Sebelius Apologizes for Health Site’s Malfunctions

10/30/13
 
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from The New York Times,
10/30/13:

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, apologized Wednesday for the frustration that millions of Americans have experienced while trying to shop for insurance on the HealthCare.gov website, even as she defended the problem-plagued rollout of President Obama’s health care law and tried to explain the cancellation of hundreds of thousands of individual insurance policies.

Ms. Sebelius, fighting for her political life at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said she was “as frustrated and angry as anyone with the flawed launch of HealthCare.gov.”

Ms. Sebelius said she was ultimately responsible for “this debacle,” including the website’s problems. But she said that a government contractor, Verizon’s Terremark unit, was responsible for outages that disrupted the website on Sunday and again on Tuesday.

Representative Fred Upton, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the committee … said: “There are millions of Americans coast to coast who no doubt believed the president’s repeated promise that if they liked their plan, they’d be able to keep it. They are now receiving termination notices.”

Ms. Sebelius said the cancellation of some individual policies was a justifiable byproduct of the 2010 health care law. These policies will be replaced, she said, with new policies that provide better benefits and more consumer protections, often at similar or lower prices.

People in the individual market have never had consumer protections, Ms. Sebelius said, adding, “They can be locked out, priced out, dumped out.”

However, in recent weeks, many consumers have received cancellation notices offering new policies at prices much higher than what they have been paying.

Ms. Sebelius minimized the significance of recent changes in individual insurance policies, which have shocked many consumers.

Ms. Sebelius acknowledged that comprehensive testing of the website, which began in mid-September, was inadequate.

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