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Posts tagged ‘United States Secretary of Health and Human Services’

Healthcare Official Linked to Obamacare Website Woes Retires.


The woman who congressional leaders called out after the meltdown of the Affordable Care Act‘s website retired from public office Tuesday.

Michelle Snyder, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services‘ chief operating officer, has worked in the sector for 40 years and had planned to retire at the end of 2012, said agency head Marilyn Tavenner, who told staff members Snyder agreed to stay for an extra year to “help me with the challenges facing CMS in 2013.”

“Michelle’s accomplishments over her career have been numerous and wide-ranging,” Tavenner wrote, listing a long series of programs and projects Snyder had worked on.

Snyder headed development of HealthCare.gov, which started freezing soon after it debuted in the beginning of October, then crashed altogether. The site temporarily was removed, underwent a rebuild and was re-introduced in November.

CMS Chief Information Officer Tony Trenkle was the first to leave the agency after  Obamacare’s series of pitfalls.

“Michelle Snyder is the one responsible for this debacle,” U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Capitol Hill during oversight hearings.

Sebelius countered, “Michelle Snyder is not responsible for the debacle. Hold me accountable for the debacle. I’m responsible.”

In a recent statement, House Government Reform and Oversight Chairman and California Rep. Darrell Issa had harsh words for Snyder.

“Documents and interviews indicate Michelle Snyder’s involvement in bypassing the recommendation of CMS’ top security expert, who recommended delaying the launch of HealthCare.gov after independent testers raised concern about serious vulnerabilities from a lack of adequate security testing,” Issa said.

“Americans seeking health insurance,” he said, “are left to shoulder the risk of a website that’s still an all-around work in progress because of the cult-like commitment officials had to the arbitrary goal of launching on Oct. 1.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Amy Woods

Perry to Sebelius: Don’t Blame ‘Pesky Texans’ for Obamacare Problems.


Image: Perry to Sebelius: Don't Blame 'Pesky Texans' for Obamacare Problems

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Gov. Rick Perry is defending Texas‘s decision to strengthen qualification requirements for Obamacare navigators, saying it’s not the state’s fault that President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare program has so many problems.

“Obamacare offers virtually no protection for consumers shopping for health coverage through these so-called navigators,” the Republican governor wrote in an scathing op-ed piece that appeared Thursday in The Austin American-Statesman.

The former GOP 2012 presidential candidate, and possible 2016 candidate, also took Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to task for suggesting that Obamacare enrollment would be going a lot smoother if “it weren’t for all those pesky Texans getting in the way,” as the governor put it.

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) is implementing “commonsense” rules for navigators who “probe Texans for their most personal and private information in the name of signing consumers up for Obamacare,” Perry wrote. “These rules are especially important given the minimal federal requirements navigators must meet.”

The rules include basic measures like criminal background checks, Perry said, to help protect Texans.

“Secretary Sebelius herself admitted federal navigators underwent no background check at all and could, in fact, be felons,” he continued. “TDI’s rules will help ensure felons, including convicted sex offenders, are not knocking on Texans’ doors under the guise of signing them up for insurance, and that Texans aren’t giving out their most private and sensitive information to someone already convicted of fraud or identity theft.”

Further, Perry noted that even though Sebelius has “bragged” that navigators get 20 hours of training, “it hasn’t prevented fraud documented in published videos showing navigators — who have already completed Secretary Sebelius’ training — encouraging applicants to lie about their income and misstate their smoking habits in order to snare higher subsidies and lower premiums at taxpayer expense.”

A new report by the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also points out the need for overseeing the navigators, he added. The report shows instances in which he said “navigators openly encouraged applicants to commit tax fraud to obtain subsidies they otherwise are not qualified to receive.”

But consumers are still at risk even if they don’t use navigators, the governor said, noting “security flaws” in the Healthcare.gov website that been “widely reported.”

“Clearly, Texas’ concerns about this program are well-founded,” he added.

Perry went on to describe Obamacare as “a colossal disaster and getting worse.”

“Until the Obama administration places the privacy and protection of American consumers above political pushback, Texas will hold the line on protecting our citizens,” Perry declared.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Blackburn: White House in ‘Full Panic Mode’ Over Obamacare.


