News Column

10 Takeaways From Kathleen Sebelius' Testimony

October 31, 2013

Susan Ferrechio, The Examiner

healthcare.gov
Kathleen Sebelius offered some insight into the Healthcare.gov website Wednesday.


- What crash? The healthcare.gov website has never crashed, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress Wednesday. "It is functional, but at a very slow speed and very low reliability, and has continued to function," she said.

- The buck stops with Sebelius. President Obama was unaware of the massive problems with the new health insurance website's pre- launch. "I told the president that we were ready to go," Sebelius said. "I am responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act."

- Just give us a few weeks. Healthcare.gov is "fixable," according to Sebelius, and a new team of experts has been assembled to make the repairs by Nov. 30

- Participation is a mystery. The number of people who enrolled through the insurance exchanges is still unavailable, but it will be provided by Sebelius in mid-November. "We do not have reliable enrollment data," Sebelius said.

- Obamacare is not for Obama staff. Sebelius said she can't enroll in the new health care exchanges because her health care is provided by the federal government. "It's illegal. If I have available employer-based coverage, I am not eligible for the market."

- No extension. Despite the website glitches (healthcare.gov was down for the duration of Wednesday's hearing), Sebelius said she will not extend the enrollment period beyond March 31. "It's important for the insurance partners to know who is in their pool so they can stay in the market next year and know who they're insuring," Sebelius said.

- Obama has kept his promise that people can keep their health insurance under the new health care law, Sebelius said. "People will have ongoing coverage," Sebelius said. "They will be offered new plans" that are more comprehensive than their existing plans.

- The health insurance industry is responsible for the cancellation of health insurance policies, not the new health care law. "Insurance companies cancel individual policies year in and year out," Sebelius said. "They're a one-year contract with individuals. They are not lifetime plans."

- Expect privacy protection. Sebelius said healthcare.gov contains an erroneous warning posted by a contractor that those who apply should have no expectation of privacy. "We have asked them to remove the statement," Sebelius said. "We should be held accountable for protecting privacy."

- Big price tag so far. Sebelius said the federal government has spent $118 million on heathcare.gov plus an additional $56 million on "other IT" to support the web.

(c) 2013 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

Original headline: Ten takeaways from Kathleen Sebelius' testimony


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Source: (c) 2013 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.


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