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Kathleen Sebelius: Administration 'Forthright' on Obamacare

Image: Kathleen Sebelius: Administration 'Forthright' on Obamacare
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By    |   Monday, 24 Nov 2014 10:23 PM

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declared Monday that the Obama administration has been "forthright with the American public" about Obamacare.

Sebelius, who admitted that the rollout of the healthcare.gov website was "disastrous" and "really miserable" – nonetheless called President Barack Obama's healthcare law a "great legacy" and "something I'm really proud of."

"We were very forthright with the American public — I think members of Congress who wrote this legislation were very forthright," Sebelius said in an interview with CNN, the Washington Times reports.

But Sebelius herself has come under fire from critics who say she has been less than forthright about the myriad problems that have plagued the program.

In February, for example, she denied that the administration ever had a 7 million enrollment target for Obamacare.

"First of all, 7 million was not the administration [target]. That was a CBO, Congressional Budget Office, prediction when the bill was first signed," Sebelius told HuffPost Live.

"I'm not quite sure where they even got their numbers," she continued. "Their numbers are all over the board, and the vice president has looked and said it may be closer to 5 to 6."

The comments appear to contradict what Sebelius told NBC News the day before the launch of the troubled healthcare site. In a Sept. 30, 2013, interview with that network, Sebelius said that in her opinion, "success" would be having 7 million Americans enrolled in the Obamacare exchanges by the end of March.

In her CNN interview, Sebelius said that "by the time we got to October of this year, about 6.7 million of those folks have new coverage and governors [in] red and blue states expanded Medicaid. That's a great legacy and I'm really proud of that."

The Department of Health and Human Services initially said there were about 7.1 million people who had gained health coverage under Obamacare. But it was forced to revise that figure downward to 6.7 million after Bloomberg reported that administration officials erroneously added 380,000 dental subscribers to bring the number above 7 million – the administration's target number.

HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell called the inclusion of dental plans "unacceptable" and a "mistake we made." She was referring to the fact that medical and dental plans have been calculated separately in the past and that, in combining the two, HHS officials had broken from previous practice without providing notice.

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa – whose committee investigators brought the error to light – alleged that administration officials had tried to deceive the public.

"After touting 8 million initial sign-ups for medical plans, four months later they engaged in a concerted effort to obscure a heavy drop-out rate of perhaps a million or more enrollees by quietly adding in dental plan sign-ups to exchange numbers," the California Republican said.

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Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declared Monday that the Obama administration has been "forthright with the American public" about Obamacare.
Kathleen Sebelius, forthright, Obamacare, public
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2014-23-24
Monday, 24 Nov 2014 10:23 PM
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