Kathleen Sebelius Calls for Investigation Into the Healthcare.gov Launch

Health secretary discusses insurance site improvements and plans to track down what went wrong.
3:00 | 12/11/13

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Transcript for Kathleen Sebelius Calls for Investigation Into the Healthcare.gov Launch
This is a special. Hello I'm tired and is in New York with an ABC -- digital special report house committee's about to begin questioning health and human services secretary. Athletes and -- Problems with the rollout of Obama care including. Problematic lots of health care dot. Earlier today's -- is that she's calling for an investigation into the web sites flawed development. As the Obama administration prepares to release new enrollment numbers. -- us now from Washington ABC's Devin Dwyer who has been following this story. -- tell us about the new enrollment numbers be released by the White House are they. It in any way shape performed catching up -- look like they might catch up a -- Morning -- that's right well those numbers did just come out just about an hour ago they show some positive signs there was. Somewhat of a surge in sign ups in November this report that just came out. -- -- second monthly installment from the administration showed about. 200 and 59260000. Sign ups in November that on top of -- -- roughly 100000. In October remember that first troubled months so all told now about 365000. People. Has signed up for new health insurance plans through these new exchanges. It's a positive sign them lots of traffic to the web site that some serious problems remain there's still a big backlog of people. Who filled out applications for health insurance one point nine million. But have not yet selected a plan. Many of those people had trouble because of the technical problems with the web -- there's also we've learned in this report today some 35000. Americans who signed up who navigated all these problems to think they'd enrolled. And actually come to find out that some technical glitches on the back end of this system. May have prevented their enrollments from actually taking effect so. Those people now have to go back and recheck their enrollment so mixed bag here positive sign -- clearly along. Go to -- a real headache an embarrassment for the administration. -- it and it's nowhere near the target the administration had set for itself when it implement the law. That's right the Congressional Budget Office -- -- -- partisan agency on Capitol Hill that. Makes projections for all all sorts of pieces of legislation projected -- about seven million people. Would sign up for individual plans by march of next year that's the end of the -- -- period. Right now as we just set about 365000. Have made it through the process so a very small fraction of that seven million. The White House says they are on track they're confident they pointed. The Massachusetts experience. Of a few years ago when a whole a bunch of people signed up the -- of people really. Signed up at the last minute so they're kind of hoping and expecting that that's the case here but it certainly an uphill climb to hit that -- -- seven million people. -- should also say tied it. That how many people sign -- isn't necessarily an indicator of whether this whole thing is going to work we talk to insurers. The past few days they say what's more important and that top line number. Is actually the mix of people who sign -- the mix of healthy. -- of sick people which could help keep those premiums down so will also be watching that as we approach -- march 31 deadline but certainly. It's still a long way to go. The -- you highlighted some of the problems that are still ongoing it will be virtually impossible. For the administration even come near that target unless these -- are fixed set tells about did the existing problems that still played a web site. That's right -- that website is vastly improved but there are still some you know lingering issues with the processing of these applications particularly. On the backside of that the the part of the web -- that consumers don't interact with that's known as the -- and and the biggest issues right now are with these documents known -- 834. Forms that's the consumer information that you -- into the web site that gets transferred to the insurance company -- actually finish the enrollment. That 834 process has been flawed. We learned did in the past couple of weeks -- in October and November as many as a quarter. Of all people one -- four who applied through this system had errors in -- 834 forms meaning insurers didn't know who they were had faulty information couldn't complete the process. That has significantly improved they say the White House says it's now only about one in ten. But still significant problems on that side of the of this system. To lock in some of these -- -- they're scrambling to get that done an official told me last night that is their top priority right now. -- -- he said this is the back -- -- the process and something the insurer takes care of if you had applied for insurance would you even know that this problem existed with your application. Well that's that that's the big question right now a lot of people frustrated we've talked to some consumers who signed up. In early November they say -- I navigated the process I've got my confirmation number I've even heard dad. My -- obtained my ID number from my insurance company only to find out a few weeks later that the insurance company has no record. Of the transaction whatsoever so the the White House is encouraging anyone who sign up through. Health care dot -- -- any of the state exchanges to call their insurance company immediately. To confirm that they are in the system that they do have coverage in if they don't. To sign up immediately to start the process over again they claim they have 25000. A -- sisters around the country to help people sign up and navigate this process. But we are coming up against that critical December 23 deadline for people to sign up less than two weeks now. You've got to get that insurance policy locked in by then he might not have coverage on January 1. -- its -- difference between that December deadline and the march deadline. That's right well anyone who wants to have a policy take -- the beginning of the year the earliest possible date January 1 when he fourteen. You've got to get your paperwork locked in by the 23 you have to. That essentially sign on the dotted line by the 23 of this month less than two weeks away. Now the bigger picture here if -- if you're not in a rush to get -- by the first. If you're just interest -- still needs more time to shop for insurance policy you do have until March 31. To pick a plan to be in compliance with the individual mandate that's that penalty in the law that says if you don't have an insurance plan and you could pay a fine. That