Ways and Means Threatens Subpoena Over Obamacare Numbers

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Saturday, 02 Nov 2013 01:07 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The House Ways and Means Committee Friday threatened to subpoena the Obama administration to access enrollment figures for health care exchanges.

"The failed launch of the exchanges, combined with the millions of cancellation notices, is putting Americans' healthcare coverage at risk," Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Camp wrote in a letter to Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner, Fox News reports.

He asked Tavenner that enrollment figures be released immediately, saying the nation is facing a crisis.

Media reports show the administration has access to daily enrollment figures, but Tavenner would not provide the committee with signup numbers during a meeting with the committee this past week.

"By all media accounts, enrollment in the exchanges is thus far significantly behind the administration's projections, Camp said. But the Obama administration said its first numbers will be released in mid-November after the Department of Health and Human Services collects information.

"The committee is not prepared to wait until 'around mid-November' for the administration's scrubbed and spun numbers," Camp wrote. "Enrollment data exists today that will help this committee begin to address the implications of the failed launch."

Camp said the continuing refusal to comply will result in subpoenas being issued.

The HHS was already subpoenaed on Thursday, when House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., issued a demand to turn over documents related to the continued technical problems with the Obamacare exchanges' website, healthcare.gov.

Issa's committee released documents Thursday showing only six people were able to enroll on Oct. 1, the first day Obamacare launched, when around 3 million tried to go online. The number went up to 248 on the second day, reports The Washington Times.
HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said Issa's statement "appeared to be notes. They do not include official enrollment statistics."

She told The Washington Times that the HHS plans to "release enrollment statistics on a monthly basis after coordinating information from different sources such as paper, on-line, and call centers, verifying with insurers, and collecting data from states."

On Friday, White House Spokesman Jay Carney acknowledged the October figures will lower than had been expected because of the website's problems, reports Fox News.

Initially, administration projections said nearly 500,000 people would sign up in October.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, meeting with Obamacare enrollment partners before in Memphis on Friday before addressing more than 100 people at an area library interested in signing up, said there is still an "extraordinary amount of misinformation" when it comes to Obamacare.

"If 55 percent of the people understand a little more about how it affects them and their families, that means that 45 percent of the people still don't have any idea, and may have believed that there is anything from death panels for Medicare constituents or something will happen to their health benefits or any number of things that continue to be said over and over again," she said.

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