Sebelius to Congress: 'I'm Responsible'
Complaints about Obamacare? Blame the insurance companies. Or the contractors. Or the press.
Over the past three days, the Obama administration has blamed almost everyone but itself for the debacle that is HealthCare.gov and the wave of cancellations that consumers are now receiving.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius did take some responsibility for the website on Wednesday, telling a House panel to hold her accountable for the site's failures.
But that concession came only after HHS had pointed the finger at three other parties in less than three days.
Sebelius' prepared testimony for Wednesday's hearing put the responsibility for HealthCare.gov squarely on the contractors who built it, rejecting their complaints about poor management from HHS.
Asked about the wave of cancellations hitting people in the individual insurance market, Sebelius knocked the press.
Sebelius said it's "important to be accurate" about plan cancellations, which are getting fresh attention this week because of an NBC News report. The report might have hyped old information – HHS said in 2010 that most existing individual plans would end– but that information isn't inaccurate.
A day earlier, Sebelius' deputy said it's not the Affordable Care Act causing insurers to cancel coverage, but simply the insurers' choice. And cancellations are only happening because insurers offered lousy plans, she said.
"Half of the people in the individual market prior to 2010 didn't stay on their policies," said Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "They were either kicked off for pre-existing conditions, they saw their premiums go up at least 20 percent a year, and there were no protections for them. And sometimes they were in plans that they thought were fine until they actually needed to hospitalization, and they found out it didn't cover hospitalization or it didn't cover cancer."