Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the administration's own predictions that the new health care law's online sign-up system would be ready by Oct. 1 were "just flat out wrong."
Sebelius told NBC's "Meet the Press" in an interview airing Sunday the health care website's launch was "terribly flawed and terribly difficult."
She says that eight-week period was her low point of her tenure. Sebelius last week announced her resignation. She says she wanted to give President Barack Obama enough time to bring in a new health chief.
Sebelius' resignation comes just a week after sign-ups for insurance coverage ended, enrolling 7.1 million people and exceeding initial expectations.
Enrollment has since increased to 7.5 million as people were given extra time to complete applications.
Sebelius also defended the law's impact and said millions of Americans now have access to health care because of it.
"People have competitive choices and real information for the first time ever in this insurance market," said Sebelius, who last week announced her resignation.
Yet she acknowledged the rocky rollout for the online sign-up system fraught with technical problems that left Americans frustrated.
"Clearly, the estimate that it was ready to go Oct. 1 was just flat out wrong," Sebelius said.
HealthCare.gov was envisioned as the principal place for people to buy insurance under Obama's health care law. But its first few weeks were an embarrassment for the administration and its allies.
"Well, I think there's no question — and I've said this many times — that the launch of the website was terribly flawed and terribly difficult," Sebelius said.
The departing secretary said she decided after the 2012 presidential election that she wanted to leave the administration but decided to stay through the sign-up period. Sebelius said Obama did not try to convince her to stay through the end of his term.
"I thought it was fair to either commit till January of 2017 or leave with enough time that he would get a strong, competent leader," Sebelius said.
— The Associated Press
First published April 13 2014, 9:13 AM