U.S. lawmaker calls for tech officials to testify about Obamacare

A man looks over the Affordable Care Act signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this photo illustration
A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this October 2, 2013 photo illustration. REUTERS/Mike Segar

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials who helped develop or oversee the rollout of the flawed Obamacare website will appear before the House of Representatives Oversight Committee next week, the panel's Republican chairman said on Thursday.

Representative Darrell Issa said he wants to hear from these officials next Wednesday about why the website has performed so poorly, potentially preventing millions of people from enrolling in the new online health insurance exchanges.

"When HealthCare.gov launched on October 1, testing was incomplete, the system had not yet been fully tested for security concerns and new problems kept appearing," said Issa, a Republican.

"This hearing will ask top administration technology officials what went wrong, what they're doing to fix it, and whether recognized IT (information technology) best practices were really followed," he said.

Issa is a strong critic of the Obama administration. He has launched a number of probes, including one into the Internal Revenue Service's scrutiny of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, and a "Fast and Furious" investigation into a failed U.S. government sting operation involving gun running.

The hearing next week could shed light on what role various officials played in developing the site's technology. So far, the project appears to have been spread out among offices and federal contractors without strong oversight.

The officials due to appear include: Todd Park, chief technology officer at the White House; Steve VanRoekel, chief information officer at the White House; and Henry Chao, deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, was passed in 2010 and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. It requires most Americans to have health insurance beginning January 1 or pay a fine.

Republicans see the Democratic president's program as a costly expansion of government and fear Obamacare is too complicated and expensive to work.

(Reporting By Karey Van Hall; Editing by Xavier Briand)