Sebelius apologizes for ObamaCare site failures during Hill hearing

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius personally apologized Wednesday for the failures of the ObamaCare website, saying during a Capitol Hill hearing that the American people “deserve better.”
“Access to HealthCare.gov has been a miserably frustrating experience for way too many Americans,” Sebelius said, vowing to fix the problems.
To the American people, she said, “You deserve better. I apologize. I’m accountable to you for fixing these problems.”
The secretary was facing some of her biggest critics Wednesday as she testified for the first time on the troubled ObamaCare rollout — amid mounting calls for her resignation.
“The news seems to get worse by the day,” Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said at the start of the hearing before his committee.
Not only is the secretary facing questions about the glitch-ridden exchange website, but the administration as a whole is being challenged as consumers on the individual market receive a wave of cancellation notices.
The notices sharply conflict with Obama’s repeated pledges that those who like their plans can keep them.
Sebelius’ appearance is her first before Congress since the troubled launch of the exchange websites on Oct. 1.
Sebelius was testifying after the website’s data hub experienced another outage on Tuesday. On Sunday, a similar outage at a Verizon Terremark data center brought the website down, even as White House officials claimed the website was up and running.
In written testimony released ahead of Wednesday’s hearing, Sebelius vowed to improve the website and said the consumer experience to date is “not acceptable.” But she defended the law itself and said extensive work and testing is being done.
“We are working to ensure consumers’ interaction with HealthCare.gov is a positive one, and that the Affordable Care Act fully delivers on its promise,” she said in the prepared remarks.
Sebelius blamed the website contractors and the “initial wave of interest” for the glitches, but expressed confidence in the experts and specialists working to solve “complex technical issues.”
“By enlisting additional technical help, aggressively monitoring errors, testing to prevent new issues from cropping up, and regularly deploying fixes to the site, we are working to ensure consumers’ interaction with HealthCare.gov is a positive one, and that the Affordable Care Act fully delivers on its promise,” she said.
But Sebelius was also facing mounting pressure from high-ranking Republicans to resign. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., top Republican on the Senate health panel, was the latest to join the call.
“Mr. President, at some point there has to be accountability. Expecting this secretary to be able to fix what she hasn’t been able to fix during the last three-and-a-half years is unrealistic,” he said on the Senate floor on Tuesday. “It’s throwing good money after bad. It’s time for her to resign — someone else to take charge.”
Sebelius is expected to testify again before the Senate Finance Committee on the rollout of ObamaCare, committee chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said in a statement. The hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6.

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