window is still many months away so people do have time to be in compliance with -- if you need more time to shop. In your policy would take effect at the beginning of the following month so. It's all complicated. It's spelled out -- health care back -- they actually have a pretty good information section there which documents all of this but. Bottom line the next big deadline is December 23 for anybody who wants to have coverage at the beginning of the year. And as he said that -- two weeks away we have secretary Sebelius. Facing a house committee right now with at -- -- it's still not up and running 100% what do we expect her to say about this. Well today the focus -- we've already heard a little bit from Republicans is going to be on accountability. We gave general accounting office has said over 600 million dollars was spent through the end of September on developing and rolling out this web site. Today in this is up. Political show hearing here they are out for blood they want to know what she's gonna do to hold people accountable no one has been fired or removed from their post. In light of this fiasco. And -- they want to know she's gonna announce some steps today that the administration is taking to try to hold they're their contractors accountable and keep taxpayers dollars. Used properly time. All right -- -- the timing here because she has just begun to speak let's listen in to secretary Sebelius thank you Devin Dwyer. -- Now responding in under a second the -- air raid which won its top 6%. Has been driven down to below one system is more redundancy and stability. And we can now handle 50000 simultaneous users. And more than 800000. Daily visitors. Now as more Americans -- health -- back up a second look they're finding the experience is night and day compared to where we were back in October. And they're responding by shopping for plans and rolling in greater numbers is. Mr. Waxman sent more than four times as many and rolled in the federal marketplace in November as enrolled in October. In the first two months. Nearly one point two million Americans either selected -- marketplace plan are received Medicaid or chip eligibility determination. With nearly three and a 65000 people selecting a plan an 803000. Receiving a determination. An additional one point nine million people have made it through the application and determination but have not yet selected a plan and we expect that as more folks talk things over with their families and learn about and no options. -- -- -- To those have been frustrated. With the experience so far we're asking you to come back. It's now easier than ever to shop for plans and -- online over the phone in paper in person or directly through an issuer or agents. More -- five million Americans have dialed into our call center in the first two months 450000. Have received assistance from more than. 191000 trained as sisters. And in -- first week of December alone health -- dot -- received nearly five million visits. -- -- -- For health insurance continues for three and a half more months so there is still time. To put this in perspective most private insurance plans offer open enrollment for only a few weeks. Now we continue to be relentless in our efforts to improve health -- dot -- and we're committed to learning and adapting improving an acting on the feedback we received from consumers. And issuers alike. As I told this committee at the end of October the initial launch of health care -- was flawed frustrating and unacceptable. I believe strongly in accountability and our obligations as public servants to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. Now that the website is working more smoothly -- determined it's the right time to begin a process better understanding the structural and managerial policies that led to the -- lunch. So we can take action and avoid these problems in the future. And today am announcing some initial steps I've taken. I've asked our inspector general Sam Levenson to investigate the development of health care dot including contractor acquisition the overall management of the project. And performance and payment of -- contractors. -- -- EMS administrator gallant Hafner to create a new position. And chief risk officer at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. And expedite the search and hiring. The -- be a full time employee charged with assessing risk management practices in developing strategies to minimize those risks. And let me be specific and construct this officer to look at IT and contract management practices starting with health care act of and the risk factors that impeded as successful launch. Last for an initial report in the first sixty days with recommendations on how we can mitigate risk as we move forward. I have instructed TM -- to update and expand their employee training. Be required to adopt best practices for contractor and procurement management rules and procedures. Including internal communications and process news. These actions built on reforms we've already -- which have led to significant improvements in the website. Includes the addition of Jeff science as a management expert and consultant to administrative -- -- me. Selecting each US aside as the systems integrator and changing that dated -- -- management of health care -- Fixing a -- website has proven challenging. But it's nothing compared to the challenges that American families face every day particularly those families who don't yet have health coverage. Families are one medical bill from bankruptcy one diagnosis from -- away from not being able to afford their mortgage or their -- And these efforts are about them. Before the Affordable Care Act as many as 141000. Of our neighbors were losing their coverage each and every day the market operated in efficiently. We as a nation paid more and got. Lower health results -- Today health care cost growth has been driven down to the lowest levels in fifty years. And millions of Americans are already benefiting from new rights and consumer protections. With the new marketplace choice and competition among private market plans is now available to millions of Americans. But our work is not done until every eligible American has the opportunity to access affordable kept -- Muschamp. Turn things generally. An apartment. -- begin question recognize myself -- purpose. Madam secretary based upon. If current trends it's likely that more individuals will have lost coverage on January. Are you have been watching. Health and human services secretary Kathleen particularly -- begin her testimony before -- house committee she faces a tough grilling today you can continue watching her testimony -- responses live. Right here at ABC news -- -- for now on -- Hernandez in New York this has been an ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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