Many have called for Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius' resignation over the rocky Obamacare rollout. Many Americans have tried and failed to buy insurance through the exchanges because the federal website has so many glitches. But Sebelius isn't throwing in the towel. Her brother, Donald Gilligan, tells The New York Times, "The fact that people are calling for her head does not surprise her or alarm her particularly."
Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, who voted to confirm Sebelius as secretary (and who is a longtime friend of her family), explicitly said, "We need new leadership." He also accused her of "gross incompetence." The Obama administration's goal is to have 500,000 people sign up for the Obamacare exchanges by the end of October, according to an internal memo obtained by the Associated Press. But the online marketplace glitches could prevent the administration from hitting that number. Sebelius and the HHS Department have not revealed current enrollment numbers. The secretary said Wednesday, "I am the first to admit that the launch was rockier than we would have liked." But she hopes people who have tried to sign up and failed will "come back" and try again.
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus wrote an op-ed for Politico calling for Sebelius to resign:
When pressed on her failures, Sebelius repeats her favorite line: “We had some early glitches.” A glitch, says Merriam-Webster, is “temporary” and “minor.” For two weeks, the Obamacare website has hardly functioned. That’s not minor or temporary. That’s not a glitch; that’s a systemic failure.
But it's not only Republicans who've criticized HHS management. Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary, said this week, "when they get it fixed, I hope they fire some people that were in charge of making sure that this thing was supposed to work." An anonymous former White House official told The New Yorker, "The whole thing needed a real manager with experience."
President Obama said earlier in the month, "A couple of weeks ago, Apple rolled out a new mobile operating system, and within days, they found a glitch, so they fixed it. I don’t remember anybody suggesting Apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads or threatening to shut down the company if they didn’t." But The Washington Post's Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas responded, "If Apple launched a major new product that functioned as badly as Obamacare's online insurance marketplace, the tech world would be calling for Tim Cook's head."
And Republican members of Congress are definitely calling for Sebelius'. Still, the secretary's sister Ellen Gilligan told the Times, “The White House is smart enough to know that if she steps aside or they ask her to resign, they will never get anybody else confirmed. Plus, I don’t think they hold her responsible." So it appears that the Sebelius will stick around and try to clean up the mess.