American people to take our word for it.” This is why we look forward to hearing from the secretary again the first week of December.