HHS chief in Phoenix amid calls for her resignation - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports


HHS chief in Phoenix amid calls for her resignation

Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (Source: www.hhs.gov) Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (Source: www.hhs.gov)

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was in Phoenix on Thursday amid calls for her resignation.

The controversy is over the clunky rollout of insurance exchanges under President Barack Obama's health law.

The former Kansas governor is the Obama administration's public point person on the health law's implementation.

Computer problems have kept many consumers from signing up through new online markets.

Sebelius says they're working 24-7 to make the federal website better, nobody has been fired over technical glitches and a lot of the problems were caused by a surge in demand.

She says she doesn't work for the people calling for her to step down.

Sebelius toured a Phoenix HHS call center and spoke with "navigators" who have been trained to educate people about enrolling for coverage.

Sebelius also met with other "community assistors" who have been working to educate people across Arizona about the four ways to register and enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace - by phone, in person, by mail, and online.

Persistent problems with new healthcare exchanges prompted Obama to institute a "tech surge," bringing in leading technology talent to repair the painfully slow and often unresponsive website.

But the administration has repeatedly declined to say how long that will take, raising questions about whether the full extent of the problems has been fully determined.

As the administration races to fix the website, it's deploying the president and top officials to urge his supporters not to give up.

"By now you have probably heard that the website has not worked as smoothly as it was supposed to," Obama said Tuesday in a video message recorded for Organizing for America, a nonprofit group whose mission is to support Obama's agenda. "But we've got people working overtime in a tech surge to boost capacity and address the problems. And we are going to get it fixed."

The group has been organizing a multitude of events and social media campaigns around the healthcare law's implementation. OFA said those efforts will continue, but the group is not adjusting its strategy in response to the website's issues.

Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) released the following statement ahead of Thursday's Phoenix visit from Sebelius:

"Throughout the country there is mass confusion and uncertainty surrounding Obamacare and the online exchange. Secretary Sebelius has a responsibility to step forward and give the American people answers. Instead of appearing before Congress, the Secretary is touring a call center in Phoenix. She should take this time to give everyone the answers they deserve.

"How many people have successfully signed up on healthcare.gov? Why weren't basic best practice guidelines utilized for the opening of the online exchange? How is it possible that after three years and hundreds-of-millions of taxpayer dollars spent, that HHS was caught 'off-guard' by website glitches? How much more will it cost to fix what's wrong?"

Secretary Sebelius was grilled on the healthcare.gov glitches during her visit to Phoenix.

"Right now, we're looking at contractors by and large, fulfilling their contracts so the money that has been spent right now will be used to have them go back to work and make sure the glitches are fixed," Sebelius said.

Although members of Congress have called for Sebelius' resignation or someone to be held responsible for the healthcare.gov hiccups, Sebelius said no one is being fired and they're all working to fix the current problems.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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