(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued the following statement in response to the Administration’s announcement Tuesday that former Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene will replace current healthcare.gov head Jeff Zients:
“I welcome the Administration’s decision to respond to calls, including mine, for a permanent chief executive officer to oversee healthcare.gov. The Administration must continue its aggressive efforts to improve the website. I pledge cooperation with Kurt DelBene as he seeks to work effectively to ensure excellent customer service for millions of Americans seeking health insurance they deserve.”
Late last month, Blumenthal – joined by six of his colleagues – sent a letter to President Obama requesting a permanent executive to oversee the healthcare.gov website. The full text of the letter can be found below:
November 25, 2013
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As supporters of the Affordable Care Act, we have been deeply disappointed and frustrated with the many problems surrounding the law’s rollout, including the initial failure of the healthcare.gov website.
These early missteps are all the more unfortunate because of the potential benefits of the Affordable Care Act. An effective implementation of this law would mean that millions of Americans would no longer be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, have to worry about caps on lifetime benefits, or pay a co-pay or deductible to receive preventive services. Women will no longer be charged higher premiums simply because of their gender, young adults can stay on their parents’ plans until they are 26, and those without employer coverage can purchase affordable health insurance on the exchange with subsidies for low and middle-income families.
While we cannot go backward and correct mistakes made, we must now work together to fix the law so that it works for all Americans. To that end, we appreciate that your administration is making a concerted effort to improve the functionality of healthcare.gov, and we commend your decision to appoint Jeffrey Zients to manage this critical project. He has a record of success and strong leadership in the federal government and the private sector, and we agree that Mr. Zients is the right person to lead these efforts. But with Mr. Zients departing to become director of the National Economic Council on January 2nd, we urge you to quickly appoint a replacement and extend the duration of the position until after the 2015 open-enrollment period concludes.
A project of this size and scope demands the sustained leadership and day-to-day management of a chief executive officer – someone whose sole responsibility would be an unrelenting focus on healthcare.gov and who has experience overseeing large and complex consumer-facing technology projects.
The position should report directly to you and should be empowered with the authority to ensure that healthcare.gov is fixed quickly, completely, and permanently.
Like you, we want the Affordable Care Act to succeed and for every American to enjoy the health and cost benefits it can provide, but the law’s success is inextricably tied to the confidence of the American people. Sustaining the steady management focus that this position has already brought to the project would go a long way toward earning back the trust jeopardized by last month’s deeply flawed rollout.
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH); Richard Blumenthal (D-CT); Mark Warner (D-VA); Christopher A. Coons (D-DE); Mary Landrieu (D-LA); Mark Udall (D-CO); Tim Kaine (D-VA)