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Bachmann: Sebelius should resign over health-care website problems

sebelius
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Sebelius's resignation is considered highly unlikely.

WASHINGTON — Rep. Michele Bachmann and 31 other U.S. House Republicans signed a letter Thursday calling on President Obama to request Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius resign over the technical problems plaguing the federal health care exchange website.

Obama acknowledged the website's issues earlier this week and appointed an administration official to try fixing them. Republicans have attacked the rollout of the exchange site and a group of conservatives said Thursday that Sebelius should take the fall for the problems.

In their letter to Obama, the group wrote:

Many Americans have found it impossible to sign up for the required health coverage or to simple learn about the new plans and associated costs. The scope of the problem is so great that, were this a private company or a military command, the CEO or general would have been fired. We are, therefore, calling on you to hold Secretary Sebelius accountable for the fiasco that is healthcare.gov and ask for her resignation.

Sebelius's resignation is considered highly unlikely — Obama's chief of staff told the New York Times Tuesday that the president supports her — but the fact Republicans are calling for it underscores what is likely to be the party's no-holds-barred public campaign against "Obamacare" until the exchange website's technical problems are corrected.

Bachmann also penned a National Review op-ed Thursday saying health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act should be voluntary, one of the policies she proposed late in the government shutdown fight earlier this month.

"Obamacare is forcing every American to purchase a health-insurance policy they don’t want at a price they can’t afford from a website that doesn’t work," Bachmann wrote.

The healthcare.gov gliches have frustrated Democrats, as well: Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan said Wednesday the technical problems have "damaged the brand" of the Affordable Care Act and said Obama should fire whoever was responsible for them.

Asked about Republican concerns over Sebelius, however, Nolan said, The president and his chief of staff, they know who is the point person and who is in charge, and I don’t know that."

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.

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Comments (15)

I thought she screwed up enough to resign, but....

if she resigns the Republicans will never aprove another person for that post. Obama knows it.

Actually

Bachman should resign. No one has less earned her salary than that sorry excuse for a Congresswoman.

government contracts

As a veteran of a few programming projects for government units, I know how these projects work:
1. Big idea
2. Make plans, assign somebody to write specs, somebody to hire programmers, somebody to test programs
3. Start writing program specs. Scheduled for 3 months, actually takes 6.
4. Start hiring programmers after 3 months. No specs so they "rough out" the project based on previous jobs.
5. Programmers get spec and start "real" coding. Several iterations of bouncing back bad specs for corrections and rewriting code fixes.
6. Scheduled 3 months of testing but coding not done so testing delayed until last week before rollout.
7. Rollout date arrives, most programmers laid off, error reports stack up.
8. Remaining programmers work on fixes and write documentation that was supposed to be released at rollout date.
9. Find someone to blame.

I think Sebelius should stay

she makes a great poster-girl for this administration. She got the job not because she's a competent manager but because she's a democrat. Firing her would allow Obama to claim that incompetence won't be tolerated and that he solved the problem. When we know that he's the problem.

That is so weak

Incompetence was defined by George W. Bush who took the country to its knees. Of course he had help, the entire GOP, who backed him the full 8 years he was in office. Then you have Bachmann who doesn't have any accomplishments to claim, doesn't know a fact when she sees one because she would rather make them up. The GOP can't run their own party and they certainly have proven they couldn't run the country either. It is going to be a long road home for the GOP.

Tester -

The right wing republicans whether you call them "conservatives" or "libertarian" or "tea parties" (a disgrace to the rebellion in the 18th c) are THE problem in this country - all of them.

Poster Girl

Speaking of "poster girls", how is Michele Bachmann in any position to criticize ANYONE's performance after her own Roman-candle career of one spectacular goof-up after another?

As poster children go,

Sibelius is nowhere in the pantheon of Michel Brown. What were his qualifications to head FEMA again, Dennis?

Bachmann and silence

What if Michelle Bachmann held a press conference and nobody showed up? Or issued a press release and nobody reported on it? Is there a more irrelevant politician in Minnesota? How about a Bachmann blackout by the media?

She kinda did that in Iowa

Ran a Presidential campaign and no one showed up.

And how about a compromise on the media:
keep running her stuff, but in the comic pages.

I suspect

…Alan Belisle is pretty close to the truth. Since Ms. Sebelius surely did not write any of the code herself, nor design the website, what seems to have failed in this instance is the private sector — the people hired to design and implement Healthcare.gov.

Mr. Tester can blame Obama all he wants — and we can ignore it because he'll blame Obama anyway — but if we're casting blame, Ms. Sebelius might be accused of bad management. That said, and I'm willing to jump on that bandwagon if it's justified, I don't know the parameters and specifics. What were/are the specs given to her by the law? How were contractors chosen? By whom? On what basis? Etc.

Yes, the person nominally in charge is supposed to fall on his/her sword when something like this blows up, but I suspect Bill Schletzer, like Alan Belisle, is pretty close to the truth in his comment, as well.

Who would Republicans approve to run a program they've done everything in their power to destroy? Who could Obama nominate as a replacement for Sebelius that would get past the Senate? Republicans have already crippled the federal judiciary by a combination of funding cuts and refusal to approve numerous judicial appointments. I've seen no evidence that they'd be inclined to be more cooperative with an appointment for Health and Human Services, and frankly, there's plenty of evidence that they'd be much more likely to behave as Schletzer suggests. It's almost impossible to reason with pouting 3-year-olds.

Not sure what she's upset about

she's been my congresswoman for several years, and I don't recall seeing her brain getting past page 1 the entire time.

Bachmann's ability to make a valid point

Cameron Parkhurst is correct. The noise Mz Bachmann makes is inversely proportional to the validity of her points. Complete silence &/or absence from her announcements would be a blessing to us all. The only other option is to question her aggressively about her fact-free statements.

Alan Belisle's experience is similar to mine, except it spills over into large companies in private industry, too. Even a cursory look at the horror stories of enterprise-wide systems yield the same kind of results. Yes, Mz Sebelius bears some responsibility for managing the whole project - provided she was the decision-maker on such things as Ray Schoch mentioned, but the whole thing is new, complex, and undercut by Republicans and others alike.

As for the reliably anti-Obama Mr. Tester, I don't recall the constant drumbeating about the Medicare Part D rollout, nor the botched response to Katrina, nor the really bad WMD "intelligence" that got us into a really expensive and unnecessary war or two. Systems, especially complex ones, are difficult to design and implement. It's especially difficult if nothing like it has been done before (there is a difference between the complexity of a state-wide and a nation-wide program).

Even if we have to start from scratch to recode the thing, it's still a worthwhile task. The nation is healthier when ALL its citizens are healthy. The Affordable Healthcare Act is a first step in trying to get there. Even in the face of Mz Bachmann's ignorance and spite.

I have to wonder...

Is it better to find someone to blame or to support the effort of a fix?

For someone so against the ACA, why is it so necessary to support the fix of the website being used to run it by asking for the manager's resignation? Isn't better management of the project what is being asked for or could there be another, unstated, reason? Something doesn't make sense.

Medicare Part D

was a horrendous rollout....a fact conveniently forgotten by the Republicans. Of course, there was never any call for repeal, and the Dems actually helped fix it rather than sabotage it further. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.