Health care website in review, Sebelius tells House panel
By McClatchy Newspapers
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, 7:57 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has asked her department's inspector general, Daniel Levinson, to review the contracting and project management problems that led to the bungled rollout of the HealthCare.gov website.
The move is one of three initiatives Sebelius announced on Wednesday in a blog post and in testimony before the health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The directives were advanced on the heels of new figures that show HealthCare.gov enrollments, though still small, quadrupled from October to November. That enrollment boost gave Sebelius a rare piece of good news to share with Republicans who have criticized the website's performance since its disastrous debut on Oct. 1.
A colossal site repair effort by hundreds of federal and private-sector information technology experts is credited with sparking the November enrollment turnaround, which has helped bring more than 28.4 million visitors to HealthCare.gov since Oct. 1.
Calling the website's debut “flawed, frustrating and unacceptable,” Sebelius said it's time to review what went wrong.
“I believe strongly in accountability and our obligation as public servants to be good stewards of taxpayers' dollars,” she testified. “Now that the website is working more smoothly, I've determined it's the right time to begin a process to better understand the structural and managerial policies that led to the flawed launch so we can take action and avoid these problems in the future.”
Asked by Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., whether she would have delayed the site launch based on the information she now has, Sebelius said she's “not sure what the right answer is.”
“I would have probably done a slower launch, maybe with fewer people, and done some additional beta testing” to make sure the system was operational, she said.
The federal health secretary testified that HHS has paid $319 million of the $677 million in IT costs to set up the online insurance marketplace.
Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill, challenged the accuracy of the latest figures showing 365,000 new marketplace enrollees.
Shimkus said the number was “fraudulent” because it wasn't clear how many of the enrollees had actually paid for coverage. Sebelius pointed out that payments aren't due until the end of December for coverage to begin on Jan. 1.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Powerful quake shakes N. California; no injuries
- Obama gets in some golf on family trip to Key Largo
- Expats renounce citizenship over U.S. tax hassles
- Scientists: Test West Coast for Fukushima radiation
- Kansas public school funding unconstitutional
- Climate contraptions get real consideration
- Officer among 3 men killed in Ohio club shooting
- Climate contraptions get real consideration
- 273 cited in Ohio in year for texting, driving
- Americans riding public transit in record numbers
- House foils Obama’s new power plant limits on carbon pollution