Somewhere along the way of the disaster that has been Obamacare, people began suggesting: hey, why doesn't the White House just delay the Affordable Care Act until the website sorts itself out? (Cue Republican cheering.) On Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius nixed that option: delaying Obamacare or removing HealthCare.gov until it’s fixed, she insisted, won't solve any problems. "Delaying the Affordable Care Act wouldn't delay people's cancer or diabetes or Parkinson's," Sebelius told the Senate Finance Committee. "For millions of Americans, delay is not an option."
In a hearing Wednesday, Sebelius answered to a line of senators who had serious questions about both Healthcare.gov's technical issues and the health insurance plans that have been cancelled. Sebelius admitted: “We are not where we need to be," but remained confident in the Affordable Care Act’s ability to work well, despite the ambitious plan to have everything fixed by the end of November.
Sebelius acknowledged that it has been a "miserable five weeks" since HealthCare.gov launched on Oct. 1, but she said that the administration's team and outside experts have both said that taking the site down wouldn't be worth it. Those experts said that some improvements should be made while the system is running, while others should be done during routine maintenance outages.
Everyone’s frustrations with Healthcare.gov are shifting into a growing discontent for the Affordable Healthcare Act itself. While one is a piece of legislation and the other is a resource in order for said legislation to work, people are starting to see them interchangeably. According to a Washington Post/ABC poll, 56 percent of Americans think that the website’s tech glitches are part of a broader problem with the law's implementation. But Sebelius and the rest of the bill’s supporters are steadfast on keeping the law in place.
"Given the fact the various fixes -- particularly functionality fixes -- the code has to be written in batches, it's been advised you don't gain much for taking the whole system down for a week, a couple weeks," Sebelius said.
Sebelius does make a valuable point: prolonging Americans’ access to more health care options would not put off their sicknesses. However faulty Healthcare.gov has been thus far, plenty of people are in need of the new law. The website’s functioning — or, more accurately, lack thereof — shouldn't impact the functioning of the Affordable Care Act itself, which, remember, is less one website than a huge overhaul of America's healthcare system.