KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Sebelius Faces Withering Criticism On And Off Capitol Hill

The Health and Human Services secretary is testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee today, as critics question her leadership of the department.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Sebelius Heads To Hill To Defend Health Law And Her Job As Problems Plague Website's Rollout
Eager to cast blame, lawmakers are preparing to grill President Barack Obama’s top health official over problems with the rollout of the government’s health care website. A growing number of Republicans in Congress are calling for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to step down or be fired because of problems consumers are having signing up for insurance coverage on the government’s new website (10/30).

The Wall Street Journal: Sebelius To Testify Before House Panel
The testimony by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who has borne the brunt of criticism over the website, comes a day after Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee. Ms. Tavenner apologized on Tuesday, saying the site "can and will be fixed" (Schatz and Radnofsky, 10/30).

Politico: As Turmoil Swirls, Kathleen Sebelius Takes Hot Seat
Not so long ago, Kathleen Sebelius was a popular two-term governor with bipartisan appeal, a possible Democratic vice presidential prospect, a woman whom President Barack Obama could entrust with overhauling the nation’s health insurance system. Even Bob Dole volunteered to introduce her at her confirmation (Dovere and Haberkorn, 10/30).

NBC News: How Did Obamacare Site Go So Wrong? 5 Questions Sebelius Must Answer
Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, apologized outright on Tuesday at a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee. Last week, officers of four of the main government contractors that built and are running different parts of the site, said the final testing had been too rushed — and a CMS spokesperson agreed. Now, it’s time for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to take her turn at hearing today. These questions remain unanswered (Fox, 10/30).

Fox News: Sebelius To Face Grilling At Hearing On Glitch-Ridden Obamacare Website Rollout
In written testimony released ahead of Wednesday's hearing, Sebelius vowed to improve the website and said the consumer experience to date is "not acceptable." But she defended the law itself and said extensive work and testing is being done. "We are working to ensure consumers' interaction with is a positive one, and that the Affordable Care Act  fully delivers on its promise," she said in the prepared remarks. Sebelius blamed the website contractors and the "initial wave of interest" for the glitches, but expressed confidence in the experts and specialists working to solve "complex technical issues” (10/30).

Bloomberg: Republicans Seeking Obamacare Accountability Tag Sebelius
A day after her deputy apologized for the botched Obamacare exchange, U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will have to stare down accusations that she wasn’t forthcoming enough about the potential problems. Republicans said they primarily want to know at a hearing today about the lack of transparency ahead of the rocky Oct. 1 debut of the insurance exchange, which is supposed to let people compare and buy health plans (Wayne, 10/30).

The Washington Post: Kathleen Sebelius, Welcome To An Unwelcome Washington Tradition: The Deathwatch.
It’s Kathleen Sebelius’s turn now. On the Hill, they’re calling for her resignation and tossing around words like “subpoena.” Pundits are merrily debating her future. (She’s toast! Or is Obama too loyal to fire her so soon?) Her interviews, more closely parsed than usual, seem wobbly. Though never a colorful presence on the political scene, she’s suddenly a late-night TV punch line (Argetsinger, 10/29).

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