CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript: Glitches


By:  Marsha Blackburn
Date: Oct. 21, 2013
Location: Unknown


BLITZER: Let's discuss with Republican congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, the vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which will hold hearings later this week, Thursday, on what is going on.

We're just getting word that next week, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, will be appearing before your committee to answer all your questions. I assume you're pleased by that decision?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Well, we certainly would have preferred for her to be there this Thursday. We sent the information to her, the request two weeks ago. We wanted her to come this week. She's got time for Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show," but she doesn't have time to come to those of us who are tasked with overseeing this. And now, finally, I think after catching a whole lot of flack from the American people, she's decided next week would better than this week, and that way she doesn't have to change her plans.

But Wolf, what we're trying to do is figure out what went wrong with this contract. When you've got over a half billion dollars on a no- bid, single-source contract, you've got some problems. Most web developers I have talked to have said you would expect for about a half-million dollars to build this type aggregator Web site and not the exorbitant amount of taxpayer money that went into this. And it has been a colossal failure.

BLITZER: Let's talk about that money. You're saying that the U.S. government, the American taxpayers have already spent $500 million on this Web site alone? Because I've heard various numbers, $200 million, $300 million, $400 million, but you now have confirmed based on the information you have it's $500 million?

BLACKBURN: Right. And when you look at the contract that went out on this and you look at the fact that it went to a Canadian company -- and I think one of the things, Wolf, you have to look at too is the fact that there are coding problems that are embedded in this.

We want to know how did it get so off-track? And Secretary Sebelius, who is tasked with overseeing this, why was she not on top of this? When you talk about this amount of money, you talk about this period of time, it's problematic.

Now, what we are going to hear from this week will be some of the contractors who have worked on this. We think we'll have four contractors in front of us: CGI, Equifax and --

BLITZER: Serco, and Serco.

BLACKBURN: -- and a couple others. Yes, Serco.


BLITZER: CGI is sort of the affiliate of that Canadian company that got the biggest part of this deal.

So, I'll ask you a question I've asked a lot of people. I don't know if you have the answer. Who screwed up here?

BLACKBURN: Well, see, that is what we're wanting to know. And we hope the hearing will help us get to the bottom. Was it negligence? Did they plan for it to fail?


BLITZER: I'm sure they didn't plan for it to fail because they've suffered a great deal. It's humiliating. It's embarrassing the way it's been rolled out, the Web site.

BLACKBURN: Well, I agree with that. But Wolf, why did they not, given the amount of money and time that they had access to, set it up so that you could at least query the site and get through the process?

And people are incredibly frustrated with this. They look at it as being another failure and another broken promise. Health insurance costs are escalating, not going down $2,500 a family as the president had promised us they would. He had promised if you liked what you had, you could keep it. That is not true. We hear from individuals every single day, both here in my district in Tennessee and across the country who are receiving notices that their plans are no longer going to be offered --

BLITZER: But you are pleased, Congresswoman -- excuse me for interrupting -- that people with preexisting conditions who could never afford to buy health insurance, were never eligible for health insurance, are now -- now have eligibility?

BLACKBURN: And I will -- of course. We are pleased that they have access to something we on our side of the aisle would have handled it differently, with some state-based risk pools so that they had the ability to have access to affordable health insurance. And Wolf, that should be the goal of everyone in this process. How do we make certain that everyone has access to affordable health insurance? What we see happening now is that people are being priced out of the health insurance market. And what started as an $863 billion access to health insurance program has become a $2.6 trillion takeover of the healthcare industry, healthcare delivery --

BLITZER: Martha Blackburn, we've got to -- unfortunately, we got to leave it there. We're out of time. We'll continue on another day. Thanks very much.

BLACKBURN: Thank you so much, Wolf. Bye-bye.

That's it for me. Thanks for watching.

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