The troubled launch of the Obama administration’s health care enrollment website was the focus of another Congressional hearing Tuesday. Our Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Geoff Bennett was there and has the story.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congress finally got its chance to grill a top Obama official on the botched rollout of the healthcare.gov website. Marilyn Tavenner heads the agency that oversaw the site’s creation and she apologized Tuesday for the widespread enrollment problems.
“To the millions of Americans who've attempted to use healthcare.gov to shop and enroll in health care coverage, I want to apologize to you that the website has not worked as well as it should. We know how desperately you need affordable coverage. I want to assure you that healthcare.gov will be fixed and we are working around the clock to deliver the shopping experience that you deserve,” said Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Series.
Tavenner would not provide the current number of Americans who've enrolled under the Affordable Care Act, repeatedly telling members of Congress the figures wouldn’t be available until mid-November.
“We expect the number to be small,” Tavenner said.
The enrollment numbers are said to be much lower than expected. And what's especially troubling for the White House is that the insurance pool particularly needs young, healthy people to enroll to help offset the cost of sick people who use more services.
Tuesday’s hearing turned partisan at times, with Democrats attacking Republicans’ credibility.
"Historically, the Republican Party always fought vigorously against these type of programs. I don’t think that one Republican voted for the Social Security Act, even though those old enough enjoy the benefits," said New York Representative Charles Rangel.
"That’s not accurate," someone said.
Rangel replied, "Well, we’ll see maybe one or two. I don’t know."
"I’m just saying it was staff in the White House," Tavenner said.
New York Representative Tom Reed said, "As you sit here today, you don’t know the name of the staff member you directed that to?"
Tavenner replied, "I was talking with several staff. I’m happy to get you that list."
"Why can’t you tell me that name here today?" Reed asked.
"I would want to give the entire list, I would want to give you the date, I would want to give you correct information," Tavenner said. "I think that’s appropriate."
Tavenner's appearance sets up Wednesday's scheduled testimony from President Obama's Health Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, as Congress continues its investigation.