Sebelius says Obamacare site problems ‘fixable,’ defends overall law

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WASHINGTON – Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday apologized that the new healthcare website has been a “miserably frustrating experience for way too many Americans” and told a congressional panel she was accountable for the failings while promising they were “fixable.”

“Problems are being solved. But we know that we don’t have a fully functioning system that consumers need and deserve,” she said. “We’re still at the beginning of a six-month open enrollment which extends through the end of March. And there’s plenty of time to sign up.”

Even as Sebelius said she was as “frustrated and angry as anyone” with the flawed launch of the online marketplaces, she defended President Obama’s healthcare law, saying that “by any fair measure” it was “working for millions of Americans.” She also said she would not support delaying a penalty for Americans who do not have health insurance, as many lawmakers, including Democrats, have called for.


“Millions of Americans are clearly eager to learn about their options and to finally achieve healthcare security made possible by the Affordable Care Act. And my commitment is to deliver on that promise,” she said.

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Sebelius’ much-anticipated testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee comes as Republican critics of the law have sought to expand their focus beyond technical glitches that have marred the healthcare rollout to include problems that some consumers are facing as insurance companies cancel some policies that fail to meet coverage required by the 2010 law.

“There are also millions of Americans coast to coast who no doubt believed the president’s repeated promises that if they liked their plan that they would be able to keep it, no matter what. They are now receiving termination notices. And for those who lose their coverage, they may be losing their faith in their government,” committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said.

While Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill, Obama planned to travel Wednesday to Boston to promote the law. In historic Faneuil Hall, where former Gov. Mitt Romney signed into law the Massachusetts plan that served as a model for Obama’s national health law, Obama will talk about the state’s experience in its first year of enrollment while pointing to its overall success seven years later.

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