Obamacare: Kathleen Sebelius tours call centers, says work is ongoing to improve websites
PHOENIX (AP) - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday that officials are working "24-7" to improve the government's health insurance website after its clunky rollout.
Sebelius, the Obama administration's public point person on implementation of the new health care law, was in Phoenix amid calls for her resignation over the technical issues that have prevented people from signing up for coverage online.
"The majority of people calling for me to resign I would say are people who I don't work for and do not want this program to work in the first place," Sebelius said during a visit to the Wesley Health Center. "I have had frequent conversations with the president and I've admitted to him that my role is to get the program up and running and we will do just that."
Sebelius toured a Health and Human Services call center and spoke with "navigators" who have been trained to educate people about enrolling for coverage. She said consumers can enroll in-person, by filing paperwork or contacting a call center. The nation's 17 call centers are equipped to answer questions in 150 languages, she said.
While Sebelius was in Phoenix, contractors who helped build the HealthCare.gov website testified in Washington, D.C., in the first congressional hearing on the botched rollout. Representatives of CGI Federal and QSSI, which helped construct, told lawmakers insufficient testing was a factor.
Sebelius said nobody has been fired over the technical glitches and a lot of the problems were caused by a surge in demand.
"It's certainly not perfect but getting better by the day," the former Kansas governor said. "We now have 700,000 applications that have been submitted for health insurance. We intend to make sure those folks get the coverage they need."
She also said an "anonymous shopper" option was up and running for people who want to look at different plans and prices. Much of the website's traffic spike was attributed to people having to register accounts before being able to shop around.
Sebelius also noted that the open-enrollment was only three weeks into its 26-week stretch.
"In football terms, it's early in the first quarter," she said.