Image: Blackburn: White House in 'Full Panic Mode' Over Obamacare

By Melanie Batley

Republican lawmakers are blasting the Obama administration’s decision to exempt large numbers of people from having to buy insurance under Obamacare — a last-ditch attempt to help the millions of people who received insurance cancellation notices because of the new healthcare law.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius confirmed the changes in a letter to six Democratic senators Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reports. She said the government would permit those who could not find affordable new coverage to quality for a “hardship exemption” to avoid a penalty next year for not having insurance.

ObamaCareYou Can Win With The Facts 

“This is a common-sense clarification of the law,” said Joanne Peters, a Health and Human Services spokeswoman, Fox News reports.

The administration also downplayed the change, saying the it is expected to affect fewer than 500,000 people.

Democrats have praised the announcement, but Republicans say it’s one more example of a healthcare program that is unworkable.

“We asked Secretary Sebelius point blank what would be the next holiday surprise, and she was silent. Yet, here we are with another major policy shift,” said Tennessee GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fox reports. “The sad reality is that when the law takes effect come Jan. 1, more Americans will be without coverage under Obamacare than one year ago.”

“Less than two weeks from going live, the White House seems to be in full panic mode. Rather than more White House delays, waivers, and exemptions, the administration should provide all Americans relief from its failed law,” she added.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called it a “slap in the face” to those already enrolled in Obamacare.

“Holding a fire sale of cheap insurance is not a responsible fix for a broken program. This is a slap in the face to the thousands of Americans who have already purchased expensive insurance through the Obamacare exchanges,” he said.

The insurance industry also reacted negatively to the news, saying the decision to allow people to sign up for “catastrophic” coverage plans would cause tremendous “instability.”

“This latest rule change could cause significant instability in the marketplace and lead to further confusion and disruption for consumers,” Karen Ignagni, head of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry trade group, told the Journal.

ObamaCare: You Can Win With The Facts

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Rep. Issa: Sebelius Reneged on Meeting to Discuss ACA Security.


Image: Rep. Issa: Sebelius Reneged on Meeting to Discuss ACA Security

By Cathy Burke

In the latest volley of a protracted battle over the Obamacare website, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa says Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius backed out of a date to discuss security issues, The Hill reports.

“It’s difficult to have a serious dialogue when the other party walks back an offer after we’ve said yes,” a statement from Issa’s House Oversight Committee said.

Issa had agreed to a meeting Tuesday, after revealing that documents from a contractor for the website showed federal officials knew the site was “vulnerable” before its Oct. 1 launch.

The administration has balked at handing over sensitive data, fearing it will be leaked — and even suggested Issa couldn’t be trusted with the information.

Issa and Sebelius have been feuding since October, when the lawmaker subpoenaed her for website-related documents, accusing the administration of “failure to provide answers” about what led to the botched launch of HealthCare.gov.

HHS official Jim Esquea wrote to Issa that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also wants in on the briefing, and that HHS is now trying to work out a meeting between Republicans and Democrats, The Hill reports.

“In light of these requests and the seriousness of our concerns, we would like to work with majority and minority staff for the committee to schedule such a meeting with you” and other leaders, he wrote in the Wednesday letter.

Esquea emphasized there have been no serious attacks on the website; he said HHS could have cybersecurity experts brief the committee, The Hill reports.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Sebelius Calls for Probe of Obamacare Website Launch.


Image: Sebelius Calls for Probe of Obamacare Website Launch

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday asked the department’s inspector general to investigate the performance of private contractors in the flawed launch of the Obamacare website.The healthcare enrollment website, a key part of President Barack Obama’s sweeping healthcare law, crashed on its Oct. 1 launch and was subjected to weeks of emergency fixes.

“I am asking the Inspector General to review the acquisition process, overall program management, and contractor performance and payment issues related to the development and management of the HealthCare.gov website,” Sebelius said in a blog post.

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, requires most Americans to have at least enrolled in health coverage by the end of next March or pay a penalty.

The number of people seeking health insurance under the law more than doubled in November to around 250,000, according to a government report released on Wednesday, showing Obamacare is still far from its goal of extending coverage to millions of uninsured Americans.

The website’s disastrous debut created a political crisis for Obama and fellow Democrats.

Sebelius, who is scheduled to testify before a congressional panel later Wednesday, also said she had asked Marilyn Tavenner, the chief of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to create a new chief risk officer position at CMS.

