Paul Ryan Calls for HHS Chief to Step Down for Obamacare Rollout
(WASHINGTON) — Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius should be “held accountable” for the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Tuesday.
Asked by ABC News on a conference call whether he agrees with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican running for governor, that Sebelius should step down, Ryan said, “I do agree with that.”
“I’d probably say that to her if I ever saw her in person,” Ryan said. “It’s becoming more and more clear by the day that they knew the rollout wouldn’t go well.”
Since the exchanges opened for business on Oct. 1, the White House has acknowledged serious problems with the website that have made it difficult or impossible for some people to sign up for insurance.
Republicans have seized on the troubles with the website as emblematic of larger problems with the law. And others, like Cuccinelli, have called for Sebelius to resign.
Despite the “alarm bells,” Ryan said Sebelius and the White House decided to proceed anyway.
“That looks like a call she made along with people in the White House,” Ryan said. “And I do believe people should be held accountable.”
Ryan has pressed Sebelius for information about the website and the cost of the so-called “tech surge” that the Obama administration planned to launch in order to fix it.
In his latest letter, Ryan writes, “Your continued silence on these important inquiries after refusing to testify raises serious questions about the administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability.”
Two weeks before the Nov. 5 Virginia gubernatorial election, Ryan joined Cuccinelli on a conference call to denounce his Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe’s pledge to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid in the state if he is elected governor.
A recent NBC News/Marist poll showed Cuccinelli trailing McAuliffe by nine points in the race that is perhaps one of the most watched this year for its implications on presidential politics in 2016.
Cuccinelli, who opposes Obamacare, said that accepting the federal funds is “irresponsible budgeting.”
“It’s really an Obamacare expansion, it’s just in the Medicaid program,” Cuccinelli said.
“Medicaid has been one of the largest, most out-of-control parts of our state budget and we have to balance that budget every year,” Cuccinelli added. “That’s why this decision on the front end is so important.”
Ryan, who is the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is widely viewed as a rising figure in national politics, with an expertise in budget issues.
Though other prominent Republicans such as Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., plan to stump with Cuccinelli in the last days of the campaign, Ryan said Tuesday that his work leading a bipartisan group of senators and House members to come up with a budget compromise has tied up his schedule.
“I’m a little busy doing budget negotiations right now,” Ryan said.
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