THE BLOG
01/10/2014 09:12 am ET Updated Mar 12, 2014

Exchange Information Disclosure Act: You Can't Have Accountability Without Real-Time Transparency

Right now, we know some things about the dysfunctional Healthcare.gov and the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act, but it's what we don't know that should keep us all up at night.

What is the true number of people who have effectuated enrollment by actually paying their first month premium? How many Americans have created an account or enrolled in Medicaid? What level of coverage have these people obtained? Where is a detailed description of problems identified with website functionality, actions taken to address these problems, identity of the contractors involved in fixing these problems?

Policymakers and the American people alike have a right to know the facts in real-time.

We know, back in March, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) knew that Healthcare.gov was not ready for an October launch, but proceeded with it anyway.

We know, that after two months, there is still no easy way to sign up for health insurance online.

As if this wasn't enough, we also know threats loom about whether the personal and private information you are sharing with the government will be kept private and secure.

The President and his Administration have been unable to answer these fundamental questions about his health care law. That's why the House has announced its plan to vote on legislation I introduced called the Exchange Disclosure Information Act.

This legislation will add clarity and transparency to the new health care exchanges while putting important information into the hands of decision makers in Congress and the states who have to administer the health exchanges.

This bill is a mechanism for accountability so we can get the answers we - both Democrats and Republicans - need to know in order to understand what the next steps need to be.

The Exchange Information Disclosure Act simply asks the Secretary of HHS to report on how well enrollment is going. For members still supporting the President's health care law, H.R. 3362 is an opportunity to prove how well it is working.

It's also a simple a case of transparency. For those who think this law is broken and unworkable, this legislation highlights what is going wrong so that we can take logical steps to suspend, delay or otherwise repeal the law.

This information on how this law is affecting Americans needs to be up to date and available so that Congress and the states can conduct oversight and make appropriate decisions.

Congress has a constitutional obligation to conduct oversight of how tax dollars are spent - billions of dollars have been spent on establishing these exchanges. Congress and those in the states responsible for solvency of these plans cannot be subject to the Administration deciding when to "drip drop" information on what how Americans are facing in these new insurance marketplaces.

Not only will this legislation force the White House to come clean on the problems many are encountering with accessing the federally run marketplace, it requires the Administration to outline how they will address these issues and correct them moving forward.

The President has repeatedly said he will work with anyone who is willing to help make the system better. He's also made transparency the hallmark of his presidency. With this in mind, you would think that the Exchange Disclosure Information Act would be legislation he would support. Unfortunately, while the President likes to talk about transparency and accountability - he doesn't like to practice what he preaches.

Late Thursday, the Administration came out against the Exchange Disclosure Information Act characterizing the effort to get the facts as "extraneous" and "costly." Nevermind the fact it was this President who spent more than $600 million on a website that wasn't secure and doesn't work.

We have seen the disastrous manner in which the exchange website and enrollment process has unfolded. This Administration cannot keep Congress, the states and the American public in the dark any longer.

They clearly won't provide the facts and data voluntarily and so we have an obligation to assert our constitutional prerogatives to exercise some much needed check-and-balance.

Rep. Lee Terry (R-Nebraska) is a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the author of H.R. 3362, the Exchange Information Disclosure Act.