Ray Locker and Kelly Kennedy, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON - The Department of Health and Human Services realizes the problems with the HealthCare.gov website and is working hard to fix them, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says in testimony prepared for a House hearing. But she says she realizes that the experience "has been frustrating for many Americans."
Sebelius is scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday as part of a series of House hearings into the website and issues related to the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Her prepared testimony echoes many of the comments made Tuesday by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Director Marilyn Tavenner before the House Ways and Means Committee.
Tavenner apologized for the site's problems Tuesday and said the department was working to fix them. Sebelius will say the same, according to her prepared testimony.
"The initial consumer experience of HealthCare.gov has not lived up to the expectations of the American people and is not acceptable," Sebelius said. "We are committed to fixing these problems as soon as possible."
On Thursday, representatives of the private contractors who helped build the site testified before the Energy and Commerce Committee and said they lacked the time to test the site adequately before its Oct. 1 launch.
Sebelius' testimony says HHS has updated the system with new code and help from experts inside and outside the government. Last week, Jeffrey Zients, a former acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, was named to lead the website fix. He said the site will be fixed by Nov. 30.
Wednesday's appearance has been long awaited by House Republicans, who were critical of Sebelius' inability to appear before last week's hearing. She cited a previous commitment to appear at a health care event in Phoenix, and her appearance was set for Wednesday.