Sebelius: Obamacare "delay is not an option"

Nov 6, 2013 10:05 AM

WASHINGTON D.C. (CBS) - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday told Congress that it isn't worth delaying the implementation of new Obamacare rules, or taking down the botched website, in spite of the ongoing problems.

"Delaying the Affordable Care Act wouldn't delay people's cancer or diabetes or Parkinson's," Sebelius testified to the Senate Finance Committee. "For millions of Americans, delay is not an option."

She stressed that the open enrollment period for the new Obamacare insurance marketplace lasts through the end of March. "There's plenty of time to sign up for the new plans," she said.

While the administration may not want to delay the law itself, Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., asked Sebelius if the administration has considered taking offline while its technical problems are fixed.

"Why not shut down and do it right?" Baucus asked, instead of "limping along."

Sebelius acknowledged that it has been a "miserable five weeks" since launched on Oct. 1, but she said that the administration's team and outside experts have both said that taking the site down wouldn't be worth it. Those experts said that some improvements should be made while the system is running, while others should be done during routine maintenance outages.

"Given the fact the various fixes -- particularly functionality fixes -- the code has to be written in batches, it's been advised you don't gain much for taking the whole system down for a week, a couple weeks," she said.

Sebelius added that experts have run "a series of diagnostics, looked at the entire system and determined that is fixable and it isn't fatally flawed."

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