President Barack Obama wasn't informed of the problems plaguing the HealthCare.gov website before its Oct. 1 launch, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told CNN Tuesday.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, was the first reporter to talk to Sebelius since she appeared on "The Daily Show"
two weeks ago.
Sebelius told Gupta in a White House interview that Obama became aware of the problems only a few days after the website's launch. The interview aired on "Anderson Cooper 360."
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HealthCare.gov was promised to be a one-stop online shopping experience for people who don't get health insurance through their jobs.
People trying to sign up were greeted with screens telling them to try again later.
The system was tested less than a week before it went live, and Gupta said it crashed during the test even though only a few hundred people were trying to log in.
The White House has said that up to 70 million Americans are expected to need the site to sign up for health insurance, which is legally required under Obamacare.
Sebelius assured Gupta that HHS is bringing in "the A-team" from each of its contractors to fix the site's multiple problems, which include inaccurate customer information
such as listing a spouse as a child.
Gupta asked why the A-team was not brought in during development rather than three weeks into launch.
"I can't tell you why," Sebelius responded. "We had hoped that they had their A-team on the table, but I am talking with CEOs and urging them to make sure that we have the talent available."
As a result of the problems, some Republicans have been calling for Sebelius' resignation
Gupta asked Sebelius three times whether she would consider quitting or whether Obama had asked her to do so. Shes dodged the issue each time.
"This is the most important work I've ever done in my life — delivering on an historic act, making sure that we have health security for the millions of Americans," she said. "I think my job is to get this fully implemented and to get the website working right ... I work at the pleasure of the president."
She also wouldn't answer Gupta's question on whether the individual mandate would be delayed since people who are legally required to buy insurance are having trouble getting into the system.
Likewise, she refused to give numbers of how many people have signed up. The government will provide monthly figures just like all its other programs, she said.
She stressed that the website is just one way to buy health insurance through the program. People also can call a toll-free phone line or talk in person to "navigators" who can help them fill out a paper application.
The website, she said, is a tool for people who are "tech savvy," and HHS never anticipated that everyone would want to use website.
Sean Hannity called the phone line on Monday
and Tuesday, but was told by operators that they could help him only after he had created an account on the website.
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