The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee noted that the Obamacare website totally crashed the day before Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was set to testify before his committee.
Sebelius made her first appearance before Congress today since the Oct. 1 launch. Last week, Chairman Fred Upton’s (R-Mich.) committee heard from the contractors involved in the bungled site.
Upton said Tuesday afternoon that he sat down with Republican members and “sort of went through what people are going to ask.”
“All of us are concerned about the cost. You know, they spent three years trying to develop the site, spent hundreds of millions of dollars. And of course, I don’t know if you knew this, but it went down again today. It went down yesterday, it went down over the weekend. It is not ready for primetime,” he said.
“We just got a notice from [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] and it was down even an hour ago. So I mean, somehow they have to put this together. But you remember, of course, you know, this is not – we are not Johnny come lately. We have been after this for a while.”
Upton noted on Fox Business Network that today’s hearing is the 13th they’ve had on Obamacare over the past year or so.
“And they assured us, they looked us in the eye, they said it’s going to be ready to run on October 1st. That they never even tested it end to end until only a week or two prior to the October 1 deadline. And it failed then,” he said. “Meanwhile, that is the easy step. The tougher issue is going to be what happens when those providers or patients go to see their provider. The hospital, the doctor. Are they going to be logged in? Is that doctor going to be reimbursed?”
Upton also focused on the line that Americans would be able to keep their health plans if they choose.
“Millions, I’m not kidding, millions of people are being told in the recent weeks that their insurance plan is being cancelled. So much for that promise if you like to have insurance, you can keep it. I introduced legislation yesterday. We’re going to try to put it on the fast track. We’ve already got more than 50 co-sponsors out ready. H.R. 3350,” he said.
That bill, introduced Monday by Upton, will “authorize health insurance issuers to continue to offer for sale current individual health insurance coverage in satisfaction of the minimum essential health insurance coverage requirement.”
“It says that if you have a private insurance plan earlier this year, January, you can keep it. You don’t have to give it up. You’re not going to be fined if that is cancelled. What we’re hearing from folks, in fact, whose premiums have gone up. They got the cancellation notice. They somehow figured out how to get through the maze. And then they are led to believe it is going to be perhaps as much as of 400 percent increase in their premium. And thousands of dollars in additional costs that they’re going to have to pay. So it is not right. We are going to try to offer the choice,” the chairman said.
Upton said they also planned on asking Sebelius about “the security of the information if the individual acts they logs in, and a number of networks have broken the story even today about some of that information and how it’s pretty easy to hack.”
“Last week the contractors who testified in essence said we are not going to tell you but HHS can tell you if they decide to do so,” he said. “So we’re going to be asking that question.”
The Sebelius hearing began at 9 a.m.