WASHINGTON -- Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify before a House committee "as early as next week" on the glitches that have plagued the Obamacare health insurance website, HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters told The Huffington Post Monday.
"We are in close communication with the committee and have expressed our desire to be responsive to their request," Peters said in a statement. "We fully intend for the Secretary and other HHS officials to testify before Congress as early as next week, as they have numerous times in the past, but nothing is confirmed at this time. We have always indicated to the committee that she intended to testify but that she had a scheduling conflict. We continue to work with them to find a mutually agreeable date in the near future."
House Republicans have been demanding that Sebelius testify in a Thursday House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing on the delays and error messages that people have been facing when they've tried to enroll in the health insurance exchange portion of the program. White House officials say the problems stem from a higher volume of participation in the website than expected, but top Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), are insisting that Sebelius come explain the problems to them.
"Secretary Sebelius must ... appear at this week’s hearing in the House," Boehner said in a statement Monday. "With more than one trillion taxpayer dollars being spent on a completely defective program, Congress is going to get to the bottom of this debacle."
But Sebelius will be in Phoenix on Thursday, an HHS aide told The Huffington Post on background.
President Barack Obama said earlier Monday that there's "no excuse" for the technical problems that have surfaced with the website, and promised all Americans would have access to health coverage under his law.
UPDATE: 5:40 p.m. -- The House committee issued a press release later Monday announcing that several of the top contractors for the healthcare.gov website will testify at Thursday's hearing. CGI, Serco and Equifax have confirmed they will be there. Sebelius, meanwhile, is expected to testify on Wednesday, Oct. 30, per the committee.