Weekly Column by Lamar Alexander: Calling for the Resignation of Kathleen Sebelius

Posted on November 1, 2013


            The president should relieve his Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, of her duties because of the disastrous rollout of Obamacare.

            Taxpayers have spent more than $400 million to create exchanges that – after three-and-a-half years – still don’t work, an additional problem on top of the rising costs of care and fewer choices Obamacare is placing upon the American people. Secretary Sebelius, meanwhile, has refused requests for more information about the exchanges and what went wrong, including a request I made with U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

            As a result of the disastrous rollout of the exchanges, the White House had to announce that it will waive the individual mandate fines for people who enroll in the federal exchange at any point by the end of March. While that delay may be okay for those currently without insurance, Americans should always have a choice in their health care. Unfortunately, there are millions of people being forced into the exchanges and losing their current insurance.

            We already know of at least 2 million Americans who are losing their policies starting Jan. 1 because many insurance policies they now have will not be legal under Obamacare. If the exchange is not working they will not be able to choose another policy. There is no relief for these Americans – just higher prices, a likely lapse in coverage, a broken website, and broken promises.

            At some point there has to be accountability. Despite repeated requests, Secretary Sebelius has refused to tell Congress or the public the reasons the Obamacare website continues to fail. Not only will she not tell us – the administration has done its best to keep us from finding out.

            It should not be difficult information to provide, which is why in addition to calling for the secretary’s resignation I introduced legislation, the Exchange Information Disclosure Act, which would require weekly reports to Congress, the states and the public on the Obamacare exchanges. The reports would include data on the number of individuals who have visited the exchange website and successfully enrolled, as well as information on the administration’s efforts to resolve the website’s widespread technological problems.

            Before the Internet, RCA knew how many records Elvis was selling every day, Ford knew how many cars it was selling every day, and McDonald’s knew how many hamburgers it was selling every day. These days – in the Internet age and with Wikileaks and Edward Snowden spilling our beans every day – what is happening on the Obamacare exchanges is the best-kept secret in Washington.

Expecting Secretary Sebelius to be able to fix what she has not been able to fix during the last three-and-a-half years is unrealistic, and no private sector chief executive would escape accountability after such a poor performance. The administration is throwing good money after bad, and it is time for Secretary Sebelius to be relieved of her duties.