[NATL Feature Page]Affordable Care Act

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Affordable Care Act Enrollment Begins

Kathleen Sebelius Talks Health Care Marketplace Problems

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    NEWSLETTERS

    At North Shore Medical Center, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius walked into a room with health navigators attempting to enroll patients Tuesday. NBC 6's Diana Gonzalez reports. (Published Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013)

    At North Shore Medical Center, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius walked into a room with health navigators attempting to enroll patients. The computer screen read: "Sorry our system is temporarily down." She didn't address it.

    "We submitted the application, we were waiting on eligibility results when the website went down" said health navigator Islara Soto.

    Exactly seven weeks ago was the disastrous launch of the government's health care marketplace.

    "If I had known then what I know now, we probably would have made a different call. We picked Oct. 1 because by statute I was directed to pick a date when open enrollment was going to start," said Sebelius.

    Sebelius and others were warned of potential problems back in early April, according to a document uncovered by the energy and commerce committee's investigation into the problem-plagued launch.

    The PowerPoint presentation by McKinsey and Company shows as a critical risk, marketplaces unavailable with system failure. The report suggested a gradual launch and concluded the time and scope of testing was insufficient.

    "We were hopeful that testing that we did and we did some end to end testing would be sufficient. It clearly wasn't and on balance made a decision to move ahead," said Sebelius.

    So they stuck with the Oct. 1 start date. Sebelius said she considered the lead time people would need in order to sign up.

    "We were hoping to maximize and have a flow through that worked. Clearly that was a bad call," said Sebelius.

    After she left the health center, navigators were successful in enrolling some people.

    Sebelius says her goal is to finish the job that she started. There is still no official talk of changing the deadline in light of all the technical problems.

    For complete coverage of the Affordable Care Act implementation as well as tools, calculators, state-by-state information and a detailed FAQ, visit our ACA section.