Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday that President Barack Obama was unaware of the technical problems that have beset that Affordable Care Act’s health exchange website prior to its Oct. 1 launch.
The embattled HHS chief told CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta that she was “optimistic that things would go smoothly” and said that the enrollment period is still in the early stages.
“We have a six-month open enrollment period and I am confident that millions of Americans at the end of open enrollment, March 31, will have affordable coverage for the first time in their lives,” she said.
Gupta asked Sebelius, who has faced calls for her firing from a growing number of Republicans, when Obama was first aware of the website’s problems.
“Well, I think it became clear fairly early on, the first couple of days that —” Sebelius said.
“So not before that though?” Gupta asked. “Not before Oct. 1? There was no concern at that point in the White House or at HHS?”
Sebelius confirmed that Obama learned of the bugs after the launch.
“I think we talked about having testing going forward and if we had an ideal situation and could have built a product in a five-year period of time we probably would have taken five years, but we didn’t have five years and certainly Americans who rely on health coverage didn’t have five years for us to wait,” she said. “We wanted to make sure we made good on this final implementation of the law.”