Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner will testify before the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday to address the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov.
The hearing follows a tense House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing last week, when lawmakers questioned the website’s contractors on what went wrong and who may have known about the problems ahead of the launch. The contractors maintained that CMS was responsible for overseeing the health care exchanges and was ultimately in charge of end-to-end testing and overall functionality of the site.
CMS could accept full blame for the troubled rollout. During a press call Monday, CMS spokeswoman Julie Bataille said the agency “takes full responsibility.” While the pressure is on Tavenner, she could be covering for subordinates, The New York Times reports. At last week’s hearing, one contractor named CMS official Henry Chao as their primary point of contact with the department.
But at the beginning of August, Tavenner said at a House Energy and Commerce hearing that “CMS is ready for October 1, and we are motivated and well prepared for the hard work ahead.” As late as the end of September, Tavenner was optimistic about a smooth launch of the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
The first few weeks since Oct. 1 have been anything but smooth. As the first administration official to testify about the failed launch of the federal exchange, and the warm-up for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Tavenner is likely to have a rough day Tuesday.
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."