Stewart to Sebelius on health care law “Am I a stupid man?”
October 8th, 2013
01:27 AM ET
11 months ago

Stewart to Sebelius on health care law “Am I a stupid man?”

(CNN) - "The Daily Show" took a more serious turn Monday night when host Jon Stewart introduced his guest for the evening, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Sebelius, who has been on a media blitz in recent weeks as the health care exchanges for the Affordable Care Act opened for business on October 1st, has appeared on multiple networks to promote the new law and to attempt to temper criticism of its rollout.

As the secretary sat down to begin the segment, Stewart opened a laptop on his desk. “I’m going to attempt to download every movie ever made, and you’re going to try to sign up for Obamacare, and we’ll see which happens first.”

Sebelius admitted the website rollout “started a little rockier than we’d like,” but said the administration had been working to make improvements. “It’s better today than it was yesterday, and it will keep getting better.”

The sign-up websites were offline for part of the weekend as efforts were made to fix multiple glitches that caused delays for many who attempted to use the program in the first few days.

When asked how many individuals had signed up for insurance so far, Sebelius admitted, “I can’t tell you, because I don’t know ... we will be giving monthly reports.” She added that hundreds of thousands of accounts had been created, which indicated to the administration that those consumers “are going to go shopping” for insurance as the next step.

The segment became more contentious as the Comedy Central host turned to the subject of the individual mandate, specifically the fact that while many businesses were given a one-year delay to comply with the law, individuals were not.

“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," 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 denied that was the case, but danced around answering the question directly, sticking instead to talking points.

After pressing her further on the issue to no avail, a somewhat exasperated Stewart finally smiled and asked, “Am I a stupid man?”

Later, as he threw to commercial, Stewart said he still was “not sure why individuals can’t delay” and asked the secretary if he could keep asking her that same question when they returned.

Later, while addressing the issue of businesses cutting back hours for employees to avoid having to provide health care under the new regulations, Sebelius held firm. “Economists, not anecdotal folks, but economists, say there is absolutely no evidence that part-time work is going up. In fact, it’s going down,” she said. The secretary also said that for the first time ever, part-time employees in the United Sates would now have the option to purchase health insurance under the new law.

Toward the end, Stewart argued that a market-based strategy toward health care is a flawed concept in itself and that a single payer system would have been a more simple approach. But Sebelius jumped in, saying, “if we could have perhaps figured out a pathway, that may have been a reasonable solution.”

“So this is jerry-rigged to deal with the crazy people?” Stewart asked.

“I think the president did not want to dismantle the health care that 85% of the country had," Sebelius responded.


Filed under: Health care • Jon Stewart • Kathleen Sebelius
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Jean

    The community organizer didn't want to dismantle the healthcare that 85% of the country had??? Is this woman living on planet Earth?? Eighty five per cent didn't even WANT Obamacare. The healthcare of 85% of this country is being upended and destroyed for the 1% that weren't insured. Everything is changing for the 85%, herr Sebelius! After full implementation, there will still be 30 million who are uninsured. Anecdotal evidence about people being moved from fulltime to part-time? Ask those who've experienced it if it's anecdotal. This woman is clueless and in denial, just like the administration of the community organizer. They don't care if they hurt real Americans or not, they want control and they want us all to get on a train to socialism, a train that has no off ramps.

    October 8, 2013 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  2. nosuchluck

    Since when has the Executive Branch had the power to change a "law", once it has been forced down our throats?
    Personal experience: I went on line and after about 36 hours of not getting onto the health exchange, I was able to compare my current health insurance plan against the plans offered in my state. My current plan costs $235.00 a month. The almost exact plan with slightly higher out of pocket and copay would be $986.00 for a single person coverage. My sister and her family in another state looked at their difference between current and AHA plans. Current plan was $396.00 and $1463.00 a month for AHA. Someone please explain how "affordable" managed to get in the name of this bill? Please!

    October 8, 2013 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  3. BobStrebs

    ""The secretary also said that for the first time ever, part-time employees in the United Sates would now have the option to purchase health insurance under the new law"" Imagine that. The part-time worker must now for the first time ever, by law, lay out a monthly tax for Unaffordable No Care. Obamacare is stealing food from the tables of the working poor.

    October 8, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  4. 1of10000

    Why does it seem like they are all idiots who couldn't do anything right.... Nancy Pelosi "we'll have to pass the law to, ugh, ugh, ugh, see what's in it"

    October 8, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  5. TJ

    I really think the whole thing should be scrapped. We have learned a ton during this process and can make something so much better and something people can afford.

    October 8, 2013 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  6. Steve

    Once you've lost Stewart, you've lost the war.

