Stewart to Sebelius on health care law “Am I a stupid man?”
October 8th, 2013
01:27 AM ET
5 years 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. PharmGrl

    Oh, but the president did want to dismantle the insurance 85% of Americans had.
    Democrats' real problem is they underestimated opposition 3 years and have NO viable plan to survive the 2-3 year Death Spiral of private insurance, with huge premium jackings intended to make us scream for single payer. By all accounts both Obama and Sebelius were confident that if they could just get ACA past SCOTUS, the country would roll over and comply. they never dreamed only 17 states would set up exchanges.
    Last weeks CNN poll has to be giving Sebelius serious bouts of nauseous insomnia:
    Obamacare will help my family : 17%
    Obamacare will hurt my family: 40%
    Obamacare will not affect my family: 41%

    October 8, 2013 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  2. Richard Long

    So where are the Obamacare enrollment results?

    If the Obama Regime clowns can't even launch Obamacare correctly, just wait and see how they manage it for years to come.

    October 8, 2013 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  3. Marie MD

    The fact that it was so hard to get through means that five times more people than they expected to sign up did.
    It's not the first time a website goes down or doesn't work because of more hits than expected.
    As far as Stewart is concerned. Bring back John. He did a better job this summer.

    October 8, 2013 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  4. Data Driven

    Fair criticisms. Number one, the Administration made a colossal mistake by delaying business implementation for a year. Business men and women are big boys and girls; let em figure it out. Number two, while I was defending the issues caused by access traffic last week, enough is enough. Fix it. Why do I get the feeling that there was no beta-testing?

    October 8, 2013 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  5. Paper fave

    This woman is a paid liar, like the carny. 70 percent of zero's jobs are part time. She has to lie, she got her orders!

    October 8, 2013 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  6. Tom

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

    Keyword: 'Had'

    October 8, 2013 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  7. Alexis

    Nurse Ratched had more credibility.

    October 8, 2013 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  8. Mr Priest

    I think the President and Democrats did a mighty fine job of Destroying the Healthcare that the 85% had

    October 8, 2013 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  9. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    After watching several shows last night, it has become clear that the Kochs have been orchestrating the government shutdown. It makes one wonder how many pieces of silver Boehner got for selling out his country to the crazy bilionaires.

    October 8, 2013 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  10. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    After the Boehner/Bagger Conspiracy to shut down America, Boehner will take his rightful place in history, next to Aaron Burr.

    October 8, 2013 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  11. SteveR

    When will liberals just leave everyone alone? Stewart asked about big government, why didn't he ask HER to sign up for the insurance live on air? That,,,, would have been funny.

    October 8, 2013 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  12. Joshua2415

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

    So he just raised all of their premiums instead.

    October 8, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  13. A True Conservative

    Did you vote for Obame Jon? The answer to that question will provide you with the answer to "am I a stupid man?"

    October 8, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  14. SteveR

    Obama was so upset over the computer glitch, he asked Putin if he would allow Snowden to return to the U.S. just long enough to reboot the Windows 95 Obamacare server.

    October 8, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  15. jnobfan

    The Progressives are fond of saying "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the One" but they had no problem wrecking a healthcare system that served 85% of us quite well. Its about control not healthcare.

    October 8, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  16. Bob

    Wow, are the Democrat leaders blind to the failure of their policy. They can't distinguish reality from fiction or truth from lie. Some of their followers are starting to ask questions to which the answers are obvious, but even they won't give up the liberal heaven – single-payer. they decry the free market that leads to lower costs and wider availability in the believe that government will solve all problems when it's failure is right in front of them.

    October 8, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  17. A True Conservative

    Ms. Sebelius – you did dismantle the health care that 85% of the nation had. My employer has discontinued the health care that I had and replaced it with something else that increases my deductables, increases my out of pocket max, increases my monthly cost and eliminates some of my coverage. And now I will need to chip in to help others, including Congress, pay for their health care coverage. I'm certainly glad that you didn't dismantle the system that was working for 85% of us! God help us if you ever do!

    October 8, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  18. SteveR

    They finally figured out what started the SUV-biker gang incident in NY. Apparently the driver of the SUV is a democrat. He was upset because the biker in front of him was the GEICO motorcycle guy with the money stuck all over his body. He was trying to sell non-obamacare insurance..

    October 8, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  19. marge

    Well, if Obama didn't want " to dismantle the health care that 85% of the country had", he certainly has failed again... of course, she doesn't even mention whether people who had health insurance are now faced with losing it because they can't afford to pay the insurance freight for a family of takers too.

    October 8, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  20. BrianPerkins, Sr.

    But he HAS "dismantled" the health care for 85% of Americans. And for political ends >

    October 8, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  21. nosuchluck

    Liar, liar, liar.

    October 8, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  22. Niles Silver

    Children talking to children on a childish TV show – are there any real men left in this country – what a joke we've become –

    October 8, 2013 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  23. Lewis

    Like everyone in the Obama administration, she is in way over her head.

    October 8, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  24. nunya

    Wow. Even as they start to eat their own we are left to suffer.

    October 8, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  25. smith

    Well, Stewart was fair and balanced. Maybe he should join FOX. The rollout has been awful and their is no excuse.

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