November 26, 2013, 02:48 pm
Senate Dems want HealthCare.gov CEO
By Justin Sink
Seven Senate Democrats are calling on President Obama to appoint a permanent "chief executive officer" to oversee the ObamaCare website after the departure of Jeffrey Zients at the end of the year.
In a letter sent to the White House on Tuesday, seven Senate Democrats say the position should report directly to the president and be “empowered with the authority to ensure that healthcare.gov is fixed quickly, completely, and permanently.”
Zients was appointed last month to oversee repairs to the website after a botched rollout plagued by technical glitches prevented many consumers from purchasing coverage through the ObamaCare exchanges. According to a report from Bloomberg, the website czar meets every Thursday with the president, vice president, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to update them on the progress of the repairs.
The former White House budget aide was the one who suggested the administration could get the website in working order by the end of November. But Zients was appointed to become director of the National Economic Council before the president called him in to oversee the website fixes, and he'll move on to that job in the new year.
The letter, from Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Mark Warner (Va.), Chris Coons (Del.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Udall (Colo.) and Tim Kaine (Va.), says that establishing such a position "would go a long way toward earning back the trust jeopardized by last month’s deeply flawed rollout.”
"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 lawmakers added.
White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked last week whether Zients was still on track to take over the National Economic Council in January. Carney said he was but refused to answer questions about whether the president would appoint a successor to oversee the website.
"That’s a good question," Carney said. "I just don’t have a personnel announcement to make."