Issa: HHS Secretary Sebelius should go if she cannot fix

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius should go if she cannot put together a team to permanently restructure and fix the technically troubled

"The President has been poorly served in the implementation of his own signature legislation. So, if somebody doesn't leave, and if there isn't a real restructuring -- not just a 60 day, somebody come in and try to fix it -- then he's missing the point of Management 101, which is these people are to serve him well, and they haven't," Issa said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "If she cannot reorganize to get the kind of a team in consistently to meet his agenda, then she shouldn't be there."

The administration announced Tuesday that Jeff Zients, one of President Obama's economic advisers and a former management consultant and CEO, wouldlead the "tech surge" to fix the website. On Friday, he said the "vast majority of users"should be able to access by the end of November.

Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee - which has promised to start issuing subpoenas soon if they cannot get more information in their investigation of the site's rollout - added that Sebelius should have to answer to why she didn't know the legislation was in such trouble.

But New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who hasproposed an extension of the insurance enrollment period because of the problems, said "it's too early to start placing blame" for the rollout, which she called a "disaster."

"There's going to be plenty of time to place blame on who was responsible for whether it should have worked on day one or didn't work or whatever. But right now everybody's goal should be, let's get this working. Let's make sure that people can get the healthcare they want and need," Shaheen said.

Shaheen's proposal has ten other Democratic supporters. Even if the website's problems are addressed by the end of November, as Zients has promised, she still believes an extension of the enrollment period is the right policy.

"The law says that people were going to have six months to enroll, that they would not have to be subject to penalties until the end of that period, and that's the concern," she said. "I don't want them to feel like they have to be penalized if they can't enroll because the system's not working."

Issa's committee isn't the only one investigating the health care law rollout. The House Energy and Commerce Committee began hearings on the website last week and Sebelius is expected to testify in another hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

Among other problems, Issa has alleged that there were political considerations injected into the site's structure, including a decision to make people register their information before seeing prices for insurance plans.

"The American people have a right, even they don't need to use the exchange, to be able to find out what those prices are, and look at them competitively against other opportunities," Issa said.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for