Tony Trenkle, CMS CIO, steps down for 'private sector'
WASHINGTON (WJLA) - A key figure in the development of the troubled Obamacare website has resigned.
Tony Trenkle, the CIO for the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, is stepping down, the agency says, to take a job in the private sector. The White House, meanwhile, continues to defend the healthcare overhaul.
It's unknown whether Trenkle was pushed out or left on his own, but that will hardly be enough to satisfy some members of Congress who pushed again for Kathleen Sebelius to also step down.
“You said Americans should hold you accountable, which is why today, madam secretary, I repeat my call for you to resign,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, (R) Kansas.
Becoming a proverbial punching bag for Republicans on Capitol Hill, Sebelius again spent Wednesday defending the program after yet another admission that the roll-out has been a mess.
“There is no excuse for what has been a miserable five weeks,” she said.
“We know that lying to Congress is a crime. Unfortunately, lying to people is not,” says Sen. John Cornyn, (R) Texas.
Cornyn is referring to the ubiquitous promise that if you want to keep your current plan or doctor, you can. But millions are reportedly finding out that’s not the case, like 64-year-old Dave Bowen of Culpeper.
“Oh, it was a lie! Said we could keep it and we can’t, that’s a lie,” he says.
The mostly retired small businessman says his $300 a month plan, now being canceled, will cost $500 a month to adequately replace. He’ll go without coverage until he’s eligible for Medicare in a year.
“The other thing I’m just so mad about is the lying. I mean, who do you trust if they lie to you?”
“This is a dishonest mistake. This is dishonesty,” says Sen. John Thune, (R) South Dakota. “You’ve been misleading the American people and the president has over and over and over again. I’d much rather you just come out and say ‘yeah, we were wrong.’”
Meanwhile, another concern emerged. Senators fumed over revelations the so-called “navigators,” those hired by states to help walk enrollees through the process and being praised by the president, are not required to undergo background checks despite dealing with peoples’ personal information.
There are two subpoenas by Congress demanding more information about the roll-out and next week the first batch of enrollment numbers are to be released for the first month. Sebelius admitted Wednesday, trying to temper expectations, that they will be “very low.”