Kathleen Sebelius' interview with Jon Stewart on Monday night's "Daily Show"
might have done more to damage Obamacare's image than Republican speeches on the Senate floor or House tactics to delay the plan's implementation.
Stewart began the segment with a joke, challenging the Health and Human Services Secretary to an online race. He would download every movie ever made on his laptop while she would attempt to sign up for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on its website. Who will finish first?
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The jab was a reference to the glitches on the Obamacare website during last week's launch
, forcing it to temporarily shut down for repairs over the weekend.
In the 12-minute segment, Stewart repeatedly asked Sebelius why the individual mandate to buy insurance isn't delayed for a year, while employers have a one-year delay, a criticism often raised by Republicans.
"If I'm an individual that doesn’t want this, it would be hard for me to look at a big business getting a waiver and not having to do it," Stewart said. "I would feel like you are favoring big business because they lobbied you, but you’re not allowing individuals that same courtesy."
Sebelius responded by saying the majority of big businesses already provide insurance, to which Stewart countered, "But 85 percent of people are [as well], yes?"
Sebelius then shifted the conversation to focus on the fact that small companies, who employ less than 50 individuals, are not required to provide insurance.
When Stewart pressed her further and asked if she thought the criticism was legitimate, Sebelius dodged the question.
"Well nothing that helps an individual get health insurance has been delayed at all," she replied.
Stewart later responded to Sebelius' promotion of Obamacare by asking, "But there are people that will end up in difficult times having to spend money they would not have spent, yes, to buy health care if they did not have it?"
She responded, "There are people, yes, that will pay money, and many of them will pay less than they pay for their cable bill, or cell phone bill a month."
Stewart also asked Sebelius how many people have signed up under state exchanges, considering that many of the glitches last week were attributed to the large number of people logging onto the website.
"Fully enrolled? I can't tell you because I don't know," Sebelius replied. "I can tell you we've had not only lots of Web hits, hundreds of thousands of accounts created. We have lots of interest."
"So it's been hundreds of thousands of people have signed up?" Stewart asked.
"Of accounts created, which means that then they're going to go shopping," Sebelius answered, subsequently comparing the Affordable Care Act website to a travel site that allows people to schedule their vacation.
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