Key officials to be grilled by Congress over Obamacare site failure

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Well before the disastrous launch of Obamacare, a key administration official told Congress work was on track to roll out a tested website that would make it easy for Americans to enroll.

That is how Marilyn Tavenner described the launch of the website in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Aug. 1, according to Reuters.

Tavenner heads the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and her statement contradicts claims by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who said the government shutdown prevented the “luxury” of more testing.

The shutdown began the same day the failed website that cost taxpayers millions of dollars was launched — October 1.

“This is a large and complicated endeavor that I am proud to lead, and every decision is being made by my prior work experience,” Tavenner said before Congress two months earlier.

Cleared to visit the White House 425 times between December 2009 and June 2013, including for several meetings with Obama himself, according to visitor logs, Tavenner is seen as a key player in the decision-making chain, Reuters reported.

Tavenner will testify before Congress again this week, one day before her boss Sebelius is scheduled to appear before another House panel, as Republicans try to determine whether political motives were responsible for changes in the website’s function that lead to its failure.

At issue is the last minute decision to deny visitors to the website the ability to browse insurance plans without first creating a website account, which is a key reason for the long delays — a decision seen as a strategic call to help sell Obamacare.

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