GOP raises pressure on Sebelius over ObamaCare appeals process

Six Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are pressing Kathleen Sebelius to explain why the process to appeal an error on HealthCare.gov is incomplete.

In a letter to the Health and Human Services secretary, the group accused the Obama administration of not fixing errors on the federal ObamaCare portal.

The Wednesday letter notes the healthcare law “requires that exchange applicants be notified by an exchange in the case of an ‘inconsistency or inability to verify’ the information contained in the application.”

A report in The Washington Post Sunday, which the lawmakers noted, found HealthCare.gov can’t handle appeals of enrollment errors. 

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (Mich.) signed the letter, along with Reps. Tim Murphy (Pa.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Joe Barton (Texas), Joe Pitts (Pa.) and Michael Burgess (Texas). 

By Feb. 21, the lawmakers asked Sebelius to arrange for their committee staff to be briefed on the process to appeal errors, the types of mistakes or errors consumers face, and how the administration handles appeals via mail. 

The Republican committee leaders also requested the administration provide documents by Feb. 21 that detail the appeals process and the computer systems supporting it. 

A group of four GOP senators made similar inquiries in a letter to Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner Thursday.

Uninsured Americans now have less than two months to enroll in ObamaCare or face a fine.  

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services told The Hill Thursday they received the lawmakers’ letter and will respond directly to the committee.

“As we’ve said, of the millions who have applied for coverage, a relatively small number have asked for help by filing an appeal and we are going to get them help. We believe many of the issues that caused people to file appeals are leftover from when the site was not working well, and many of those problems have since been fixed,” Joanne Peters told The Hill in a statement.

“CMS has been reaching out to people who have filed an appeal, and so far have seen that many of the problems were related to these earlier system errors that have been fixed. In many cases, they’ve been able to help these consumers move forward with a new application, and without having to continue with their appeal.”

—This story was updated at 2:00 and 4:02 p.m.