Speeches & Floor Statements

Floor speech: Calling for the resignation of Kathleen Sebelius over Obamacare

Posted on October 29, 2013

         The president should ask the secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, to resign her position because of the disastrous rollout of Obamacare. 

            Taxpayers have spent $400 million to create exchanges that -- after 3 1/2 years -- still don't work.  As a result, the White House had to announce last night that the key enforcement mechanism to their individual mandate -- a $95 fine that increases every year -- will be waived until the end of March of next year.  That may be fine for those currently without insurance, but for the millions being forced into the exchanges and losing their current insurance, there is no relief, just higher prices, a likely lapse in insurance coverage, a broken website, and broken promises.

            We already know of 1.5 million Americans who are losing their policies because starting January 1, many insurance policies they now have will not be legal under Obamacare, and if the exchange is not working, they will not be able to choose another policy on that exchange. 

            This chart gives an example of what is going on.  Just in three states -- California, Florida, and New Jersey -- there are 1.4 million insurance policies that will not be valid after January 1 because they are not legal under Obamacare. Compare that number, 1.4 million, to the number of Americans in those three states who have reportedly applied or enrolled on the website for insurance, 7 or 8 percent of all the people who will lose their current policy have applied for a different policy through the exchange.  That is what is going on with families across this country as people worry about health care.

            These are policies in the individual market.  There are 19 million Americans in the individual market.  We also heard on NBC News over the last couple of days that the Obama administration knew that 47 to 60 percent of the policies in the individual market would not be legally offered under Obamacare.  Yet they still said to people:  "If you like your insurance, you can keep it."

            At some point there has to be accountability.  Expecting this secretary to be able to fix what she has not been able to fix during the last 3 1/2 years is unrealistic.  It is throwing good money after bad.  It is time for her to resign and for someone else to take charge.  No private sector chief executive would escape accountability after such a poor performance.

            The principle of accountability is not and should not be foreign to the public sector.

            Admiral Hyman Rickover, father of the nuclear navy, told his submarine captains they were not only accountable for their ships, they were also accountable for the nuclear reactors on their ships. If anything went wrong with the reactor, their career in the Navy was over, the admiral said.  As a result of that dose of accountability, since the 1950s, there has never been a death as a result of a problem with a nuclear naval submarine reactor.

            Americans deserve that kind of accountability in the implementation of the new health care law. Instead, the secretary appears not even to have told the president about known problems with the Obamacare website in the months and days leading up to the launch.  Despite repeated requests, she has refused to tell Congress or the public the reasons the Obamacare website continues to fail, while insisting on more time and an undisclosed amount of money to fix it.

            Before the Internet, RCA knew how many records Elvis was selling every day, Ford knew how many cars they were selling every day, and McDonald's could tell us how many hamburgers they were selling each day.  Yet, here we are in the advanced stages of the Internet age and, under Secretary Sebelius's leadership, the Obama administration will not tell us how many Americans have tried to sign up for Obamacare, or how many have actually signed up, or what level of insurance they have purchased, or in what ZIP Code they live.  Not only will they not tell us, they have done their best to keep us from finding out.

            With WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden spilling our beans every day, what is happening on the Obamacare exchanges is the best-kept secret left in Washington, DC.  The National Security Agency could learn some lessons from Secretary Sebelius.

            Later today I will ask unanimous consent to approve a six-page bill I introduced yesterday to require the administration to answer these questions every week.  Secretary Sebelius is not responsible for enacting Obamacare, but she has been responsible for 3 1/2 years for implementing it.  Now many Americans have only a few weeks to purchase new insurance or be without health insurance.  To expect the secretary to correct in a few weeks what she has not been able to do in 3 1/2 years is unrealistic.

            It is time for the president to ask the secretary of health and human services to resign. 

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