House hearings: Sebelius's mea culpa, Oz and Chicken Little

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During testimony today, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promised that glitches preventing most people from shopping for coverage on the would be resolved by the end of November, and offered some steps the government is taking to fix flaws in the portal, which Republicans have used as a touchstone for their dislike of the Affordable Care Act.

But perhaps what's drawn the most attention from the press corps was her response during a fiery exchange with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who grilled Sebelius as to who is “responsible for this debacle.” Replied Sebelius, “Hold me accountable.”

As noted, that was a departure from Sebelius's prepared remarks, which included no such mea culpa. It followed a similar apology given by CMS head Marilyn Tavenner in front of Ways and Means the day prior.

Lack of beta testing and technical snafus weren't the only thing she took heat for. Lawmakers also questioned Sebelius as to why millions of Americans are losing plans on the individual market when the President assured the public that they could keep their coverage. (Those who bought their own coverage before the law was signed can indeed keep it, she said, referring to a technicality in the law allowing them to be “grandfathered.”)

Dems countered GOP jabs like that of Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), “Madam Secretary, while you're from Kansas, we're not in Kansas anymore. Some might say that we are actually in the Wizard of Oz land,” with clichés of their own, like Rep. Frank Pallone's (D-NJ) assertion that his colleagues on the other side of the aisle were acting like Chicken Little, except that, “my Republican colleagues are actually rooting for the sky to fall.”

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