By: April Ryan, aprildryan.com
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is on the hot seat at the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing answering questions over the broken Affordable Care Act (ACA) website. Meanwhile, AURN has obtained some documents from House Republicans in that committee addressed to Obama Administration officials demanding answers to questions about the next phase of the ACA in these three letters dated April, August, and September 2013.
April 2013 (PDF) – House of Representatives Letter to Kathleen Sebelius
August 2013 (PDF) – House of Representatives Letter to Redacted Recipient
September 2013 (PDF)– House of Representatives Letter to Gary Cohen
Many questions in the letters center around the “Navigators.” Navigators are people and groups who Kathleen Sebelius said at the hearing “are hugely important” helping consumers understand the marketplace. Navigators are people who “facilitate enrollment in the marketplace” in federally facilitated or state exchanges.
Sources in possession of the letters feel the GOP Committee Hearing inquiries are meant to “intimidate and shutdown” the ACA implementation process that hit its Insurance Marketplace Benchmark of October 1, 2013. That as Republican lawmakers pushed for an investigation about the Navigators and also sent Navigator organizations letters asking them about their mission.
Late August, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, released preliminary findings of an investigation of Affordable Care Act Navigators, and the community and civic organizations that will be helping community members sign up for Affordable Care Act benefits.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce said on September 18, 2013, “The Navigators are well qualified to do their job and will be helping millions of people sign up for Affordable Care Act health coverage,” said Rep. Waxman. “We should not be interfering and diverting resources from these community and civic groups that are working so hard to implement the Affordable Care Act. The Committee should end this witch hunt.” Also on September 18, 2013, Rep. Diana Degette, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations said, “Our findings make clear that there is no evidence these organizations have done anything illegal, and, on the contrary, are taking all steps to effectively and efficiently educate the American people about this new law.”
But with that information, there were still some questions at the Wednesday hearing surrounded the Navigators. The White House believes a lot GOP push back at the Hearing is posturing particularly from Representative Lee Terry of Nebraska who asked about Navigators at the hearing and, in those letters that were answered through findings of a preliminary hearing. During the Wednesday Sebelius hearing, Terry said “I also asked our Insurance Commissioner if any of the Navigators, if they knew who the Navigators were and whether they had to apply to be certified or licensed, in essence, like an insurance agent would be. And they told me they have no clue who’s been authorized by HHS to be a navigator and work with people in Nebraska.”
Meanwhile, it has taken over three years to build the Insurance Marketplace website. But, when it launched last month the site was plagued with capacity, architecture, and authentication problems hindering those trying to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace.
More news and information at AURN.com.