U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius should be asked to resign because of the “disastrous rollout of Obamacare,” Sen. Lamar Alexander said Tuesday.
“No private sector chief executive officer would escape accountability after such a poor performance,” said Alexander, a Tennessee Republican.
The Affordable Care Act of 2010, commonly known as “Obamacare,” set up health care exchanges, and the new HealthCare.gov website that rolled out Oct. 1 was designed to allow people to sign up for them. But the site has been plagued by technical problems, although officials have said they would be fixed by the end of November.
Alexander expressed skepticism that the problems would be resolved that quickly.
“Expecting this secretary to be able to fix in a few weeks what she has not been able to fix during the last three and one half years is unrealistic,” Alexander said. “It is throwing good money after bad.”
Alexander is the ranking Republican on the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. He said there are at least 1.5 million Americans who are losing health care coverage starting Jan. 1 because their policies are not legal under the new health care law, Obama’s signature domestic policy initiative.
“If the exchange is not working, they will not be able to choose another policy through that exchange,” Alexander said. “At some point there has to be accountability. Taxpayers have spent $400 million to create exchanges that, after three and one half years, still don’t work.”
He said Sebelius appears to have not told the president about known problems with the website in the months and days leading up to the launch of the online health insurance marketplace. And, despite repeated requests, she has refused to tell Congress or the public the reasons the HealthCare.gov website continues to fail, while insisting on more time and an undisclosed amount of money to fix it, Alexander said.
Alexander has also introduced a bill requiring the administration to provide weekly reports to Congress and to states with data about enrollment in the 36 federally run exchanges, efforts to resolve the site’s technological problems, and information about organizations contracted as navigators.
NBC News reported that Republicans and Democrats alike have been strongly critical of the site, and Republicans have said they believe the problems reflect weaknesses in the entire health care overhaul called for by the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
The administration denies this and says the website, one of the main pillars of the reforms called for under the law, is getting better every day, NBC News said.
More than 30 other Republican members of Congress also have called for Sebelius to resign over the website’s technical problems, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.