Republicans to investigate exchange failures, demand Sebelius testify

Republican lawmakers said they will investigate the beleaguered rollout of the health insurance exchanges, starting with a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee later this week.

"It's well past time for the administration to be straight and transparent with the American people," Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in a statement. "Top administration officials repeatedly testified everything was on track, but the broad technological failures reveal that was not the case."

However, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has reportedly refused the committee's request to testify at the hearing on Oct. 24. Upton and other majority members of the committee invited HHS Secretary Sebelius to appear at the hearing but have been told that she won't attend. And HHS won't provide any other officials in her place, the GOP members said in a letter to Sebelius.

"We believe the American people deserve answers to important questions related to the department's implementation of the exchanges, and a failure to appear voluntarily to discuss the law's unfolding challenging would only deepen our concerns," they said in the letter.

Upton called the opening of the exchanges "a complete mess, beyond the worst case scenario," adding that "Secretary Sebelius had time for Jon Stewart, and we expect her to have time for Congress."

The Energy and Commerce committee isn't the only group of Republican House members that plans to hold hearings on the less-than-stellar exchange rollout. At least two other House committees intend to address the problems associated with the marketplaces, including online security, fraud and new health plans, Reuters reported.

To learn more:
- here's the House committee statement and letter (.pdf)
- read the Reuters article

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