Critics Slam Sebelius for Response to 'Obamacare' Complaints

HHS secretary responds to critics' demands she resign over "Obamacare" website troubles.
13:08 | 10/25/13

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Transcript for Critics Slam Sebelius for Response to 'Obamacare' Complaints
This is a special. I'm Dan tougher New York this ABC news digital special report obamacare under attack critics of the health care law in and outside of congress continued to hammer way. At the botched roll out the balky web sites and the woman they say is most responsible secretary of health and human services Kathleen Sebelius. Our team coverage begins and ABC's Ann Compton in Washington. The three week old Obama -- web site's been plagued by glitches since its launch. That's left lawmakers of both parties angry but Republicans. Are demanding that HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius to resign or be fired. Well done. Majority of people calling for me to resign and I would say are people who I don't work for and who do not want this program to work in the first place. So -- the project has cost hundreds of millions of dollars 375. Million on the two largest contracts alone. That's well over twice as much as apple spent developing the iPhone. But when pressed by congress the contractors who helped build the site. Could not say when and the problems will be -- -- There's improvement today arbor day. I can Nike -- exact date as to win it will be completely two. Satisfaction. Lawmakers were not happy with that why were we told. Everything was okay a few weeks before one of the biggest IT disasters. In government history many Democrats charge Republicans don't want Obama care to work at. All we have already documented -- record of Republicans attempting to sabotage. The Affordable Care Act. -- contractors placed some of the blame on the administration for requesting last minute changes and also said. They had only a few days to test the site before it launched. Secretary civilians we'll get to respond to those charges next week when she testifies on Capitol Hill. And Compton ABC news Washington. -- expand on the discussion we're joined now from one -- vikings news political director Rick Klein and ABC's Mary Bruce outside. A win the White House this Friday afternoon. Regular start with you what's the latest from the White House -- how long it's gonna take to get the site fixed. Finally. -- a statement on that in the -- saying now the end of November will be the time by which they guarantee that that the site will be operational for just about everyone. That is rather stunning if you think about first of all they haven't told us -- -- before that that is going to be a full two months into the three month open enrollment period so. -- will use two thirds of the time just -- the web -- is working. It is astounding the depth of the problems it would seem -- this web site. After all that confidence all that build up telling people to get on day one announcing it's gonna take a full two months -- get the system on the front door right is remarkable. Now -- then the question is then is that deadline ban extended given that. Well the deadline to sign up for obamacare has always been in -- the end of march functionally because you to go without three months. Health care to be subject to a penalty so there's no change in terms of that that -- there will be pressure to change it. Now that we hear that he will be extended. I will say this what if they are able to say that this will be as smooth as it was supposed to be. At the beginning of October at the end of November and people will have the opportunity on line and you can't say that the media not covering -- the you'll know about the deadlines it has been wall to wall coverage. This gives them -- -- wiggle room but there's almost no is scenario where it if it is not right exactly then right after Thanksgiving. That they can continue to say that there -- detectable the penalties I can't imagine that just because this -- this website has been such a mess. In -- it is as smooth as log on to Amazon and and and buying toilet paper you are knocking you're not going to be able to be required I can imagine the in the idea of requiring people to buy something that's -- be as difficult as it's been to get the last. And the health and human services secretary -- today spoke on the West Coast and then again this morning in Austin what has she been sent. An aerial have a more on this but she's been walking back a little bit something that she said yesterday which -- that the people that are calling for her resignation. Aren't the people that she works war by and large that is a that is a stunningly bad thing this day -- public servant and she's been trying to undo some of the damage people have been. Calling for her resignation on the Republican side for the last couple of days and this is only in -- fuels the fire Mary if you can't jump into that then is there concern then by the secretary about her possibly -- her job over this. Right now the administration continues to stand by secretary Sebelius saying that she will not be fired over this but as Rick mentioned I mean now -- -- absolutely tone deaf and artful statement on her part. The administration today came out and kind of issued a clarification on it saying that the secretary serves of the pleasure of the president for the American people. That -- simply trying to point out the longstanding Republican opposition to this. Loss saying and trying to remind everyone that she serves the public and not these Republican lawmakers continue to try and repeal the law that. Want her to resign over this that shut down the government over the -- that she's focusing on the problems but no question about it absolutely a horribly worded statement from the secretary. What has the White House or the secretary given any kind of indication that this kind of campaign will continue on in the defense of her of her own capability of that position. I expect we'll continue to hear Republicans calling for her to resign over this and keep in mind it's not just Republicans there are some Democrats that are now piling on to that. But keep in mind this is a president who does not like to fire people this administration wants to focus on fixing the problems and not assigning blame. They're hoping that they'll be able to solve these problems and then get to the finger pointing later so I would not expect that you'll see any firings coming out of this White House. Art -- let me ask you this what is this concern trolling that the kids are calling these days by Republicans and obamacare opponents. Of SARS and -- again the concern concern -- all of concern trolling yes. So what's happening now is that in the last couple days Republicans have been out there saying we want to hear your story about how difficult it's been the yet. Health care and the idea that the Democrats are putting forward I think it's a legitimate one is that there wasn't that concern until there was a problem with these web sites. That -- be the idea that Republicans are suddenly. Going to be the party that is concerned about worried about the fact that people have access to healthcare that's a stretch when you realize that even the opponents of this expansion that present Obama is talking about. And I do think it's legitimate critique of Republicans to go back and say all -- energy -- -- setting up web sites that people collect their stories. About how difficult it is to sign up for obamacare president directing the same resources are trying to fix the problem. And I