Sebelius thanks staff, warns work is far from over
April 2nd, 2014
12:26 AM ET
5 months ago

Sebelius thanks staff, warns work is far from over

Washington (CNN) - With Obamacare enrollment surpassing the key 7 million mark and the website able to handle record traffic while only experiencing some glitches, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius showed her appreciation to her department's employees.

"Today, as we mark the end of the first open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace, I want to thank you for the progress we’ve made, together," Sebelius wrote the staff Tuesday afternoon in a note obtained by CNN.

This marks a moment of vindication for Sebelius, who came under withering criticism last fall for the botched rollout of the HealthCare.gov website and some calls for her resignation.

Besides the 7 million mark, she touted the expansion of coverage for millions of others: through Medicaid and a children’s health program as well as 3 million who were allowed to stay on their parents' insurance.

"I know that this law has been at the center of much debate and discourse in Washington, but what this enrollment demonstrates is that the Affordable Care Act is working and much needed," she said in the note.

The ability to meet the 7 million mark was due in part to the department's re-working of the website allowing it to handle record capacity. The website Monday saw 4.8 million visits with some traffic glitches and more than 2 million calls to call centers. This was a marked contrast to when the site first launched in October and the technology could not keep up, with Sebelius being blamed for not doing enough to make sure the site was ready.

She and the department still have not answered key questions that will help determine the ultimate success of the program; how many of those who signed up have actually paid premiums, what the mix of young vs. old enrollees are and how many of the applicants previously were uninsured.

"Our work is far from over. But I hope you will take a moment to pause and celebrate - be proud of the difference you are making in the lives of your fellow Americans," she told the staff.

Asked whether the President has more confidence in Sebelius now than back in November, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday, "The President has had and has confidence in his Secretary of Health and Human Services."

On Monday Sebelius said she would be in her job for the next round of open enrollment, which begins in November. "I'm in," she told HuffPost Live.


Filed under: Healthcare • Kathleen Sebelius • Obamacare • Washington
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Ted Cruz is right , who needs affordable health care when climate change will kill you anyway .

    Green Eggs And Ham is a true story .

    April 2, 2014 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  2. dspez

    and yet mo one asks "at what cost"–what has become the largest marketing campaign and political giveaway in modern times-facilitators?-over $1billion alone-software?-web? print? bus signs,newspaper ads, tv ads, etc, etc,etc,etc-–again what is the total cost per signup???$1000?–$10,000-$1,000,000--does anyone even know????

    April 2, 2014 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  3. biodome

    Now that I've enrolled for insurance coverage, the republicans want to take it away. I thought personal responsibility was central to conservatism. Keep your meddling hands off my Obamacare!

    April 2, 2014 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  4. Dems in PA

    April FOOLS!!! – Obamacare enrollment surpassing the key 7 million,

    April 2, 2014 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  5. Gurgyl

    It is going to be a Huge Success and it is a great necessity for a developed world like the USA. God bless, Obama. Period.

    April 2, 2014 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  6. Tampa Tim

    While the GOBaggers want to repeal the ACA because they do not want people with pre existing conditions to have health care, maybe, instead, they could repeal those republican plans that waste billions upon billions of dollars: tax breaks for big oil, tax cuts for the wealthy, and defense department waste.

    April 2, 2014 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  7. reality check

    Vindication? We still don't know all the parts of this joke web site that are not completed. After 4 years and nearly a billion dollars? Only in the huge wasteful, incompetent federal bureaucracy is this fiasco considered a success.

    Had this been a private business, it would have been done two years earlier (completely done), for one tenth of the cost, and worked seamlessly right out of the box, or heads would have rolled.

    And these are the clowns that want to control and run your healthcare. A scary, scary thought.

    April 2, 2014 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  8. smith

    3 million young healthy adults that aren`t in the ACA pool. This the main reason premiums will have a massive increase next year. Im sick of hearing how premiums have always increased and this is nothing new. Yes, they have always gone up, BUT only a couple of dollars a month. We are talking $50 to $200 a month in some cases even more. To say this is nothing new is absolute fodder.

    April 2, 2014 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    On Monday Sebelius said she would be in her job for the next round of open enrollment, which begins in November. "I'm in," she told HuffPost Live.
    -------------------------------------------------
    I am happy, as a woman, that you were given the opportunity by the President to correct your miscalculation vis-a-vis the capacity of the website to handle the volume.
    A good "manager' knows that employees need to be given the opportunity to recuperate from errors as that ultimately bolsters their self-confidence and their loyalty to the workplace.
    Congratulations Ms. Sebelius, and good judgment call Mr. President in keeping her on and not getting sucked into the vortex of the screaming memees that were demanding she be removed from her position.

    April 2, 2014 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  10. salty dog

    Now it's "cooking the books", your party is disgusting, to hope so badly that healthcare for all doesn't work, speaks volumes. Its those" Christian values" at work again . Look at what they've done, cut food to hungry children, to accommodate more tax breaks for the 1%, yet claim to be compassionate, god fearing souls, talk about evil, wake up people .