The new official’s first assignment would be to review information technology contracting and identify the “risk factors that impeded the successful launch of the HealthCare.gov website,” Sebelius said.

Late last month, the Obama administration announced that QSSI, a unit of health insurer UnitedHealth Group, would serve as a general contractor to oversee repairs to HealthCare.gov.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Cheney: Time’s ‘Person of Year’ List ‘Pretty Crappy’.


Image: Cheney: Time's 'Person of Year' List 'Pretty Crappy'

 

By Drew MacKenzie

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was left “speechless” when he was asked about the candidates for Time’s “Person of the Year,” including information leaker Edward Snowden, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Syrian President Bashar Assad, and twerking singer Miley Cyrus.

I’m, ah, ah, speechless,” Cheney stammered to Fox News Host Neil Cavuto Thursday night, according Buzzfeed.

Cheney said he thought Time’s Person of the Year would be “a tremendous honor.” But he added, “That’s a pretty crappy list.”

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

Time published its shortlist of 10 finalists on Monday and will reveal the winner Wednesday. The magazine decides on the candidates by the impact they have had on the news over the past 12 months, and not what they have done — negatively or positively — to contribute to the news.

President Barack Obama is also on the list, along with Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Pope Francis, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and gay rights activist Edith Windsor.

Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, has leaked some 200,000 secret government documents pertaining to matters of national security.

Sebelius, meanwhile, spearheaded the launch of Obamacare this year but has been vilified for the disastrous rollout of the HealthCare.gov website, with many Republicans calling for her to be fired.

Obama, who was Time’s pick last year, has been slammed for falsely promising under his signature healthcare reform law that people would be able to keep their insurance plans and their doctors.

Assad has been accused of killing thousands of his own people in Syria, including women and children, who reportedly died from sarin gas.

Singer Cyrus stunned conservative — and many other — Americans when she performed a shocking dance routine called “twerking” during a duet with Robin Thicke on the MTV Video Music Awards.

And Cruz has been attacked by Democrats, and many in his own party, for causing the 16-day government shutdown in October in an attempt to prevent the launch of Obamacare.

Asked specifically about Snowden, Cheney said, “I would like to see him tried for treason.”

When Cavuto observed that some people view Snowden as a legitimate whistleblower and hero, Cheney replied, “He’s absolutely not. It’s devastating what he’s done to our national security interests.”

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Watchdog Says Obama’s Hands-Off Style to Blame for Healthcare Woes.


Holding only one meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius before the healthcare rollout may have given President Barack Obama a level of “plausible deniability” if things turned out badly, the head of a government watchdog group said Friday.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

“Perhaps they weren’t sure how the rollout was going to go, and this gives him some level perhaps of plausible deniability.
Because, now, the Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is basically taking the fall for this rollout,” Peter Schweitzer, president of the Government Accountability Institute, said on “Fox and Friends.”

White House records indicate that the president met with Sebelius only once face-to-face during the three and a half years before the launch of ObamacareBreitbart reported, also citing Politico’s presidential schedule calendar.

Schweitzer, president of the watchdog accountability institute, wrote Thursday for Politico Magazine theorizing that the Obamacare rollout suffered from a lack of meetings between Obama and Sebelius. He suggested that it may have been the president’s delegation style that accounted for the lack of meetings, rather than any intentional effort to distance himself from any problems that might turn up.

“(It) could simply be the reflection of the fact that he’s kind of hands-off — that he’s detached, which has been a criticism of this president,” he said on Fox.

The job of a president, however, is to be engaged, Schweizer said. This especially comes into play when it involves the implementation of healthcare legislation that involves “a sixth of our entire national economy.”

“If you’re an executive, you need to know for sure, for darned sure, that the rollout is going to work, and it’s going to go well. It’s really incumbent upon a president to contact the people that are involved in this initiative,” he said.

Schweizer also said Obama‘s chief advisers, such as Valerie Jarrett, bear the blame for Obamacare’s failures as well because they should in effect know better. He said any presidents should always “surround themselves with people who recognize their shortcomings, or perhaps, their weaknesses.”

Editor’s Note: New ‘Obamacare Survival Guide’ Reveals Dangers Ahead for Your Healthcare

“People like Valerie Jarrett around him don’t challenge that. They reinforce this notion that he’s so brilliant that he’s bored with these meetings, and doesn’t need to participate,” Schweizer said.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Wanda Carruthers

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