HHS Secretary claims responsibility for ACA website troubles

Sebelius: 'Hold Me Accountable' for Website 'Debacle'
Sebelius: 'Hold Me Accountable' for Website 'Debacle'

(HealthDay News) -- U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday claimed responsibility for the failed rollout of HealthCare.gov and committed to fixing the website's many software and system problems.

"I am as frustrated and angry as anyone with the flawed launch of HealthCare.gov," Sebelius testified before the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee. "So let me say directly to these Americans: You deserve better; I apologize. I'm accountable to you for fixing these problems."

The federal website is the entry point for millions of Americans in 36 states to enroll in health insurance plans that take effect in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. People in 14 states and the District of Columbia may enroll through state-based health insurance exchanges, or marketplaces. But since Day One, consumers attempting to access HealthCare.gov have experienced long wait times, timeouts, and error messages, making it difficult to enroll for health care coverage online.

Along with the website foul-up, many committee members grilled the secretary on another issue: recent cancellations of individual health insurance policies. Republican members told stories of constituents receiving cancellation notices from their insurers. "We know that in the individual market, a number of the plans being sold are not 'grandfathered' and are not currently meeting the (health reform) law," Sebelius acknowledged. Historically, people with individual insurance policies could be "locked out, priced out, dumped out" of their coverage. But new protections under the Affordable Care Act will prevent such abuses, she said.

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