Some Questions for Kathleen Sebelius
Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, will testify next Wednesday, October 30, at a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing regarding the ObamaCare rollout debacle.
In typical Republican style, most committee members will likely forfeit any meaningful inquiry, instead delivering grandiose, self-serving speeches on what a horrible job she is doing and demanding her resignation, leaving her little time to respond. Can we find out something we don't already know?
Thus, rather than let another Obama functionary off the hook, maybe a just a few interrogators will take a cue from C-SPAN's retired Brian Lamb, the master at suppressing his own ego while asking guests simple but penetrating questions.
Here are ten sets of questions for Kathleen Sebelius:
1) What were the criteria to select the contractor(s) for the design and development of the ObamaCare online portal, and what were their qualifications and experience? Did any of your undersecretaries or deputies have any experience in managing successful interactive website design/development projects for millions of simultaneous users -- within two years immediately prior to commencing the website design/development? If so, who, and what was his/her experience?
2) Given that there are some 180 million Americans over age 26 who will need health care insurance , how many customers did you expect, and for how many per-day interactive website visits did you build capacity?
3) Amazon has over 30 million repeat customers annually and over 600 million website visits annually. The company manages hundreds of thousands of interactive transactions and inventory/logistics/payment info with thousands of direct vendors, and thousands of third-party sellers, and oversees billions of secured credit card authorizations. Was anyone at Amazon contacted for advice or consultation? If not, why not?
4) Why wasn't a simple portal constructed where anyone can browse for factual, fully disclosed, and transparent comparative information without enrolling or submitting personal data?
5) President Obama apparently has contacted Verizon for help. What makes Verizon qualified? Has Verizon ever constructed or fixed such a system? How much did Verizon executives contribute to president Obama's re-election campaign?
6) How many call centers do you have, and where are they located? Who runs the call centers, how many employees are there, and how are they qualified? What background checks are done for ObamaCare system and call center employees? How long will it take for your call center(s) to interact with 180 million Americans? Will call center operators have an offline system, or must they also use the same website portal for online users?
7) How much did this website development and rollout cost? Are there any contractor incentives or penalties? How does this compare with Amazon system costs -- overall and transaction cost per capita?
8) When did you know that this system was not going to work? What was the protocol for system testing? Why did you approve the launch on October 1 when you knew that the system would fail? Was a pilot or beta test program developed? If no pilot, why not? What guarantees did the contractors provide to you that the system would work?
9) John Boehner, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, asked, "How can we tax people for not buying a product from a website that doesn't work?" What is your answer to Speaker Boehner?
10) When do you expect the system to be fixed -- i.e. fully functional, meaning able to handle traffic and transactions from 180 million Americans? What will happen if enrollments are completed, but claims cannot be paid, and health care providers drop out because of payments defaulted by the U.S. government or its exchange partners? How do you know that subsidies will go only to those citizens who are lawfully entitled to them?
Bonus questions: What assurances can you provide Americans that their private tax returns, Social Security, and medical records information will remain private and confidential? Why should Americans trust confidentiality from a government that spies on U.S. citizens and has a dysfunctional operating system designed with outdated technology run by operators with zero background checks?
The House Energy and Commerce Committee should let the witness display gross incompetence, highlight her failure to faithfully execute regulations that she wrote, and reveal how she has misled Americans on both the readiness and integrity of a system that will affect their daily lives and disrupt 18% of the U.S. economy -- in her own words.
This is not the time for House committee members to assert that Sebelius is an incompetent and a failure, show how smart they are, or make clever sound bites for their re-election campaign press releases.
Just the facts, from Madame Secretary.