Facing tough questions from lawmakers Wednesday on Capitol Hill over the failed rollout of the Obamacare website, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologized for delays and frustrations.
"You deserve better. I apologize. I’m accountable to you for fixing these problems," Sebelius said. "Hold me responsible for the debacle."
Before the launch of the Obamacare exchanges on October 1, Sebelius and the Obama administration were warned the website was not ready to go. Regardless, Sebelius continued to tell Congress she was "confident" the exchanges and website would roll out as planned. Under questioning, Sebelius admitted proper testing was not done and products were not ready at the time of the launch.
"We did not adequately do end-to end-testing," Sebelius said. "Access to healthcare.gov has been miserable for millions of Americans."
Despite numerous problems, including serious security breaches of personal health and financial information, Sebelius reassured the country that although the roll out of Obamacare has had major problems, it's "still working for millions of Americans." Sebelius said she does not support shutting down the site in order to do an end-to-end security test.
Millions of Americans around the country have been kicked off of their individual health insurance plans due to Obamacare regulations. President Obama promised repeatedly that if people liked their insurance, they could keep it. At this point, more people have been kicked off their insurance plans than have enrolled successfully in the Obamacare exchanges. Despite multiple requests from Congress, Health and Human Services has refused to reveal exactly how many people have signed up.
"We do not have any reliable data about enrollment," Sebelius said.
Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn pressed Sebelius on the issue of lost coverage and broken promises, asking if President Obama was keeping his word to millions of Americans who are losing their coverage.
"Is Obama keeping his promise?" Blackburn asked.
"Yes he is," Sebelius replied.
Sebelius repeatedly argued Obamacare is not the source of why plans are being cancelled, saying plans have been grandfathered in so long as they haven't been changed since the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010.
"If a plan is in place and was in place when President Obama signed the bill, they are grandfathered in, they can keep it," Sebelius said, adding there were no regulations made to kill grandfathered plans under Obamacare or fault insurance companies for making changes to said plans.
At this point, we've seen reports the federal government has spent as much as $600 million on the Obamacare website. During the hearing, Sebelius was asked to clarify costs.
"We have spent $118 million on the website itself and $56 million has been spent on other IT," Sebelius said.
When asked if she supports a delay in the individual mandate until Obamacare exchange problems could be completely fixed, Sebelius said "no." "
"This is the law, it is no longer up for debate," Sebelius said. "We have a plan in place to fix key outstanding issues."
The Obama administration has promised the Obamacare website will be up and running by the end of November.
Editor's note: This post was updated with a video.