Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius told Congress on Wednesday morning that the Obamacare website, healthcare.gov, never actually “crashed,” but had merely been running slowly.
Sebelius made the claim during a highly-anticipated and contentious hearing at the House Energy and Commerce Committee, under questioning by Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-PA)–emphasis added:
Rep. Pitts: Ms. Campbell told us that two weeks prior to the October 1st launch, they were told to turn off the browsing feature. Were you aware in September that this decision was made?
Secretary Sebelius: Sir, I wasn’t aware of that particular decision that was made by the CMS [Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services] team. I was aware that we were pearing back some features to not put additional risk on the website.
Rep. Pitts: And who made that decision? Who made that decision?
Secretary Sebelius: Administrator [Marilyn] Tavenner made that decision.
Rep. Pitts: And do you know why that was made?
Secretary Sebelius: Yes, sir, because we were anxious to get the website up and running and functional, which we clearly have failed to do to date, although I would suggest the website has never crashed. It is functional, but at a very slow speed and very low reliability and has continued to function. Having said that, they pared down some of the features, feeling that it would be better to load them in later. One was the shop and browse feature. Another was the spanish version of the website and the medicaid transfers. All three of those issues were pared down in september to not load the system.
While Sebelius was testifying, the healthcare.gov website was down. In common parlance, it had “crashed.”
Sebelius also told the committee that President Barack Obama’s promise that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” had been kept and that individual plans are canceled by insurance companies “year in, year out.” She said that people could “absolutely” keep their insurance plans if they had not changed. She did not acknowledge that many of those plans had changed because Obamacare required changes in those plans.