WASHINGTON–U.S. President Barack Obama has claimed “full responsibility” for repairing his administration’s health insurance website as a new concern emerged: a government memo pointing to security worries, written shortly before the site’s Oct. 1 launch.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologized Wednesday to frustrated people trying to sign up for health coverage, telling a congressional committee she is accountable for the failures. The website sign-up problems will be fixed by Nov. 30, she said.
Both Obama and Sebelius defended the historic health care overhaul, which seeks to provide millions of Americans with government-mandated health insurance. The United States had been the largest developed nation without a national health care system.
Obama told an audience in Boston, “We are going to see this through.” But he underscored his administration’s unhappiness with the problems so far: “There’s no excuse for it,” he said.”
The website HealthCare.gov was still experiencing outages as Sebelius faced questions from the House Energy and Commerce Committee about a security memo from her department.
The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, said incomplete testing created uncertainties that posed a potentially high security risk for the website. It called for a six-month “mitigation” program, including ongoing monitoring and testing.
It revealed that the troubled website was granted a temporary security certificate on Sept. 27, just four days before it went live.
Republicans argue the troubled website’ glitches are proof the government is incapable of managing the complex health care program.
“You accepted a risk on behalf of every user … that put their personal financial information at risk,” Rep. Mike Rogers told Sebelius, citing the memo. “Amazon would never do this. … This is completely an unacceptable level of security.”
Sebelius countered that the system is secure. Added spokeswoman Joanne Peters: “When consumers fill out their online … applications, they can trust that the information they’re providing is protected by stringent security standards and that the technology underlying the application process has been tested and is secure.”
Republicans opposed to Obama’s health care law are calling for Sebelius to resign.