think on the other side the eve there's no doubt that opponents of obamacare are using -- -- web sites as an excuse. But doesn't mean. That there isn't something behind that and I think the that we're -- in the White House and administration slowly wake up to the reality it is a reality his website does not work -- is a disaster. And they have to fix it. Otherwise the law won't work in his taken several days in the developed that the get beyond the politics is so politically charged on all sides. But I think it's it's illegitimate -- to -- to Republicans where was the same concern when people with preexisting conditions went decades without guarantee of health insurance looking at. About that and -- because the fact that matters that you have the White House and the secretary of all the -- that is today's has a capability. Being remain in this position but at the same time. If in fact she were to be pushed out of that role even hearing any kind of rumblings of a chance. Being any concern about being held in for -- replacement from congress that's exact. -- and in -- -- -- bill Daley the former White House chief of staff said this the other day in an interview he said it. If fiery civilians now would be like firing the captain of the Titanic after -- it's the iceberg you can't do anything about it at that stage. One of the problems is that the next HHS secretary. It's almost impossible to see confirmation happen in this environment I can't imagine this the the person that can be put forward that could be confirmed in this partisan political environment all the questions that would -- and about obamacare all the questions about subsidies and about exchanges and about web sites. All of that would come to the four so it may be that. Some kept kept his abilities of the person that got us into this and her -- got us into it is what I have to be her way out just because there is not a legitimate way to to say we've got someone else waiting in the wings Democrats have been pretty resolute -- the support. But. -- we see any signs of cracks given the growing chorus -- about Republicans and but frankly anyone outside of Washington. We're seeing the kind of veiled and veiled jabs at Kathleen Sebelius leadership people think heads should roll -- people need to be replaced -- people should be fired those are things no one is lost their job so far. We are seems more significant cracks in democratic unity on the question. Of when these insurance the -- has -- into effect the idea that January 1 is that the -- this kicks in when people start being penalized. More and more Democrats are talking about the lane that by a period of months or even up to a year until you can assure that these exchanges are ready. Problems the White House doesn't -- -- give on that because they know that -- younger and healthier people don't sign up. And they don't have a penalty to threaten them to sign up there hanging over their heads they may not sign up. That the whole system collapses under its own weight literally does not work if you don't have people. In -- any roughly equal numbers on the younger and healthier scale to balance out the people on the older and and sicker scale. Minute -- shared responsibility on the marijuana bring you back into this because -- -- some conflicting reports of the past 2448. Hours from. From various news outlets is far as the actual deadline for when. Folks need to buy insurance what is the date. March 31. That is the magic date the administration is not extending enrollment they're not delaying the mandate. When you may have heard is that they're giving consumers an additional six weeks to go ahead and sign up without facing that risk of a penalty. As a law as currently written you would have to sign up and apply by February 16 or you would face the risk of that tax penalty. Now -- giving people an additional six weeks and they have to march 31 to sign up -- that is still the key -- here. If -- -- -- we're we're talking about those critics that have looked very sharply at this legislation and the rollout of that. But there are some that are supporting in -- two progressive groups in Colorado have introduced a rather unique new ad campaign urging young people to sign up what is there -- pitch. They're calling it and brochure and think this -- say a sort of -- -- fall of almost a little shocking way to get young people involved as -- just mentioned they are the absolute key demographic here you need those healthy young people. To sign up and enroll in order to help offset some of those costs of the older populations which tend to have higher health care costs you more -- healthy. And that this is a way kind of a fun playful way to get people back to sign up and get insurance. Yet you kind of wonder if you -- your insurance to be on the shoulders of someone that's doing keg stand -- I mean not to read too much and of that but it obviously there there is that very very tongue in cheek. Minutes message out about one. That's from private groups would -- any public service announcements that we expect anything else from the White House. But the administration continues to get out there and try and make their messages we mentioned earlier Kathleen Sebelius is out in Texas today -- on the road yesterday of course trying to encourage everyone to sign up the president is also tapped into his supporters from the campaign is organizing for America campaign trying to get everyone. To get the word out to sign up even as these pledges continues the administration Japan continues to urge people to sign up on the phone to sign up in person did the old fashioned way but to get the word out. That health insurance is open and it's time to sign up. Rick big picture aside from the keg stands and aside from the English web site when Republicans are. Bringing this issue first and foremost to the American people how is this going to play out long term and the political role obviously for -- mid terms coming up. Everything depends on the financing this and whether the system actually works if people are hit with sticker shock and grief shock next year around this time of the signing up for the next year. That can be a political calamity. If however the system has proved he worked at the whole theory of obamacare. Works and people are able to sign up in larger numbers overall health care cost this country go down -- less of a drag on emergency rooms and -- If it works then I think the Democrats have a plausible argument we've seen obamacare. Used as a political weapon in the past in the abstract. This is the reality this is happening now -- been a bad first almost a month now they have time to turn it around if they're able to make this thing. Actually function on its own that I think you've got a much different way to go into the mid term elections and if you're able -- if you have to say this thing was a badly conceived and badly executed idea. Tick tock tick -- the clock does not stop right. That's right that's right -- look this is an experiment it is a big one is a high risk one this is what it's about. And the glitches are just that piece of it we're going to be hearing more about this and in the months to come but I agree. Totally that big picture what -- -- is whether this thing works and. That it ABC's Rick Klein Washington Mary Bruce outside the White House thank you both we appreciate that. We have a complete report on ABC news -- conference on -- that's our New York with this ABC news digital special report.

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

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