Sebelius Says Americans Should ‘Come Back’ To HealthCare.gov

Top health care official said performance of website now 'night and day compared to where we were back in October'

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MICHAEL REYNOLDS / EPA

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appears before the House House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, Dec. 11, 2013.

The Obama administration’s top health care official had a message Wednesday for Americans who were frustrated when they tried to sign up for insurance through new online exchanges, only to find the website maddeningly unworkable: “Come back.”

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said the performance of HealthCare.gov, the federal site running exchanges that are key to President Barack Obama’s signature health reform law, is now “night and day compared to where we were back in October.”

“To those who have been frustrated with the experience so far, we are asking you to come back,” Sebelius said at a House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee meeting.

Her latest appearance before lawmakers comes as the administration is looking to turn the page on the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Earlier on Wednesday, officials released data showing a significant uptick in the pace of enrollment through the online exchanges, and Sebelius formally asked an inspector general to probe what went wrong with a website that turned into a political embarrassment for President Barack Obama.

Republicans said the administration is painting an overly-rosy picture of the improvements of HealthCare.gov, and of the law in general.

“Every major promise the administration made about the ACA… has proven to be wrong,” Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Joe Pitts said.

“Far too many Americans who are happy and satisfied with their health care coverage… have had their world turned upside down,” Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton said.

Pitts pressed Sebelius to specify if the hundreds of thousands of Americans the administration says have signed up for health insurance on the exchanges have merely selected plans or actually have coverage. Sebelius said their coverage will become active when they pay their first premiums later this month.

“So you can’t guarantee the actual number of constituents who actually have coverage?” Pitts asked.

“Not until they pay,” Sebelius answered, prompting Pitts to ask her to return and testify again in a few weeks.

“I want you to know we are going to want real numbers,” Pitts said.

Democrats, who have been heartened by improvements with the website, gave Sebelius some cover from the Republican-controlled subcommittee.

“I don’t know where their reality is, sometimes I question if they’re living on earth,” New Jersey Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone said. “This whole idea we hear from Republicans that the world has turned upside down, it’s just the opposite.”

9 comments
ScottTinaMaring
ScottTinaMaring

The ACA is nothing but a bad government joke. I signed up for an account on the first day and haven't been able to log in yet. I have called the 800 number and talked with representatives there who told me how busy the site was. They said they would send a paper application and I could get the same thing done the old fashioned way. It's been two months and the paper application never arrived. While waiting for the paper application I have continued to try to get online in case it improves but the result is always the same, "an error has occurred ". I talked with the help line again and was told to change my user name, which I did, only to get the same result. The next time I called they said try changing my password, would it surprise you if I said the results were the same? One of the other times I called the 800 number I was told there might have been a mistake the first time someone said they would send the paper application and that it would be scheduled to be sent again, and this time they would make sure it was sent. It's been close to a month since then and nothing. The federal government is incompetent.

ThomasHall
ThomasHall

The GOP are putting all their hopes on killing the ACA by spending over $400 million in anti-ACA propaganda, 36 GOP-led states have chosen not to set up exchanges though they always claim that states can do better and 25 red states mostly those with the poorest and least insurer like Texas have chosen to keep their poorest from being included under Medicaid. As usual, the GOP put partisan politics ahead of the country. Nothing patriotic about that. 

How desperate the GOP are to get something they can use against Pres. Obama. So far despite they wailing, inflated "scandals" they have nothing. Compared to Nixon, Reagan, GHW Bush and GW Bush, all of which could have been impeached for illegal acts, lying under oath, obstruction of justice, etc., the Obama Administration has been squeaky clean. Poor, babies!

aztecian
aztecian

did foKKKs news pay you to post this garbage???

aztecian
aztecian

amazing 400 million.  we could use those funds for much better things.  this is a waste of our resources. 

FlowerJasmin
FlowerJasmin

Yes, the bottom line is simple math--divide by more people signed up and you can claim that ACA is saving money. The difference is that any insurance is risk assessment; you are older-you pay more, you have pool in your house-you pay more, you have accidents with your car you pay more. With this law there is no risk assessment which means nobody knows the future costs. I have seen a few times the projected estimates over projected estimates which prove that they were wrong in their first estimate. Also, since it will be government controlled they will be moving the money around and claiming whatever they need to claim. For example some costs like already the 4 billion spent on setting up the state websites and programs are not calculated. 

  

ThomasHall
ThomasHall

@aztecian Throw in $24 BILLION cost to America from the GOP government shutdown to kill the ACA or the trillions lost to investors during the 2011 GOP baggy manufactured debt ceiling crisis which the GOP only notice when Pres. Obama is in the White House having raised it 18 times under Reagan, 9 nines under GHW Bush and 7 times under GW Bush.

FlowerJasmin
FlowerJasmin

Thomas and aztecian --I feel the love is in the air. While you are petting each other please tell us more what we don't know.

aztecian
aztecian

24 billion!  that is the size of some economies.  gop is responsible for so many crimes there is not enough white space to list them.