Medicare Chief To Get 'Obamacare' Grilling - New York News

Medicare Chief To Get 'Obamacare' Grilling

Posted: Updated:

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR and STEPHEN OHLEMACHER

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Trying to earn a second chance, the senior administration official closest to the implementation of the health care law's malfunctioning enrollment website will answer questions from Congress at the start of a pivotal week.

Medicare Chief Marilyn Tavenner will be questioned Tuesday by the House Ways and Means Committee not only on what went wrong with HealthCare.gov, but also whether lawmakers can trust Obama administration promises to have things running efficiently by the end of November.

At stake is what the Republicans' partial government shutdown could not achieve: a delay of President Barack Obama's law expanding coverage for uninsured Americans. As a result of widespread sign-up problems, even some Democrats have joined Republicans in calling for a one-year postponement of the law's tax penalties for the remaining uninsured. The insurance industry warns that would saddle the new system with too many high-cost patients.

Less well known than Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Tavenner was closer to the day-to-day work of setting up the enrollment website, which was handled by experts within her agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, along with outside contractors. Like other administration officials, she previously had assured Congress that everything was on track for a reasonably smooth launch in all 50 states.

"If people can't navigate such a dysfunctional and overly complex system, is it fair for the IRS to impose tax penalties?" said Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich. In a concession, the White House has said it will waive penalties for anyone who signs up by March 31, in effect granting a limited grace period.

Tavenner began her career as a nurse and built a successful record as a hospital executive before entering public service. Seen as a businesslike manager, she has enjoyed support from lawmakers across the political spectrum. Indeed, Republicans are calling for Sebelius to resign, not Tavenner. But the Medicare chief's professional reputation is also at stake.

On Monday, a spokeswoman acknowledged Tavenner's central role. The Medicare agency "has said we are responsible for the issues the website is currently facing," communications director Julie Bataille said. As administrator, Tavenner "has been in charge of the overall ... implementation effort."

What Tavenner knew about the potential for problems and whom she told will be key questions from lawmakers. Additionally, some are concerned about the security of the HealthCare.gov site. Others worry about unintended consequences from the feverish, hasty work to repair the site.

Sebelius is likely to face some of the same questions Wednesday when she appears before another powerful House panel, the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Momentum to fix the problems has grown since Obama personally acknowledged the problems last week. He sent in management consultant Jeff Zients to assess the situation. By the end of the week, Zients reported that he had two big lists with dozens of needed fixes, and said he was optimistic they could be completed by Nov. 30.

HHS also announced that an outside company would assume the role of general contractor shepherding the fixes, in effect taking over the coordination job that Tavenner's agency had been doing.

Although the administration has released a blizzard of statistics on the numbers of people visiting the website, opening accounts and having their income verified by the Internal Revenue Service, it has yet to say how many have successfully enrolled for health insurance.

The website was supposed to be the online portal to coverage for people who don't have a health plan on the job. Its target audience is not only uninsured Americans but those who already purchase coverage individually. A companion site for small businesses has also run into problems.

Under the law, middle-class people can qualify for tax credits to make private health insurance more affordable, while low-income people will be steered to Medicaid in states agreeing to expand that safety net program.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Two Suspects Charged In Carjacking Crash That Killed Three Children

    Two Suspects Charged In Carjacking Crash That Killed Three Children

    From Left to Right: Cornelius Crawford, 22, and Jonathan Rosa,19.From Left to Right: Cornelius Crawford, 22, and Jonathan Rosa,19.
    Philadelphia Police say they charged two men in connection with the carjacking that killed three children and injured several others in the city’s Tioga section.
    Philadelphia Police say they charged two men in connection with the carjacking that killed three children and injured several others in the city’s Tioga section.


  • PHOTOS: Sea Lion Pup Born At Six Flags

    PHOTOS: Sea Lion Pup Born At Six Flags

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 2:07 PM EDT2014-07-30 18:07:29 GMT
    He is the park’s fifth California sea lion. Mother Anoki successfully delivered her first pup under the careful observation of the park’s veterinary and animal care teams at Seafari Theater in the park’s Golden Kingdom section.
    He is the park’s fifth California sea lion. Mother Anoki successfully delivered her first pup under the careful observation of the park’s veterinary and animal care teams at Seafari Theater in the park’s Golden Kingdom section.

  • Feds: 6 Philly Narcotic Cops Robbed, Kidnapped Drug Dealers

    Feds: 6 Philly Narcotic Cops Robbed, Kidnapped Drug Dealers

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 1:20 PM EDT2014-07-30 17:20:24 GMT

    Six former members of the Philadelphia Police Dept.'s narcotics unit have been federally indicted, charged with using robbery, kidnapping and other tactics to shake down more than $500,000 in cash, property and drugs from suspected drug dealers.

    Six former members of the Philadelphia Police Dept.'s narcotics unit have been federally indicted, charged with using robbery, kidnapping and other tactics to shake down more than $500,000 in cash, property and drugs from suspected drug dealers.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • New Jersey detective acquitted in Maryland highway shooting

    NJ detective acquitted in Md. highway shooting

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 2:16 PM EDT2014-07-30 18:16:51 GMT
    A jury has found a New Jersey detective not guilty in the slaying of a driver during an alleged road-rage incident. Joseph Walker, 41, an investigator for the Hudson County, New Jersey, prosecutor's office, was found not guilty on all counts on Wednesday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. He had been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Joseph Harvey, 36, of Landsdowne.
    A jury has found a New Jersey detective not guilty in the slaying of a driver during an alleged road-rage incident. Joseph Walker, 41, an investigator for the Hudson County, New Jersey, prosecutor's office, was found not guilty on all counts on Wednesday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. He had been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Joseph Harvey, 36, of Landsdowne.
  • Amazon ships first order from New Jersey

    Amazon ships first order from New Jersey

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 1:31 PM EDT2014-07-30 17:31:08 GMT
    The world's biggest online retailer has shipped its first order from its new distribution center in New Jersey. The Interplak All-In-One Sonic Water Jet was sent from Robbinsville to an Amazon customer in New York. Amazon says it expects to employ more than 1,000 full-time employees at the 1 million-square-foot center just outside of Trenton.
    The world's biggest online retailer has shipped its first order from its new distribution center in New Jersey. The Interplak All-In-One Sonic Water Jet was sent from Robbinsville to an Amazon customer in New York. Amazon says it expects to employ more than 1,000 full-time employees at the 1 million-square-foot center just outside of Trenton.

  • Injured detective in Village shootout leaves hospital

    Injured detective in Village shootout leaves hospital

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 1:28 PM EDT2014-07-30 17:28:00 GMT
    The third law enforcement officer injured in a Manhattan shootout is out of the hospital. The NYPD says Detective Mario Muniz was left Bellevue Hospital shortly after noon on Wednesday. Hundreds of his fellow police officers cheered as Muniz left the hospital in a wheelchair pushed by his NYPD patrol partner, Joseph Trovato.

    The third law enforcement officer injured in a Manhattan shootout is out of the hospital. The NYPD says Detective Mario Muniz was left Bellevue Hospital shortly after noon on Wednesday. Hundreds of his fellow police officers cheered as Muniz left the hospital in a wheelchair pushed by his NYPD patrol partner, Joseph Trovato. Police Commissioner William Bratton has said the detective's protective vest may have saved his life.


Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices