Sebelius on Exchange Website: 'Delay Is Not an Option'
'A couple of hundred' fixes required, she tells Senate committee
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 6 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday that the Obama administration will not consider delaying implementation of health reform. Nor will it take down HealthCare.gov -- the troubled health insurance marketplace website -- while it's being fixed. "For millions of Americans, delay is not an option," Sebelius told the Senate Finance Committee during a hearing on the new health insurance marketplace. "People's lives depend on this," she said.
Sebelius was called before the committee to respond to questions about the health-reform law's rocky implementation, including problems with the HealthCare.gov website. The site is intended to serve as a portal to allow millions of uninsured Americans to sign up for coverage.
During questioning, Sebelius said that a team of public- and private-sector experts given the task of fixing the website was working through a "punch list" of "a couple of hundred functional fixes." Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), one of the chief backers of the controversial health-reform law known as the Affordable Care Act, expressed disappointment in the administration's failure to "see the problems coming" prior to the Oct. 1 launch of the website. He asked Sebelius point blank: "Why not shut it down and do it right?"
Sebelius said her team has advised her that HealthCare.gov is fixable. And given that the repairs are taking place in batches, "you don't gain much from just taking the whole system down," she said.