Bowing to pressure from House Republicans, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has reportedly agreed to testify in the House on the troubled rollout of the Obamacare website for health insurance exchanges.
Sebelius had been asked to testify on Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce panel, but she declined, citing a scheduling conflict and the recent end to the government shutdown.
Republicans had savaged Sebelius for refusing to testify, even as the administration acknowledged widespread problems with the website, healthcare.gov, that many uninsured Americans need to use to comply with the mandate to buy health insurance. The website went live on Oct. 1, the same day much of the government was shuttered.
But a Sebelius spokeswoman told Reuters that the secretary was in contact with the House panel and was prepared to testify in the near future. "We have always indicated to the committee that she intended to testify but that she had a scheduling conflict. We continue to work with them to find a mutually agreeable date in the near future," the spokeswoman said.
Shortly before the announcement from HHS, Speaker John A. Boehner and other House GOP leaders released statements criticizing the president's Monday event promoting the Affordable Care Act, while acknowledging trouble with its rollout. Boehner also decried Sebelius' resistance to appearing before the House committee.
“Americans didn’t get any answers from the president today, but the House’s oversight of this failure is just beginning," Boehner said. "Secretary Sebelius must change her mind and appear at this week’s hearing in the House. With more than 1 trillion taxpayer dollars being spent on a completely defective program, Congress is going to get to the bottom of this debacle.”