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 firstname.lastname@example.org.