KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Defending Health Exchange’s Rollout Puts Sebelius In Hot Seat

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is being called to Capitol Hill by Republican lawmakers who want her to explain what went wrong with the Oct. 1 unveiling of She is also facing calls for her resignation. Still, according to Politico, her job is safe.  

The New York Times: Sebelius Thrust Into Firestorm On Exchanges
Republicans insist the buck stops with the secretary. But although Ms. Sebelius runs the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency directly responsible for the health care law, there are questions about how deeply she was involved in the development of the troubled Web site (Stolberg, 10/22).

Politico: Upton Previews Sebelius 'Grilling'
The chairman of the House committee that plans to take testimony from Obamacare tech contractors Thursday previewed his questions today in an interview with a local radio station. "When did they know that it was going to be so poorly run? What answers do they have? Did they alert the administration that there were troubles early on?” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) on Detroit’s WJR Radio. "There's going to be a ton of questions for them, and we’ll see how they respond" (Cheney, 10/22).

Politico: Marilyn Tavenner To Testify On Hill Next Week
The Obamacare grilling on Capitol Hill will continue. Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, will testify in front of the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, Oct. 29, on implementation of the health law, POLITICO has learned (Haberkorn, 10/22).

Politico: Kathleen Sebelius: ACA Delay Wasn't An Option
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said delaying the launch of the insurance exchanges was "not really an option" — even though those building the federal website knew about major problems days in advance. "There are people in this country who have waited decades for affordable health coverage, people who are so eager for this to happen," Sebelius told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta on Tuesday night. "Waiting is not really an option" (Cunningham, 10/22).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Sebelius: 'We Didn't Have Five Years' to Keep Testing Site
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday that under ideal circumstances, the administration would have had more time to develop and test the online health-insurance marketplace that has been tripped up by technical troubles (Nelson, 10/22).

CNN: Sebelius: Obamacare Website Problems Blindsided The President
Kathleen Sebelius said President Barack Obama didn't hear that there may be problems with the signup portal for his signature healthcare law until it went live on October 1. That's when the site nosedived into a technical abyss. In an exclusive interview with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the Health and Human Services secretary admitted that her department and the White House are displeased with the technically botched rollout. "No one could be more frustrated than I am and the president," she said (Botelho and Yan, 10/23).

The Hill: Sebelius: Obama Didn’t Know About Website Problems Beforehand
Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday that President Obama had no prior knowledge of the problems that HealthCare.Gov would face upon its rollout. Speaking on CNN’s AC360, Sebelius was pressed on when the president learned about the technical issues surrounding the ObamaCare website. The Health and Human Services secretary said it “became clear" to the president "in the first couple of days,” but that Obama didn't know about the problems until after the Oct. 1 rollout (Easley, 10/22).

Politico: Why Kathleen Sebelius Is Safe
Kathleen Sebelius may be irreplaceable — in that she cannot be replaced. Not because President Barack Obama wouldn’t be able to find someone else to do the job, or that anyone’s too pleased with the launch of the Obamacare website. But the White House and Democrats on the Hill know a potential confirmation fight would be so torturous and difficult that they’re better off sticking with the Health and Human Services secretary they’ve got, despite all that’s gone wrong on her watch (Dovere, 10/23).

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