Medicare Chief Apologizes For Insurance Website Problems

WASHINGTON (October 29, 2013) Marilyn Tavenner, the head of the Medicare program, apologized Tuesday for the problems that have kept Americans from successfully signing up for coverage at the government's health care website.

Tavenner told a House panel Tuesday that "the website has not worked as well as it should."

Tavenner is the first senior official to answer questions publicly from lawmakers.

She's was grilled not only about what went wrong with, but also about whether lawmakers can rely on promises to have things running efficiently by the end of November.

The Medicare chief told lawmakers that improvements are happening daily, but wouldn't provide current enrollment numbers, saying repeatedly that they won't be available until mid-November.

Her appearance followed last week's testimony from outside contractors who said there hadn't been enough time to test the complex online enrollment system, which froze up on Oct. 1, the day it was launched.

U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., who heads the House Ways and Means Committee, asked whether it's fair for the IRS to impose penalties on those who don't sign up for health care, if people "can't navigate" what he calls a "dysfunctional and overly complex system."

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