FRIDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Just six people enrolled for
health insurance through the federal HealthCare.gov website the
first day of operation on Oct. 1, just-released Obama
administration documents show.
By the end of the second day, 248 people had enrolled in the
controversial insurance program, which has been plagued by computer
problems that virtually crippled the system in the first days of
October, the documents show.
The "war room notes" were prepared by the Center for Consumer
Information and Insurance Oversight, and reported by the
The informal memos were released this week by the
Republican-chaired House Oversight Committee, which is
investigating the problems surrounding the unveiling of the federal
The Obama administration has refused to release any estimate of
the number of people who've enrolled for insurance coverage so far.
But it has said there were 4.7 million unique visitors to
HealthCare.gov on its first day of operation and has now generated
more than 700,000 applications.
On Wednesday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen
Sebelius took responsibility for the rocky rollout of
HealthCare.gov and she committed to fixing the website's many
software and system problems.
"I am as frustrated and angry as anyone with the flawed launch of HealthCare.gov," Sebelius testified before the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee. "So let me say directly to these Americans: You deserve better, I apologize. I'm accountable to you for fixing these problems."
Sebelius, who testified under oath, appeared before members of
Congress for the first time since the Oct. 1 rollout of the federal
health insurance marketplace that's intended to let millions of
uninsured Americans purchase health-care coverage.
The secretary's much-anticipated remarks came amid a rising
chorus of GOP calls in the House and Senate seeking her
resignation. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on Tuesday joined at
least two other Senators in calling for her to step down.
Sebelius was the second member of the Obama administration to
testify this week. On Tuesday, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of
the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, issued a
public apology in testimony before the House Ways and Means
Committee and discussed efforts to improve the website within a
On Wednesday, Sebelius admitted that "end-to-end" testing of the
federal website had been inadequate. Now that problems were being
identified and resolved, she said she expects HealthCare.gov to be
functioning optimally by the end of November.
But in opening remarks, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman
Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said the site was down early Wednesday morning
when "we were hit with an error message."
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the committee's second-most senior
member, compared the website glitches to early problems with the
rollout of Medicare's prescription drug program, which took effect
Jan. 1, 2006. He urged his fellow committee members "to stop
As with the prescription drug program, "the early glitches with
this program will soon be forgotten," he said.
The federal website is the entry point for millions of Americans
in 36 states to enroll in health insurance plans that take effect
in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. People in 14 states and the
District of Columbia may enroll through state-based health
insurance exchanges, or marketplaces. Many of those state-run
exchanges seem to be running much smoother than the federal
Since Day One, consumers trying to access HealthCare.gov have
experienced long wait times, timeouts and error messages, making it
difficult to enroll for health-care coverage online.
In a heated exchange Wednesday, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)
pressed Sebelius for the names of people "responsible for this
"Hold me accountable for the debacle. I'm responsible," Sebelius said.
Along with the website foul-up, many committee members grilled
the secretary on another issue: recent cancellations of individual
health insurance policies.
Recalling President Barack Obama's oft-repeated promise to
Americans that "if you like your health plan, you can keep it,"
Republican members told stories of constituents receiving
cancellation notices from their insurers.
"We know that in the individual market, a number of the plans being sold are not 'grandfathered' and are not currently meeting the (health reform) law," Sebelius acknowledged.
Historically, people with individual insurance policies could be
"locked out, priced out, dumped out" of their coverage. But new
protections under the Affordable Care Act will prevent such abuses,
To learn how to apply for health-plan coverage, visit
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