GOP to question Sebelius on health care website rollout

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WASHINGTON — Republicans plan to seek answers from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the Obama administration’s troubled start for its health care website to buy insurance, and are raising concerns about the privacy of information that applicants submit under the new system.

GOP lawmakers said Sunday that the Obama administration will face intense scrutiny this week to be more forthcoming about how many people have actually succeeded in enrolling for coverage in the new insurance markets.

Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner is scheduled to appear during a House hearing on Tuesday, followed Wednesday by Sebelius before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The officials will also be grilled on how such crippling technical problems could have gone undetected prior to the Oct. 1 launch of that website, healthcare.gov.

“The incompetence in building this website is staggering,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., second- ranking Republican on the panel and an opponent of the law.

Democrats said the new system needs more time and it can be fixed to provide millions of people with affordable insurance. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, said the system was “working in Kentucky.”

But the federal online system experienced another problem on Sunday.

A component of that system that has been working relatively well experienced an failure. The federal data services hub, a conduit for verifying the personal information of people applying for benefits under the law, went down in a failure that was blamed on an outside contractor, Terremark.

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