WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services says Americans “deserve better” than the unreliable enrollment website which was supposed to be a user-friendly online resource for people looking for the health insurance coverage mandated in the Affordable Care Act.
On Wednesday, just more than month after healthcare.gov officially opened for enrollment, Kathleen Sebelius told members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee the site had turned into “a miserably frustrating experience for way too many Americans.”
She took responsibility for the problems and pledged they would be fixed by Nov. 30. “Hold me accountable for the debacle,” said Sebelius during hours of questioning from U.S. House members on Capitol Hill. “I’m responsible.”
First District Congressman David McKinley (R-WV) is a member of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee and questioned Sebelius about specifics related to the development of healthcare.gov during Wednesday’s hearing on Capitol Hill.
Like the other committee members, he had limited time to talk directly with Sebelius.
McKinley’s questions touched on payments for the contractors behind the problem-plagued enrollment website. “Who owns the software now? Now that this has been developed with taxpayer money to develop the software to do this?” asked McKinley.
“It is owned by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS),” responded Sebelius.
McKinley followed up with, “Will they be able to use it by license for other clients?”
“Not to my knowledge,” said Sebelius. “I think it is specifically designed for the marketplace with these products in mind.”
In another exchange, McKinley asked about the use of independent verification in tests utilized throughout the development of the enrollment website.
“At every point along the way, there is independent testing,” said Sebelius.
“Independent?” asked McKinley. “You recommend independent verification and validation, not someone within your staff?”
“There is a level of company, self-attested testing. There is a level of CMS testing and then there is an independent test of each piece of the contracting,” responded Sebelius.
The hearing in front of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee continued into Wednesday afternoon.