U.S. health secretary says insurance Web site problems "unacceptable"
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday called the problems with the Web site via which the public can access information on new medical insurance programs "unacceptable" in testimony before a House committee.
"The initial consumer experience of HealthCare.gov has not lived up to the expectations of the American people and is not acceptable," Sebelius said before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "We are committed to fixing these problems as soon as possible."
Sebelius faced a multitude of questions from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers about the launching of the Affordable Care Act, which went into effect on Oct. 1, although the government Web site where the public can shop for required health insurance keeps crashing, ostensibly due to receiving too many hits at once.
Sebelius said that she knows that the Web site experience "has been frustrating for many Americans" but added that the government and the contracting firms it hired to prepare the rollout of the insurance marketplace are working hard to fix the problems.
The secretary told lawmakers that the government has spent about $118 million on the Web site and another $56 million on computer support for the site.
Since Oct. 1, Sebelius said, the Web site had received more than 20 million visits, which she claimed confirms that Americans are seeking quality and affordable healthcare coverage.
Her appearance on Wednesday before Congress is just the first time Sebelius, whose resignation has been called for by some Republicans, will testify before legislators.
She said that she was certain that the problems at the HealthCare.gov Web site will be resolved by Nov. 30, the date set by the government for the site to be fully operational.
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