Subjected to sharp criticism about the website “debacle” for ObamaCare today, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologized to Americans for the dysfunction.
The Reuters video captured the exchange between Sebelius and Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee over who to blame. The Secretary offered this:
“I am as frustrated and angry as anyone with the flawed launch of healthcare.gov. So let me say directly to these Americans, ‘You deserve better. I apologize. I am accountable to you for fixing these problems.'”
Sebelius added a promise to some Americans, “the vast majority of users”:
“And by the end of November, we are committed that the vast majority of users will be able to review their options, shop for plans, and enroll in coverage without the problems way too many have been experiencing.”
Credit given to Sebelius
As political commentator/physician Charles Krauthamer put it, on The Hugh Hewitt Show (see clip at Mediaite ), Sebelius “said what she had to.” He stated:
“To her credit … she wasn’t holding a lot of cards. I mean, I was just thinking about it this morning. What is there to say? You’ve just presided over the biggest debacle in, sort of, uh liberal, administrative history. You’re into it for several weeks. You have no way out. You’re now getting reports that people are losing – people perfectly happy with their current policies – are having them cancelled out of the blue, because of a regulation in Obamacare that they hadn’t told you about. I mean, what in God’s name can you say?”
The hearing grew quite testy at times, according to the account from the USAToday, and mentioned Sebelius was “subjected to sharp, partisan grilling from lawmakers who asked her about technology, website security, the law’s mandate that people obtain insurance, and a host of other issues.”
During the testimony on Wednesday, the article also states that the website displayed the same message all day: “The system is down at the moment.” Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid quoted in the story, said server problems at the site’s host, Verizon, was the reason that the government website was down.
The report from Politico news yesterday included this observation:
“Sebelius’s eight pages of prepared testimony for the House Energy and Commerce Committee matches nearly word-for-word testimony delivered by CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to Ways and Means on Tuesday.”
(Tavenner’s 8 pages are here, and Sebelius’ 8 pages are here.)
Tavenner, according to the WashingtonPost, in late September predicted that the Affordable Care Act would have a smooth launch on Oct. 1.