If the cabinet secretaries from the Obama administration were to appear on Donald Trump's "The Apprentice,"there is no doubt that Trump would first fire U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The continuing debacle associated with the Obamacare exchange rollout is a clear indication that it is time for Secretary Sebelius to resign.
U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., expressed his frustration with the secretary's actions and asked for her resignation. He stated: "Today we know, the problems with the exchanges are systematic, profound and indisputable. And yet the secretary won't shoot straight with the American people."
Sebelius was willing to take the political heat of dealing with a broken website rather than having to once again delay another component of Obamacare. She refused to listen to the IT experts who expressed serious concerns about the launch as early as March of 2013. Henry Chao, deputy chief information officer said in a meeting that he was "pretty nervous"about the exchanges being ready for October 1. Prior to the launch, one insurance executive also stated, "the extent of the problems was pretty enormous."
Yet the American people are forced to settle for mediocrity from their leaders who play political games rather than deliver effective products.
While developing and implementing a complex system can be challenging, Sebelius should have admitted to the American people that the exchanges were simply not ready for primetime.
In a speech this week, Sebelius acknowledged that the rollout has been "rocky."A better word would have been disastrous. How can an entity offer a program or product that fails to fully function? Based on my past life as a system analyst for Andersen Consulting, a corporation would have never allowed such a faulty product to be released to the public. The client would ensure the website was completely functional after endless hours of beta testing.
A slow moving bureaucracy and a massive system implementation is a recipe for disaster and, quite frankly, someone needs to be accountable for its failure to launch effectively.
Despite the warnings from the IT experts, the administration continued to pour hundreds of millions of dollars, more than it had planned, into the website with little success. Throughout this process, Sebelius has shown irresponsibility and lack of accountability, especially knowing that they were not ready to launch.
Now do you wonder why a majority of Americans are deeply concerned with how Obamacare will be implemented in the future? If these errors and technical glitches continue, it shows that the government is simply not equipped to handle the influx of enrollees to the program.
The White House's goal is to enroll 7 million Americans in the first year. But ask Sebelius, and she has no idea how many people have enrolled. In the first week, Kantar US Insight demonstrated that less that 1 percent of those who entered the website were able to complete the enrollment process. After two weeks, only 23 people in South Dakota have signed up for the government health insurance online.
Individuals who have attempted to apply encounter "blank screens, error messages and account log-ins that don't work."With such technical difficulties, many more Americans will be discouraged and simply give up applying if the website continues to experience such massive problems.
Even Jon Stewart, an Obama supporter who interviewed Sebelius on "The Daily Show," stated that the issues with Obamacare have been "frustrating"due to "level of the incompetence.”
Problems continue for Sebelius. Even three weeks after the failed launch, the federal health-care exchanges are creating incorrect data causing insurance companies to scramble and hire additional staff to contact those few individuals who were able to submit their applications.
We should all be concerned that the White House has stated that the president has full confidence in Sebelius' leadership. She clearly cannot manage a broad implementation of a website and was more concerned about the political backlash of delaying the rollout than admitting the problems ahead of time. More importantly, she refuses to take the blame for the disastrous implementation process. The American people should not be forced to deal with her incompetence and arrogance and deserve better leadership from their government.