6 ObamaCare Questions for Sebelius as She Hits Hot Seat

She testifies before Congress today

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 30, 2013 7:53 AM CDT | Updated Oct 30, 2013 7:59 AM CDT

(Newser) – Kathleen Sebelius is testifying before Congress this morning in eagerly anticipated remarks about problem-plagued HealthCare.gov, but you may not hear anything new. Politico reports that her eight pages of prepared testimony are, almost verbatim, the same as the testimony offered to Congress yesterday by head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Marilyn Tavenner. Of course, that's not stopping anyone from hoping Sebelius will address some questions that remain unanswered. NBC and CNN round up a few:

  • Why wasn't the site tested earlier? Officials have said they were running out of time and tests indicated everything was fine. But Republicans want a much better explanation, and contractors have said they warned CMS that more testing was needed.
  • Why wasn't the launch delayed? Tavenner said yesterday that CMS wasn't aware how bad the problems were at first. The questions for Sebelius: Why not? And when, exactly, did she learn of the problems and how bad they were?
  • Why so secretive? Specifically, why hasn't HHS named the contractors or experts involved with the site?
  • How do we know everything on the site will work correctly? For example, how do we know the subsidy calculator (which uses a complex formula) will accurately calculate an individual's government subsidy?
  • How much is this going to cost to fix? So far, HHS hasn't offered an estimate.
  • Can she explain the millions of people whose current policies will be canceled? Those people will need to switch to a plan that complies with ObamaCare's minimum standards.
It's probably not going to be a fun day for Sebelius, but in a profile this week, USA Today points out that she's used to this type of political fight. "She has been successful because she is level-headed," says a colleague from Sebelius' days as governor of Kansas. "She's unflappable."

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sits on a panel to answer questions about the Affordable Care Act enrollment, Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, in San Antonio.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sits on a panel to answer questions about the Affordable Care Act enrollment, Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, in San Antonio.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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