'Deceiver' Sebelius calls Obamacare Web site 'a miserably frustrating experience for way too many Americans'
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services apologizes for Internet debacle
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has apologized to the American public for the unstable Web site that has blocked users from comparing and enrolling in health insurance plans. She called it "a miserably frustrating experience for way too many Americans."
"I am as frustrated and angry as anyone with the flawed launch of healthcare.gov," Kathleen Sebelius told the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The site crashed for the second time in a week when a data center owned by Verizon went down.
In a bit of damage control, the Obama administration has pledged to fix the site by November 30. Sebelius assures the public that the site has never "crashed," but is functional - just unreliable and slow.
"I know that the only way I can restore confidence to get it right is to get it right," she said. "So I have confidence, but I know it isn't fair to ask the American people to take our word for it. I've got to fix this problem."
Adding insult to injury, there is no reliable data to the number of Americans that have enrolled through the system. A federal health care official told Congress that 700,000 people had submitted applications through the federal and state health insurance marketplaces. Sebelius reminded others that the administration has no "reliable data" for how many have successfully enrolled and that more reliable data will be available by mid-November.
"It will be a very small number," she said. Sebelius cited the benighted launch of the Web site and expected enrollment trends. She referenced what happened when Massachusetts launched its own health care program in 2006.
Above all else are the millions of Americans who have had their health insurance canceled because they do not meet coverage standards set by the new law. Critics say that these cancellations contradict repeated assurances from President Barack Obama that Americans who liked their health plans would be allowed to keep them.
"Some people like to drive a Ford, not a Ferrari, and some people like to drink out of a red Solo cup, not a crystal stem," Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., told Sebelius at the House hearing. "You're taking away their choice."
The Obama administration has said that the cancellations apply only to the five percent of Americans who buy insurance on the individual market, not the 80 percent who are covered by their employers.
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