Testifying before the House Ways & Means Committee on Friday, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress that the federally-facilitated health care Exchanges will meet their October 1 deadline to be open to the public.

All Exchanges are required to be operational beginning October 1, 2013, a scant five months away, and accepting applicants by January 1, 2014.  Concerns over the federal government needing to partially or fully run 33 state Exchanges, plus cuts in funding, have prompted concerns that the Exchange deadlines will have to be delayed.  In her testimony, Sebelius praised her staff for working to keep on deadline and for making the most of the limited funds available to build the Exchanges.  Despite requesting an additional $1.5 billion in the president’s budget, no new money is expected to be made available this year to help get the Exchanges up and running.

Also on Friday, six members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to HHS asking for more details on the Navigator program.  The letter asks for details on how many Navigators HHS plans to fund for the federally-facilitated Exchanges (noting the law requires at least two in every Exchange) and how they will (or, in the case of insurance companies, not) be chosen.