Kathleen Sebelius | News | Obamacare

Sebelius During Obamacare Grilling: 'Don't Do This To Me' - VIDEO


Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius faced a thorough grilling from the House Energy and Commerce Committee over the bumpy rollout of The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the online federal health-care exchange. Despite Sebelius's repeated assertion that she was ultimately responsible for any failures with the ACA, Republican Representative Greg Harper (R-MI) pushed Sebelius, trying to get her to pin the responsibility on President Obama, Mediaite reports:

Mss"I appreciate you accepting responsibility for these initial rollout failures that we’ve had,” Harper began. “But who is ultimately responsible? It is the president, correct?”

“No, sir,” Sebelius said. “We are responsible for the rollout…He’s the president of the United States. I have given him regular reports. I am responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. That’s what he asked me to do.”

“I think it’s great that you’re a team player and taking responsibility,” Harper said after several similar attempts, and then repeated: “It is the president’s ultimate responsibility, correct?”

“You clearly—whatever,” Sebelius said. “Yes, he is the president. He is responsible for government programs.”

The comment quickly caught fire on Twitter, with #whatever beginning to trend almost immediately after Sebelius made her remarks.

Mediaite also points out that Sebelius drew the ire of Colorodan congressman Cory Gardner (R) who, referring to his own family losing their health coverage, demanded,  “Why aren’t you losing your health insurance? Why aren’t you in the exchange?”:

Colo"When Sebelius explained that she’s part of the federal employees benefit plan, Gardner pushed harder: “You’re literally in charge of this law. Should you be any different than any of the other Americans out there who are losing their insurance today?”

After some more pressing, Sebelius told the congressman: “I am not eligible for the exchange.”

A baffled Gardner replied: “I went into the exchange. You could decide to drop your coverage of your employer. You have the choice.”

“That is not true, sir,” the HHS secretary responded. “If I have affordable coverage in my workplace, I am not eligible to go into the workplace.”

“With all due respect,” Gardner fired back, “I would encourage you to be just like the American people and enter the exchange and agree to find a way to do that.” Applause broke out in the gallery among several members.

“It’s illegal,” the administration official responded.

Following this line of questioning, Sebelius was caught saying, "Don't do this to me" to a colleague at the table with her during a brief break. It appears that Secretary Sebelius was not aware the comment was being picked up by her mic and it is not clear what specifically she was referencing, as Business Insider notes.

Watch videos of some of the more memorable exchanges from today's hearings

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  1. After 43 failed attempts to repeal the law, after shutting down the federal government in a snit and getting their asses whomped by public opinion as a result, after bringing the largest economy on the planet to the brink of catastrophe and changing course only after their betters slapped a bit of sense into them, the Tea Party has latched onto the expected glitches in a very large, very complex and very high traffic website and turning it into a witch hunt.

    These idiots shouldn't be allowed to go out in public, much less sit in Congress.

    Posted by: Gregory in Seattle | Oct 30, 2013 8:49:51 PM

  2. Gardner was the biggest [word I can't use here] of the day. He was exactly the same in the hearing last week.

    I get the feeling these ex-lawyers really feel their oats at these hearings, showing off their old prosecutor/litigator chops.

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Oct 30, 2013 8:55:17 PM

  3. People's insurance plans are being dropped despite promises to the contrary. Regardless of political affiliation, this deception is outrageous. And as evident in the NSA scanda, Benghazi, etc, this seems the modus operandi for the Obama administration.

    Posted by: Jay | Oct 30, 2013 9:04:11 PM

  4. The health care system shouldn't be left to the capitalists. They have the power to say "pay or die" & can determine the price.

    As in most civilized countries, we need to tax everyone a fair amount & provide medical care to all who need it.

    Posted by: JonnyNYNY2FLFL | Oct 30, 2013 9:11:32 PM

  5. Jay, insurance companies and private businesses are entities not under government control. They are free to do what they want, and they have done what they have always done, raised the price or cancelled policies. Obama would have had to have been the dictator so many think he is to have forced insurance companies to perpetually honor policies and not increase rates. Obama's *promise* was about concerns that the ACA itself would *force* people to make a change. To think otherwise is naive.

