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Updated Oct 24, 2013 - 7:02 pm

Sebelius in Phoenix amid calls for her resignation

PHOENIX — Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said
Thursday that officials are working “24-7” to improve the government’s health
insurance website after its clunky rollout.

Sebelius, the Obama administration’s public point person on implementation of
the new health care law, was in Phoenix amid calls for her resignation over the
technical issues that have prevented people from signing up for coverage online.

“The majority of people calling for me to resign I would say are people who I
don’t work for and do not want this program to work in the first place,”
Sebelius said during a visit to the Wesley Health Center. “I have had frequent
conversations with the president and I’ve admitted to him that my role is to get
the program up and running and we will do just that.”

Sebelius toured a Health and Human Services call center and spoke with
“navigators” who have been trained to educate people about enrolling for
coverage. She said consumers can enroll in-person, by filing paperwork or
contacting a call center. The nation’s 17 call centers are equipped to answer
questions in 150 languages, she said.

While Sebelius was in Phoenix, contractors who helped build the HealthCare.gov
website testified in Washington, D.C., in the first congressional hearing on the
botched rollout. Representatives of CGI Federal and QSSI, which helped
construct, told lawmakers insufficient testing was a factor.

Sebelius said nobody has been fired over the technical glitches and a lot of
the problems were caused by a surge in demand.

“It’s certainly not perfect but getting better by the day,” the former Kansas
governor said. “We now have 700,000 applications that have been submitted for
health insurance. We intend to make sure those folks get the coverage they
need.”

She also said an “anonymous shopper” option was up and running for people who
want to look at different plans and prices. Much of the website’s traffic spike
was attributed to people having to register accounts before being able to shop
around.

Sebelius also noted that the open-enrollment was only three weeks into its
26-week stretch.

“In football terms, it’s early in the first quarter,” she said.

___

Follow Terry Tang at https://twitter.com/ttangAP

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