Friday, November 1, 2013

ObamaCare's wretched rollout

Marilyn Tavenner, head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), testified to the Ways and Means Committee this week on the Obama administration’s disastrous rollout of the ObamaCare exchanges and their malfunctioning website. Here are some examples of how her answers to my questions contradicted her previous statements: 

·         Ms. Tavenner’s conversation with Rep. Pitts during her August 1, 2013 testimony to Congress (Note that Rep. Pitts asked her about the ObamaCare exchanges, not the data hub):

Rep. Pitts: “Do the contractors who HHS is paying to build these exchanges have certain targets or milestones that they have to meet?”

Ms. Tavenner: “Absolutely.”

Rep. Pitts: “Can you tell us today that every contractor has met these targets and is on time?”

Ms. Tavenner: “Yes sir, I can.”

Ms. Tavenner’s answer to my question about that conversation: “If I remember the questions correctly, what Congressman Pitts was asking me related to the hub, and the hub was progressing on time and on schedule, [it] still is. The hub has actually operated pretty much flawlessly, and most of the questions were around the hub.”
·        Ms. Tavenner’s written testimony submitted for her October 29, 2013 appearance before the Ways and Means Committee: “CMS has a track record of successfully overseeing the many contractors our programs depend on to function. Unfortunately, a subset of those contracts for have not met expectations.”
Ms. Tavenner’s answer to my question about that testimony: “I don’t think I said that [the problem with] was due to a subset of contractors.”
To sum up: Ms. Tavenner told Congress on August 1, 2013 – just two months before the exchanges became operational – that all the contractors creating the exchanges were meeting their targets and were on time. Then for her October 29 appearance before Congress, she submitted written testimony blaming the critical problems with the exchanges and the website on a subset of contractors. When I asked her about that, she denied having said it. Additionally, when asked by me and several other congressmen how many people have managed to get through all the glitches and actually enroll in the exchanges, Ms. Tavenner refused to answer, saying CMS would not release those numbers until mid-November.
Just for fun, let’s end with one more quote, this one from President Obama himself:
“This is the most transparent administration in history.”
For more on Ms. Tavenner’s testimony and the ObamaCare rollout, listen to my interview with John Batchelor here. And don’t forget to check the Nunes Digest for your weekend reading here.