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Oct 30, 2013 9:17:02 PM

  6. @Johnny,

    Systems like the NHS in the UK routinely deny care to people they think are too old or too ill for an expensive medical treatment. And there are many scandals regarding care or lack thereof. Next door in Canada, many people must wait so long for procedures routine in the U.S., that they actually go to a U.S. medical facility. Healthcare in both countries is absolutely rationed, similar actually to an old American HMO plan or medicaid at a public hospital or clinic. I personally like the French system the best. Germany and a few other Euro countries also have good systems. None of them are strictly single payer like Canada or the UK.

    This so called ObamaCare implementation is a textbook clusterphuk. I think a huge amount of fraud has also occurred, for example why was this firmout of Quebec, with a notorious reputation, chosen for such a monumental project and $huge$ contract?

    Posted by: ratbastard | Oct 30, 2013 9:28:27 PM

  7. I'm glad I don't have any health coverage. Next they'll be mandating vaccines with the insurance.

    Posted by: Kev C | Oct 30, 2013 9:32:18 PM

  8. The novelty has worn off. I was even tickled to see European leaders now complaining to the UN about their previous hero who they prematurely awarded the Nobel Prize to. It's actually hilarious.

    Posted by: MIke | Oct 30, 2013 9:35:46 PM

  9. So Republicans wanted the ACA to fail, and now they're mad that the website rollout isn't working properly? I thought that's what they wanted. Why are they suddenly outraged over something they didn't want in the first place?

    People are so impatient. We've waited on healthcare for decades and now suddenly because a website doesn't work for a couple weeks the sky is falling and it is deemed a failure. All website rollouts experience glitches. I know this because I've worked on several.

    FWIW, I could not get into the site for the first two weeks because it was plagued by high traffic, but this past Sunday I was able to log in, answer all my personal info, shop plans, etc. and never experienced a snag like I did in the first couple of weeks. And on top of that, the Blue Cross policy I was quoted was the same price as the one my employer offers but with WAY lower copays and deductibles. So I think I'll be switching and giving it a shot. If rates change or I experience problems, I can always switch back to the Blue Cross plan offered by my employer next year.

    All this hand-ringing gets so tired. If people would just act calmly and rationally for a few minutes they'd realize the world isn't ending because of the ACA.

    Posted by: Ryan | Oct 30, 2013 9:51:25 PM

  10. I have to wonder what the Republicans' end game is here. What exactly are they hoping to achieve with these hearings, other than a big waste of time and money? (Something at which they seem to excel.)

    If they are hoping to embarrass the Democrats, mission accomplished. They're embarrassed by the glitches in the website and, I understand, working hard to correct them.

    If they are hoping to do away with Obamacare, no chance. They've already voted over 40 times to do that and have gotten exactly nowhere.

    I wish they had put as much time and energy into that debacle of a war that George W. Bush led us into. Where were those WMDs? Over two trillion dollars spent and what exactly do we have to show for it? To say nothing of the 300,000 people who were killed. But by all means, let's talk about glitches in a website.


    Posted by: Len | Oct 30, 2013 10:04:27 PM

  11. "People's insurance plans are being dropped despite promises to the contrary."

    Not true. It was CLEARLY spelled out in the Act and publicly announced in 2010 that if your insurance company's plans did not comply with the Affordable Care Act the insurance company had to replace the plans with plans that did comply. It is the insurance company that is taking advantage of the situation and driving up their premiums to meet the ACA requirements.

    Go with a different insurer and take a package you can afford.

    I signed up with ObamaCare and have exactly what I want at a price that I can afford. It is BETTER than the plan Blue Shield was charging me an arm and leg for. There is no reason to lie to people about the ObamaCare program other than it results in you being little more than a scare monger and liar yourself.

    Posted by: Mike Ryan | Oct 30, 2013 10:05:14 PM

  12. This might be off-topic, but I really don't see why Obama is getting blamed for all this NSA stuff. It started in 2002, or earlier, yet everyone is acting like it was Obabma's masterplan. It seems like it had become routine by the time he came into power, and he just didn't want to change too much. Also, who told you all those countries that are complaining about being spied on, aren't in turn spying on the US? It's easy to cry blue murder when you didn't get caught...

    Posted by: Deee! | Oct 30, 2013 10:06:18 PM

  13. as a sole proprietor, i was informed (by united health care) that my insurance would be discontinued (after 6, paid on time, years) as of Jan. 1 as a result of ACA...

    weeks later, when the the NY Exchange 'estimated' costs were announced, I recieved an email saying i was welcome to continue my current coverage until the annual renewal date (mid-2014).

    quick math proved me that my savings with ACA would be +50% -- and that my current insurance provider would loose out on 6 months of profit.

    my suggestion: be patient, and become educated through research. all the while, may g*d save you from any pre-existing conditions you may or may not be aware of.

