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.