WASHINGTON -- Eager to cast blame, lawmakers were preparing to grill President Barack Obama's top health official over problems with the rollout of the government's health care website.
A growing number of Republicans in Congress are calling for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to step down or be fired because of problems consumers are having signing up for insurance coverage on the government's new website.
Today, Sebelius heads to Capitol Hill to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, her first appearance before Congress since state-based health exchanges opened for business on Oct. 1.
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Senate Health Committee, on Tuesday joined the list of GOP lawmakers calling for Sebelius to go.
"Taxpayers have spent $400 million to create exchanges that, after 31⁄2 years, still don't work," Alexander said. "No private-sector chief executive officer would escape accountability after such a poor performance."
Sebelius was likely to face questions about problems with the website as well as a wave of cancellation notices hitting small businesses and individuals who buy their own insurance. Lawmakers also want to know how many people have enrolled in plans through the health exchanges, a number the Obama administration has so far refused to divulge.
On Tuesday, Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner was questioned for nearly three hours by members of the House Ways and Means Committee who wanted to know why so many of their constituents were getting cancellation notices from their insurance companies.
Could go to Supreme Court: The court battle between two girls and their Pennsylvania school over "I (heart) Boobies!" bracelets could be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Easton, Pa., Area School District board voted 7-1 Tuesday night to appeal a federal appeals court's decision that rejected its claim the bracelets are lewd and should be banned from school. The case started in 2010 when two girls, Brianna Hawk and Kayla Martinez, then ages 12 and 13, challenged the school's ban on the bracelets designed to promote breast cancer awareness among young people. In August, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's decision in favor of the girls, saying also that the district didn't prove the bracelets are disruptive.
Jackson reports to federal prison: Former Illinois U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. entered a North Carolina prison Tuesday to begin serving a 21⁄2-year term for illegally spending $750,000 in campaign money on everything from cigars to a gold watch -- a day after he tried but failed to get into the federal complex. In an odd twist to Jackson's long-running legal saga, the 48-year-old had sought to enter the Butner Correctional Center Monday but was turned away because of "a snafu," C.K. Hoffler, an Atlanta-based attorney who had accompanied the Chicago Democrat, told reporters Tuesday evening.
Fed expected to maintain pace: Renewed questions about the economy's health and uncertainty surrounding the government's budget fight will likely lead the Federal Reserve day to maintain the pace of the stimulus it's supplying to the economy. That expectation marks a reversal from just six weeks ago, when almost everyone expected the Fed to start trimming its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases. The bond buying is intended to keep long-term interest rates low to help the economy rebound from the Great Recession. The Fed is to announce its decision in a statement after a two-day policy meeting.
UN confirms 10 polio cases: The UN's health agency said Tuesday it has confirmed 10 polio cases in northeast Syria, the first confirmed outbreak of the diseases in the country in 14 years, with a risk of spreading across the region. Officials are awaiting lab results on another 12 cases showing polio symptoms, said World Health Organization spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer. Rosenbauer said the confirmed cases are among babies and toddlers, all under 2, who were "under-immunized."