Topics: Obamacare

Kathleen Sebelius details 'tech surge' to save Obamacare website

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Politics,White House,Obamacare,Health and Human Services,OMB,Health Care,PennAve,Kathleen Sebelius,Meghashyam Mali,Healthcare.gov,Technology

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday highlighted the administration's “tech surge” to repair the Obamacare insurance exchange website.

In a blog post on the HHS website, Sebelius shared details on the “key steps” the department is taking to “improve the consumer experience on HealthCare.gov.”

The website launched on Oct. 1 to enroll consumers in new insurance exchanges has faced a number of technical problems. President Obama said he was frustrated by the glitch-filled rollout and at a White House event on Monday vowed to fix the issues quickly.

Sebelius said HHS had tapped former Office of Management and Budget Director Jeff Zients to “provide management advice and counsel” to the process.

“Jeff has led some of the country’s top management firms, providing private sector companies around the world with best practices in management, strategy and operations,” said Sebelius in her statement. “Working alongside our team and using his rich expertise and management acumen, Jeff will provide short-term advice, assessments and recommendations.”

She also said that her department had “brought in additional experts and specialists drawn from within government, our contractors, and industry, including veterans of top Silicon Valley companies.” She said those recruited had “extensive experience scaling major IT systems" and would be part of a team “working aggressively to diagnose parts of HealthCare.gov that are experiencing problems, learn from successful states, prioritize issues, and fix them.”

Sebelius added that HHS had also secured additional support personnel and assistance from the contractors already working on the insurance exchange website.

Some Republican lawmakers have called for Sebelius to be fired amid the troubled exchange rollout, but the White House has resisted those calls.

Obama press secretary Jay Carney on Monday said the president’s focus was not on “making heads roll” but on fixing the website’s issues.

The administration has also fought to portray the health care law as a success despite the online problems and encouraged consumers to register for the exchanges by phone or mail.

“Millions of Americans are already benefitting from the law, through increased benefits like preventative care at no additional costs and drug discounts for seniors,” said Sebelius. “We believe the product of the law – affordable health insurance – is good, but we won’t stop until every American who wants it gains access to these new options for care.”

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