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Kathleen Sebelius apologizes for health care ‘debacle’

October 31, 2013 J

WASHINGTON – In her first appearance before Congress since the botched debut of the federal health care website, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday apologized for the “debacle,” accepted responsibility and promised the technical problems could be fixed.

Sebelius acknowledged that enrolling in insurance plans through the federal government’s online marketplace was a “miserably frustrating experience for way too many Americans” – an observation Republicans repeatedly underscored by pointing to a screen that showed in real time that the website, healthcare.gov, had gone down.

“I am as frustrated and angry as anyone with the flawed launch,” she told the House Energy and Commerce Committee, becoming the second administration official to testify before Congress on the issue. “So let me say directly to these Americans, you deserve better. I apologize. I’m accountable to you for fixing these problems. And I’m committed to earning your confidence back by fixing the site.”

In 3 1/2 hours of testimony, Sebelius endured an intense grilling from Republican critics but tried to spotlight what she argued were the overlooked successes of the health care law.

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