    April 2, 2014 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    The ability to meet the 7 million mark was due in part to the department's re-working of the website allowing it to handle record capacity. The website Monday saw 4.8 million visits with some traffic glitches and more than 2 million calls to call centers. This was a marked contrast to when the site first launched in October and the technology could not keep up, with Sebelius being blamed for not doing enough to make sure the site was ready.
    ---------------------------
    The site still isn't robust enough. Those 7 million people will be renewing their insurance each fall, I assume. I've heard predictions that the 7 million figure could double in two years. This first enrollment was pretty bumpy but it saw 7 miillion people enroll over a six month period. Health insurance re-enrollment periods typically last for a month, usually November.

    In other words, the web site will need to handle over the course of a single month double the amount of traffic that it saw over teh course of six months. I keep repeating that the concurrent user numbers they keep tossing around are too small by a factor of at least ten. I hope you can begin to understand what it is that I'm trying to make people understand.

    April 2, 2014 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    smith

    3 million young healthy adults that aren`t in the ACA pool. This the main reason premiums will have a massive increase next year. Im sick of hearing how premiums have always increased and this is nothing new. Yes, they have always gone up, BUT only a couple of dollars a month. We are talking $50 to $200 a month in some cases even more. To say this is nothing new is absolute fodder.
    -------------------------------
    Didn't your conservative pundits tell about what's actually in the law? Insurers are restricted to how much that they can raise rates each year. Higher increases would have to be documented and justified.

    Oh yeah, their profits are restricted to 20% of premiums, instead of the 30-50% profits that we've seen in the past. Guess what happens when their profits exceed the 20% limit. The money doessn't go to shareholders as dividends, and it doesn't go to top executives as bonuses. It is returned to the consumers who had paid too much and were overcharged for premiums.

    In other words, premiums are just as likely to go down as they are to go up, perhaps even more so.

    April 2, 2014 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  13. Gurgyl

    Kathleen, congratulations, heartfelt wishes for succeeding ACA Law. I think we need a separate booster or satellite to hold traffic and data with strong back plan. God bless!! Democrats, use this as a strong tool in November.

    April 2, 2014 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  14. Rudy NYC

    reality check

    Vindication? We still don't know all the parts of this joke web site that are not completed. After 4 years and nearly a billion dollars? Only in the huge wasteful, incompetent federal bureaucracy is this fiasco considered a success.
    --------------------------------
    I haven't heard a single Democrat use the word "vindication", just the folks in right wing media. Here's a thought, since you're so worried about costs and how money that has been spent over four years. How about if we cut out the oil company subsidies? That way we could pay for at least 4 web sites per year, instead of 1 every 4 years.

    But since the initial cost of startup is a one-time expense, we could apply the savings towards reducing the annual deficit. Besides, I wouldn't mind paying a penny more per gallon of gasoline if it means I'm paying down the national debt.

    April 2, 2014 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  15. Marty

    I think it GREAT! Just imagine how many more taxpayers can look forward to loosing health insurance coverage paid for by an employer and be forced onto a plan paid for by themselves. This leaves more money for the company with higher profits, higher taxes and more government control. My question is "Who is John Galt"?

    April 2, 2014 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  16. smith

    @Rudy- The problem is that part of law won`t take effect until after the insurance companies set their prices based on the pool of applicants.

    April 2, 2014 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  17. Gurgyl

    -–if a company loses an Employee just because of insurance, they lose the business–because some one needs to do the job. At that level, part-timers will not be helpful. Foreign governments are also imposing huge taxes on these guys.

    April 2, 2014 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  18. Rudy NYC

    smith

    @Rudy- The problem is that part of law won`t take effect until after the insurance companies set their prices based on the pool of applicants.
    -----------------------------–
    You're dead wrong. That part of the law kicked almost immediately, right from the start. Folks have been getting refund checks from their health insurance providers for the past couple of years. It was a campaign issue during the summer of 2012.

    Do conservatives have anything to offer besides horror stories and scare tactics? How about solutions to end these doomsday scenarios you keep predicting, but which never seem to pass?

    BTW, Paul Ryan's "Plan fo Prosperity", which fully repeal the ACA and turn Medicare into a voucher system is not a solution. It's a death sentence. If insurers are allowed to turn people away with pre-existing conditions again, then how are seniors supposed to buy health insurance, anyway? The insurers would turn them down simply because of age, which is exactly the reason that Medicare was started in the first place. The private markets refused to insure seniors, so the government did.

    April 2, 2014 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  19. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    I swear I have never in my lifetime seen so many supposed Americans hoping the country fails. I thought we'd come a long way but apparently we haven't. Yes I vote Democrat but no matter who is in the Oval Office, I would never want to see them fail. I guess it shows who really raises their children right. And it ain't who many think it is.

    April 2, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |