MEMPHIS — Kathleen Sebelius brushed off questions Friday about reports saying only six people signed up for coverage on the first day of the Obamacare website’s operation.
Speaking at a library in Memphis as part of an effort to encourage healthcare sign ups in the city, Sebelius said she didn’t know where that figure came from and that the government doesn’t have “reliable enrollment figures yet.”
“I don’t pay a lot of attention to these early reports, because the system was flawed,” she said, adding that the flaws were partly because of demand. “This is month one. We’re in football season now, and this is the first quarter. A lot of folks want to declare game over. I don’t know where those figures came from, but we’ll be giving out comprehensive figures once a month.”
Those government figures, she said, would start coming out in a few weeks.
“There is nobody more frustrated with the website than I am,” she said. “We should have done better.”
She told community leaders the public needs to be reminded that the website does not function like Amazon.com, where customers are used to logging on to buy a product “like a Tickle Me Elmo doll” before someone else gets it. In this case, Sebelius said, the service is constant and doesn’t run out.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) who invited Sebelius to the city, bristled at some of the questions she was asked, saying “Change is hard. Get over it. Barack Obama is president, and the Affordable Care Act is the law.”
In the crowd was Republican state Sen. Brian Kelsey, the sponsor of a bill to block Medicaid expansion in Tennessee scheduled to be heard in January. He tried to give Sebelius a copy of the book “Websites for Dummies,” which she appeared to hold briefly.