    October 8, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  7. CMD

    “I think the president did not want to dismantle the health care that 85% of the country had," Sebelius responded.
    This is *exactly* what Obama did! Amazing.

    October 8, 2013 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  8. Steve- Illinois

    The libs begin eating their own as the train wreck continues.

    October 8, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  9. tom l

    Ohhhh, boy is Sniffit and Company going to mad. They might not watch the Daily Show anymore!

    By the way, I would like a quarter each time I see a liberal post their new favorite talking point "false equivalence". I should be a rich man by the end of today. You guys should go read Krugman, the NY Times OpEd or the Daily Kos to get your next term to use...

    October 8, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  10. Dr Nick R.

    “I think the president did not want to dismantle the health care that 85% of the country had," Sebelius responded.

    Too late.

    “Economists, not anecdotal folks, but economists, say there is absolutely no evidence that part-time work is going up. In fact, it’s going down,” she said.

    The folks who's hours have been reduced will be so happy to learn that it's not true. Thank goodness for "economists".

    Toward the end, Stewart argued that a market-based strategy toward health care is a flawed concept in itself... "

    Except, I guess, for the 85 percent who had health insurance.

    "and that a single payer system would have been a more simple approach." “Am I a stupid man?”

    Apparently.

    October 8, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  11. Mike

    "Am I a stupid man?" Maybe...we do not need a single payer system. SS and Medicare are going broke. Why in the world would you consider our incompetent Government managing the healthcare of everybody?

    October 8, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  12. SMFIC in NJ

    Alright, so everyone needs to relax about Stewart. He's nothing more than an advocate for cuban style universal healthcare and that his gripe with Sebelius is just that the technology failed and that the takeover of 1/6th of the US economy wasn't big enough.
    Frankly it's sad that college kids and twentysomethings turn to this fool for their "news". Obamacare is crap, it's run by the kids who got made fun of in school because they were geeks, and now they want their revenge on everyone by ruling through fiat.

    October 8, 2013 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  13. TomInRochNY

    It's still so sad that the best news programs are on Comedy Central.

    October 8, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  14. Eduardo Valle, PhD

    Surprised to see Mr. Stewart actually ask difficult questions to a Democratic guest. Of course, if the single-payer system is the end goal, then this is simply more fodder for low-information viewers. Time will tell if Mr. Stewart evolves into a journalist instead of a comedian, or am I repeating myself?

    October 8, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  15. fredrikcoulter

    "The secretary also said that for the first time ever, part-time employees in the United Sates would now have the option to purchase health insurance under the new law."

    This fits into the Big Lie category of interview response. Individual health care policies, as opposed to employer provided group policies, have never had employment status as one of their criteria. If you could pay the premiums, you could be insured. So part time individuals have always had the ability to purchase health insurance.

    October 8, 2013 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  16. joe

    Poor John. Actually thinking he might get a straight answer. Sigh.

    October 8, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    I don't know what is up with the web site servers. It's like someone intentionally gave them bad advice. I don't see any reason why they have not added more platforms to keep up with traffic demands.

    October 8, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  18. doug sears

    It's a waste of time to listen to politicans

    October 8, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  19. chris O'Neil

    John Stewart asked if he was a stupid man, I would have to say yes you are John, you are a stupid man you are a very stupid, stupid man.
    You spent the past week echoing your lefty friends about what a moron Ted Cruz is for asking the exact same questions you asked Sebelius and Cruz got the same non answers that frustrated you. Cruz wants to stop this terrible law that will remove all patient privacy and lead to chaos in the medical field, not to mention the jobs it will kill.
    But you are too blinded by your ideology to realize the Obama administration is a joke and you are just a useful idiot, like the rest of the drones in Hollywood.

    October 8, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  20. Ira Epstein

    “I think the president did not want to dismantle the health care that 85% of the country had," Sebelius responded. - could have fooled me.

    October 8, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  21. Layla

    Gov. Sebelius is going to be looking for a new job, maybe parttime, when the voters get to the polls next year because they are going to vote Congress out. She can deny this all she wants but its happening. How can you feed your family on 29 hours a week?

    This administration is done pulling the wool over our eyes.

    Thank you for taking the side of the people FOR ONCE, Mr. Stewart.

    October 8, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  22. Dave K

    “I think the president did not want to dismantle the health care that 85% of the country had," Sebelius responded.

    It would have been a hard sell... the idea of our incompetent government being in charge of the healthcare of my loved one's (and myself) is terrifying.

    October 8, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  23. CletusTJudd

    so what's Obama going to do about the "surprise" insurance cancellation letters and increasing costs to families?

    October 8, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
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