In perhaps a preview of her testimony to a House committee next week, Secretary of Human and Health Services Kathleen Sebelius was
grilled Tuesday night by CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Guptain a wide-ranging interview on the
disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov.
Sebelius told Gupta that President Barack Obama was unaware of the problems with the site until a few days after its launch. Customers have had trouble purchasing insurance through the website since it went live on Oct. 1, due to numerous technical issues and glitches.
The Obama administration has brought in outside experts in a “tech surge” to help remedy the problem — including Jeff Zients, the former acting head of the Office of Management and Budget.
“Right now, we’ve asked all of our contractors to look at their teams on the ground and bring in their absolute A team,” Sebelius said. “And I am confident that that is happening every day.”
“Why didn’t they bring their A team in in the first place?” Gupta shot back.
“We have hoped that they had their A team on the table, but I am talking to CEOs and urging them to make sure that we have the talent that they have available,” Sebelius said. “I think all of them have folks who are assigned to a project.”
Sebelius still put some of the blame on the volume of people who are visiting the website. She also made a curious statement that seemed to suggest that the Obama administration doesn’t view the website as the main tool for customers to purchase insurance.
“I think that the reality is that people, as I just said, can sign up any of three ways,” she said.
“Does that mean the Web site’s not that important then?” Gupta said.
“It is a — it is certainly a tool, and we think it can be an easy tool for people who are tech-savvy and want to use a Web site. And we’re determined that it be a lot easier than it is right now,” Sebelius said.
“What I know, though, is that lots of people, and people I talk to everyday, are not tech-savvy. Want a live human being to sit and answer questions. Want to talk to someone over the phone, want to talk to their friends and neighbours about what health care providers in their network, and then go back and ask them questions.
“So, we anticipated at the outset that everyone would never use the Web site. That needs to be part of the opportunity. The market is at the end of the day what it is. This isn’t a Web site. It’s about health care and about affordable plans.”
Multiple Republicans have called for Sebelius’ firing over the horrid rollout of the website — the latest being Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The White House has continued to say it has confidence in Sebelius. And she said Tuesday night that she has no plans to resign.
Here’s a clip of her interview on CNN:
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