OPINION: Wall Street Journal Editorial: Sebelius On The Run

October 19, 2013

Will Administration Stay Mum on Obamacare?

Energy and Commerce Committee leaders this week announced a hearing for Thursday, October 24, to examine the health care law’s still-troubled rollout. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has so far refused to testify, but leaders sent a letter to the secretary urging her to reconsider the invitation. For months, the administration insisted that everything was “on track” for October 1. Did the administration not know the troubles that lay ahead, or did it not disclose them? Committee leaders previously sent letters to the administration and lead IT contractors seeking information on the “glitches” and failures that have defined the open enrollment period thus far. The committee has also requested enrollment figures from the administration, which have been kept from the public and policymakers to date.

October 18, 2013

EDITORIAL: Sebelius On The Run

The HHS Secretary refuses to testify about Obamacare’s rollout.

The Affordable Care Act's botched rollout has stunned its media cheering section, and it even seems to have surprised the law's architects. The problems run much deeper than even critics expected, and whatever federal officials, White House aides and outside contractors are doing to fix them isn't working. But who knows? Omerta is the word of the day as the Obama Administration withholds information from the public.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is even refusing to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a hearing this coming Thursday. HHS claims she has scheduling conflicts, but we hope she isn't in the White House catacomb under interrogation by Valerie Jarrett about her department's incompetence.

The department is also refusing to make available lower-level officials who might detail the source or sources of this debacle. Ducking an investigation with spin is one thing. Responding with a wall of silence to the invitation of a duly elected congressional body probing the use of more than half a billion taxpayer dollars is another. This Obama crowd is something else.

What bunker is Henry Chao hiding in, for instance? He's the HHS official in charge of technology for the Affordable Care Act, and in March he said at an insurance lobby conference that his team had given up trying to create "a world-class user experience." With the clock running, Mr. Chao added that his main goal was merely to "just make sure it's not a third-world experience."

He didn't succeed. Whatever is below third-world standards would flatter the 36 federally run exchanges as they've started up. But perhaps Mr. Chao or someone else, if not Mrs. Sebelius, can answer even the simple question of how many Americans have managed to enroll for coverage. HHS could easily resolve any confusion but it won't even talk to Democratic allies, friendly reporters and what it calls the insurance industry "stakeholders" that it will need to make ObamaCare work.

No doubt a hearing would be a spectacle—with TV cameras on hand—but Mrs. Sebelius can't hide forever. Even pro-entitlement liberals want to know about what went wrong and why, how much if any progress is being made, and whether the ObamaCare website Healthcare.gov will be usable in a matter of months—or years.

Read the complete piece online here.