Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be back on Capitol Hill Wednesday. This time she will be fielding questions from members of the Senate Finance Committee about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the failure of the launch of the website HealthCare.gov.
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) is a member of the committee. He thinks the session will start with a look at why the website used to sign up for new healthcare insurance collapsed on the first day and has never fully recovered. However, he hopes it will not end there.
“I think it might be more important to focus on the current efforts to fix this problem and then also the deadline that Health and Human Services announced that by Nov. 30 they will have this problem fixed,” Casey said.
Sebelius was grilled last week by the House Energy and Commerce Committee where some members called for her resignation. Casey said he is not among those calling for the secretary to leave.
“But I think it was very important that she very explicitly and repeatedly took responsibility. That’s the way it’s supposed to work,” said Casey, who thinks the agency needs to be held accountable.
Casey said he would not enter the debate over whether the Nov. 30 deadline is a fair or reasonable deadline; instead he is more interested in hearing how the administration plans to meet the self-imposed deadline.
“The administration needs to do two things well,” Casey said. “Implement the law well, and that means fixing problems as they arise — like this one, and number two they have to communicate better," he said. "They have to tell people what this law’s about what’s going to happen, and prepare people and guide them through this difficult process.”
Casey hopes the department will learn lessons from the failure to make sure future program implementations run more smoothly.
The Senate Finance Committee will gather Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. Max Baucus (D-MT) will chair the hearing.