- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

She might not like it, but a Cabinet official in charge of Obamacare was made to sit alongside Jonathan Gruber, the man at the center of the health law’s troubled public image, for a public hearing on Capitol Hill.

Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, had asked the House oversight committee, which held a hearing about the health care law’s enrollment figures Tuesday, that she not be sat on a panel that did not include non-government witnesses.

That would refer to Mr. Gruber, the economist called to explain his caught-on-tape remarks about the “stupidity” of American voters and how Obamacare made it through Congress.

But the committee refused and set up Mr. Gruber and Mrs. Tavenner side-by-side — in close quarters at the long witness table — at the outset of the hearing.

“We think you’re right to be there. In fact, we think this is a perfect pairing,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and committee chairman.

Mr. Issa scolded Mrs. Tavenner for failing to provide requested documents about why CMS included 400,000 dental plans in its enrollment tally. When the dental plans are excluded, Obamacare enrollment fell to 6.7 million in the first go-around, or less than the 7 million target the Congressional Budget Office had estimated.

SEE ALSO: Jonathan Gruber apologizes to Congress for ‘inexcusable’ political comments about Obamacare

Mr. Issa said CMS missed the deadline in a subpoena for the documents.

“It’s about honesty and transparency for the American people,” Mr. Issa said.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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