WASHINGTON — Democratic Montana Sen. Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee that helped write the Obamacare legislation, asked Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius Wednesday why the agency did not just shut down the stuttering HealthCare.gov website, fix it, and then put it back online again.
“Why keep limping along? Why not just shut it down until it is put together the way it should be put together?” Baucus has asked.
“We also know that every day there is a story that someone did not get on, blank page, security problems; that is a bad media campaign,” Baucus went on. “It is negative, it does not help you, it hurts you. Why not have it shut down and just have one bad story, and then for as long as it takes, a couple of weeks, go back and get that gateway up and running?”
“Why not shut it down and do it right?” he concluded.
Sebelius responded that she was following the advice of the various technicians involved in the fixing the website.
“I am relying on the advice not only of the inside team and contractors, but a lot of the outside experts who have come in to take a look at this system, and they did a number of things along the way. They did a series of diagnostics, looked at the entire system and determined at the outset that HealthCare.gov is fixable, that it is not fatally flawed, which was the initial report from many people,” she said.
Sebelius said health officials had on numerous occasions discussed whether it would be better to shut down the website.
“We have been advised that that actually does not help, that it is better to do routine operations,” she said.
Addressing the question in her opening statement before it was asked, Sebelius had a more emotional appeal.
“Delaying the Affordable Care Act would not delay people’s cancer, diabetes, or Parkinson’s. … People’s lives depend on this,” she said.
“Delay is not an option,” Sebelius said.