    Posted by: my2cents | Oct 30, 2013 10:07:53 PM

  14. The pathetic GOP and Tea Party are so desperate in grabbing attention and power that it will implode in their business-as-usual faces this coming election year. I am so looking forward to the voting slaughter.

    Posted by: Sam | Oct 30, 2013 10:10:57 PM

  15. Dastius and Mike I understand your arguments, yet the President's claims were incompatible with the actual language in the Affordable Care Act. The ACA is the driving force behind the changes and the resulting cancellations.

    I get that many of the insurance "plans" people had were ripoffs and I'm not against the ACA setting higher standards of care. But my gripe is with the inherent deception in the way the administration handles the people's business.

    Posted by: Jay | Oct 30, 2013 10:12:55 PM

  16. Dastius and Mike I understand your arguments, yet the President's claims were incompatible with the actual language in the Affordable Care Act. The ACA is the driving force behind the changes and the resulting cancellations.

    I get that many of the insurance "plans" people had were ripoffs and I'm not against the ACA setting higher standards of care. But my gripe is with the inherent deception in the way the administration handles the people's business.

    Posted by: Jay | Oct 30, 2013 10:13:50 PM

  17. Ratbastard. Do you have personal anecdotal experience of healthcare in the European countries you are referencing ? I grew up in the UK. My entire family received excellent free health all our lives, as and when we needed it. I am really intrigued as to where you are getting your information about NHS Scandals ? The Daily Mail ? The Daily Telegraph ? The fact is NO ONE in the UK will ever go bankrupt because of medical bills. No one in the UK worries when they are diagnosed with a serious illness about how they are going to afford treatment. No unemployed single mother ever has to worry about her child's healthcare. No one stays in a job they hate because they get free healthcare. No one decides to not become a freelancer or start a business because of health insurance premiums. It isn't a perfect system, but you do feel perfectly free under the NHS... Generally in the UK the only people who really have an issue with it are far right rich aristocratic old school conservatives. You are talking about 'rationing ' of healthcare and I am really interested what facts and figures you are using to back up these claims...you say 'routinely' but is that actually true ?

    Posted by: Dave. | Oct 30, 2013 10:24:10 PM

  18. Jay... The only plans that are being discontinued are what are known as "junk" plans that offer very poor coverage. Many people on these plans don't yet realize that they will find much better plans at a comparable cost.

    Posted by: JP | Oct 30, 2013 10:32:27 PM

  19. @ratbastard - Demonstrable lies, told only by Faux Noize and its horde of mindless zombies.

    Posted by: Gregory in Seattle | Oct 30, 2013 10:53:15 PM

  20. It's easy to relate. Like every other adult in public life these days, she finds herself being harassed by petulant children. Having to answer to the ass-wipes is beneath her.

    Posted by: SteveInDE | Oct 30, 2013 11:19:19 PM

  21. It's not a big deal, but Rep. Harper is from Mississippi, abbreviated MS, not MI, which is Michigan.

    Posted by: Joe Clark | Oct 30, 2013 11:33:43 PM

  22. I'm a big ACA supporter and I believe the problems will be worked out. However, just so we're clear about something...we just received a cancellation notice from Kaiser Permanente after 30 years with them. They claim we're 1.4 miles outside their coverage area...and to comply with the new regulations...our police is terminated Nov.30. It's funny because we've been here most of that time and they never had a problem taking our monthly premiums. We're very disappointed that this could happen to us...sort of lost some faith in this administration.

    Posted by: PAUL B. | Oct 31, 2013 12:13:56 AM

  23. The hearing was a farce, but she really needs to get a thicker skin.

    Posted by: Frank | Oct 31, 2013 12:17:33 AM

  24. Why isn't a hearing on recent government shutdown which wasted more tax payer money? Of course the House Republicans don't want to take responsibility. And the money they wasted on the defense of DOMA.

    Posted by: simon | Oct 31, 2013 12:51:05 AM

  25. This wasn't a hearing, it was a lynching.

    Posted by: TomTallis | Oct 31, 2013 1:18:42 AM

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