- The Washington Times - Friday, October 11, 2013

Republicans on Capitol Hill are demanding that Health and Human Service head Kathleen Sebelius answer for the massive glitches that have shadowed the Obamacare rollout — even as the White House still tries to downplay the problems.

In a letter to Ms. Sebelius sent Thursday, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Sen. Lamar Alexander wrote: “We are concerned by recent comments to the media that the system suffers from architectural problems that need design changes. We seek information about these problems as well as whether you still expect individuals to suffer a tax penalty if they do no purchase government-approved health insurance.”

Consumers face a Dec. 15 deadline to enroll — and given the crashes that marked the exchange website rollouts all week, many might not make it. And some lawmakers say they’re not surprised — that they already knew Obamacare wasn’t ready to roll.


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“Despite the widespread belief that the administration was not ready for the health law’s October 1 launch, top officials and lead IT contractors looked us in the eye and assured us all systems were a go,” said Rep. Fred Upton, in a statement reported by Fox News. “Instead, here we are 10 days later, and delays and technical failures have reached epidemic proportions.”

A reported 7 million visited Obamacare’s signature website, HealthCare.gov, in its opening two days. Lawmakers want specifics on how many have actually been able to enroll — a fact that, so far, the White House won’t answer. The White House message about the glitches, too, has caused angst among many on Capitol Hill and around the nation. The administration and leading Democrat strategists have downplayed the problems, at one point saying the computer site crashes are actually evidence of the program’s popularity and success.

But lawmakers, in their letter, demanded more explanation.

“We are concerned by recent comments to the media that the system suffers from architectural problems that need design changes,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter. “We seek information about these problems as well as whether you still expect individuals to suffer a tax penalty if they do not purchase government-approved health insurance.”

Some media outlets have estimated the cost of the Obamacare’s main website at about $648 million. But other media organizations reported that estimate is inaccurate, and taxpayers actually shelled out significantly less. Lawmakers want Ms. Sebelius to clarify the contractor costs tied to Obamacare’s IT systems, and have requested “all communications” between these businesses and HHS as they relate to the Oct. 1 website rollout, Fox News said.