Sebelius Wants Investigation of Website12/11 07:29
Recognizing that deeper problems may lurk behind the botched rollout of the
health care website, President Barack Obama's top health official Wednesday
called for an investigation into management and contracting decisions.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Recognizing that deeper problems may lurk behind the
botched rollout of the health care website, President Barack Obama's top health
official Wednesday called for an investigation into management and contracting
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a blog post
early Wednesday that she is asking the department's inspector general to
investigate the contracting process, management, performance and payment issues
that may have contributed to the flawed launch of HealthCare.gov.
The website was supposed to have been the online portal to coverage under
the new health care law, but technical problems turned it into a frustrating
bottleneck for millions of consumers. It's working better now after two months
The announcement comes as Sebelius heads to Capitol Hill for another round
of grilling Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Lawmakers
want explanations for dozens of questions about the website's design,
workability and security. They also want to know why Sebelius and other top
officials repeatedly assured them everything was on track.
Although Republicans have called for Sebelius to resign, and some Democrats
have urged Obama to fire those responsible, the White House has given no
indication that a house-cleaning is coming. Instead, it has brought in outside
management to help Sebelius and her department cope. The secretary's unusual
pre-dawn announcement of an inspector general probe indicates that she realizes
she has some explaining to do.
"I believe strongly in the need for accountability, and in the importance of
being good stewards of taxpayer dollars," Sebelius said in her announcement.
The website has cost taxpayers more than $600 million so far, according to the
congressional Government Accountability Office.
In addition to the inspector general review, Sebelius said she has ordered
the hiring of a new "chief risk officer" at the Medicare agency, which also
oversees the new programs created to expand health insurance coverage under
Obama's law. That official will focus on making sure technology programs work
Sebelius also said she's ordered a retraining of her department on best
practices for outside contracting.
"The launch of HealthCare.gov was flawed and simply unacceptable," Sebelius
wrote. "As we continue our relentless efforts to enhance Healthcare.gov --- and
as we continue to adapt and improve based on the feedback we are getting from
customers and issuers --- we must take concrete action to prevent these
problems in the future."