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Sebelius: 'Hold me accountable for the debacle' of Obamacare rollout

At a contentious a Congressional hearing Wednesday, the HHS secretary said that enrollment will be low.

By Money Staff Oct 30, 2013 6:02PM

This post comes from Lauren Fox at partner site U.S. News & World Report.

 

U.S. News & World Report on MSN MoneySecretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius apologized Wednesday for the mounting technical problems with the rollout of the Obamacare health care exchange website.

 

"You deserve better. I apologize. I'm accountable to you for fixing these problems and I'm committed to earning your confidence back by fixing the site," Sebelius said during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing. Adding later, "Hold me accountable for the debacle. I am responsible."

 

Since the healthcare.gov site rolled out on Oct. 1, customers have encountered debilitating frozen web pages, long wait times and inaccurate cost estimates.

Sebelius promised lawmakers Wednesday that the $118 million website's glitches would be fixed and that healthcare.gov would be fully functioning by the end of November.

 

"We are making improvements each and every day," she said.

 

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill on Oct. 30, 2013 (© Evan Vucci/AP Photo)The HHS secretary conceded that the website had not been accurately vetted and tested before it went live, noting that two weeks was not enough time to do the "end-to-end testing" such a complex project required.

 

Since the exchanges opened at the beginning of the month, more than 700,000 people have applied for coverage and 20 million people have visited the site. But the Obama administration has kept the number of customers enrolled in the Affordable Care Act exchange a secret. Wednesday, Sebelius set low expectations, noting the first month's numbers would not be strong.

 

"Given our flawed launch of healthcare.gov it will be a very small number," Sebelius warned.

 

The hearing was scheduled to give Republicans and Democrats a chance to understand the technical obstacles remaining before the health care marketplace could be fully functional, but GOP lawmakers took advantage of the opportunity to air major grievances with Obamacare at large, a law they have voted more than 40 times to repeal.

 

Many Republicans, including Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., accused President Barack Obama of misleading the American public when he promised in 2010 and again during the campaign of 2012 that if Americans liked their health care coverage "they could keep it."

Blackburn told the story of constituents in her district who had received a letter in the mail alerting them that their insurance coverage would be canceled.

 

"What do you say to 300,000 people in Florida you just mentioned or to the 28,000 in Tennessee that cannot get health insurance?" Blackburn said. "Their plans are terminated. Is [the president] keeping his promise to them?"

 

Sebelius pushed back, arguing that insurance companies cancel plans every year and were required under the law to provide alternative plans. Many of the plans being canceled, Sebelius noted, were inefficient and did not cover customers at the levels Obamacare required.

 

"They must be offered new plans, new options, either inside the market marketplace, or if they don't qualify for a financial subsidy, they can shop in or outside of the marketplace," Sebelius said.

 

Blackburn, visibly irritated, shot back "I will remind you: some people like to drive a Ford and not a Ferrari, and some people like to drink out of a red solo cup and not a crystal stem. You're taking away their choice."

 

Republicans also confronted Sebelius about other pressing issues regarding personal security, asking her why source code in the website included a disclaimer that customers should not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

 

Sebelius simply said the code should never have been included and explained it had been embedded in error.

 

Democrats blasted their Republican colleagues for turning the bipartisan hearing a political showdown.

 

"I would urge my colleagues to stop hyperventilating," Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., argued Republicans were not interested at all in actually fixing the problems in the website.

 

"You love what is wrong with the website and you detest what is right," she quipped.

 

More from U.S. News & World Report:

6Comments
Oct 30, 2013 7:05PM
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The liberal democratic mantra, “hold me accountable”, that is so easy to say when there are no consequences to this administrations failures.

Oct 30, 2013 6:46PM
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it's begining to look like a frankenstein monster. how many more injections do they give this as it lies on the table lifeless? what happens on november 30? by some miracle if this monster walks it will create havoc with each day it lives.
Oct 30, 2013 8:08PM
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Nice try Sebellius.  I'm holding Obama accountable.
Oct 30, 2013 6:44PM
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"The buck stops here!"  --- sign on the desk of President Harry Truman, a Democrat

Ahhh . . . better times, better Presidents
Oct 30, 2013 9:33PM
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Wonder what ultimatum she was given or what sort of monetary payout she was promised to be the fall guy (girl, in this case).

Obama and the rest of the politicians are to blame for this. Of course, Obama will NEVER admit to any wrong doing... ever.

Oct 30, 2013 9:43PM
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NOBODY WAS HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR SOYLANDRA, FAST N FURIOUS, IRS, BENGHAZI,

CASH FOR CLUNKERS, GMC BAILOUT, GE NO TAXES GREEN TAXPAYER MONEY JOBS TO

CHINA, EPA NAZI REGULATIONS SHUTTING DOWN CHEAP ENERGY AND SMALL BUSINESS

AND NOW OBAMACARE! NOBODY! LIARS! OBAMA AND ALL DEMONCRATS CAN'T HIDE THIS

IS ALL TO GET SINGLE PAYER GOVT RUN DEATHCARE! FRANK '****' POLLEN FROM

NEW JERSEY JUST LAUGHED AND SAID THE REASON THE INSURANCE ARE DROPPING

SOME 14 MILLION IS CAUSE THE PLANS ARE BAD AND NOBODY IS BUYING THEM????

WHAT THE F??? HE CALLS THIS CAPITALISM? GOVT CAPITALISM RUN BY TAXPAYERS

PAYING FOR IT??? THAT'S NOT CAPITALISM IT'S SOCIALISM! THESE DEMONCRATS ARE

ARROGANT BIG GOVT DICKTATORS BELIEVE THEY OWN AMERICANS NOW AND CAN

TELL US WHAT HEALTHCARE TO US AND JUST SHUT UP AND TAKE IT! **** NO!

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