The head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was in Austin Friday. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promised that the contractors who helped build the troubled insurance Marketplace website will be held accountable. Her promise comes amid calls for her resignation.
Texas was chosen for this multi-city tour because it's estimated that one in four who live in the state lack insurance coverage. But critics say the visit, by Sebelius is all about damage control.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius toured the Community Unity Care East Austin health clinic to promote Obamacare success stories. But the troubles with a key part of the president's signature program could not be denied.
"Healthcare.gov the website is far from perfect, it is getting better every day," said Sebelius.
It's getting better because a new team of computer techs has been hired to get the site running correctly. FOX 7 asked why she decided not to delay the October 1 launch especially after the administration reportedly was warn of potential problems this past summer by the original programmers.
"Well actually I didn't realize it would not be operating optimally before the launch," said Sebelius.
Sebelius may have to repeat that answer when she eventually testifies before Congress. As well as explain this defiant statement made on Thursday.
"The majority of people calling for me to resign I would say are people I don't work for and who do not want this program to work in the first place," said Sebelius.
In a written statement Texas Senator John Cornyn fired back saying:
"If she's still confused about who exactly she works for and if she hasn't come (to Texas) ready to answer questions about why hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on a botched product, she might as well not visit."
At the Austin clinic Sebelius was asked if anyone including her would ever be held accountable.
"Well I think the most important thing is, fix it," said Sebelius.
There are other ways to enroll other than the website. You can call and talk to an application counselor or fill out the paperwork yourself and mail it in. There's time the enrollment process is set to close in late March but that could change considering the online problems.
The Community Unity Care East Austin location along Comal is just one of several sites in Travis County where the enrollment process can be done. At all of the locations in the area, there have been successes and also a few headaches.
Over 1,600 people have been screened so far by the 11 application counselors at Community Unity Care. Of that number 146 were ruled eligible for government tax subsidies. During her visit Secretary Sebelius met a man who was trying to enroll as well as with Kat Richards and Mark Sullivan two clients who have completed the enrollment process.
"It wasn't easy, but for health insurance it was worth my time, I tried basically everyday it was open and eventually I got through 15 days in," said Richards who added the policy she found is more affordable than the options she had before the Marketplace was created.
John Davidson, a health policy analyst with the conservative watch dog group, Texas Public Policy Foundation, was also at the tour and wasn't impressed.
"The real problem isn't with the technical problems with on the website the technical glitches, those will get fixed eventually the real problem is the structure of the law that forces young healthy people to pay more for insurance to pay for more older and sicker people, it's a straight up redistribution scheme," said Davidson.
In a statement released late Friday Texas Senator Ted Cruz echoed that point and also said.
"We must focus our immediate efforts on bringing relief to working people hurt by Obamacare by staying true to health care's first principle: first do no harm."
Meanwhile Secretary Sebelius will try to undo the damage caused by that glitchy website.