More Questions to #AskSebelius

John Boehner

Today’s Energy Commerce Committee hearing with Health Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius starts at 10 a.m., and you can watch it live here.  As National Journal reported this morning, “Republicans will focus … on what happens Jan. 1, when they say people who signed up for coverage will face higher out-of-pocket costs, new doctors, and canceled employer plans.  For anecdotes, they’ll draw from a series of series of Google Hangouts the GOP has hosted with constituents across the country who have grievances about the law.”

POLITICO adds that “she’ll most likely have to answer Republican attacks on an ever-growing list of uncomfortable topics, from the canceled policies to ‘sticker shock’ to the latest GOP theme — that people in certain situations won’t be able to keep their doctors, contrary to Obama’s promises.”

Yesterday, we suggested several questions for the Secretary on these very topics, and on Facebook, we received many more.  Based on that input, here’s another handful of questions:

You’ve been touting these front-end website fixes, but what about what’s happening on the back-end, where many applications are seeing errors or aren’t going through at all.  Are you able to tell us how many people who think they’ve signed up for coverage actually have?  And isn’t it possible that there are people who think they’ve signed up but will be unable to access their coverage next year? 

In part because of these back-end issues, a “worst-case scenario” has been raised in which, given that more than 5 million Americans have been kicked off their plans, we have more uninsured people in this country come January 1.   Indeed, the administration’s most favorable projections call for 3.3 million enrollments by the end of this month.  Isn’t it possible, if not now likely, that this nightmare scenario will happen?  And if you don’t believe it’s possible, how can the American people trust that this will not happen?

Another consequence of these back-end problems is that this administration will transfer “billions of dollars in subsidies” to insurance companies based purely on their estimates and not hard data.   Speaker Boehner has said this essentially amounts to telling taxpayers, “Just trust us.  You won’t lose a dime.”  But why would any taxpayer trust this administration after all of the broken promises we’ve seen in this law?  How can they be sure they won’t lose a dime, especially considering how much more of their hard-earned money has been unexpectedly spent on fixing your website?

Shortly before the website launched, you said, “I think success looks like at least 7 million people having signed up by the end of March 2014.”  Is that “success” still attainable – and if it’s not – isn’t it fair to say ObamaCare, by your standards, is a failure?  And if it is now your contention that this goal is meaningless or inoperable, how can the American people trust any new metric you set?

What will go wrong next?

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