Kathleen Sebelius weighed in on Monday, with an op-ed in USA Today, on the new and improved online federal exchange. The Health and Human Services secretary said the site today constitutes a ”dramatic improvement” over where it was on October 1, but doesn’t quite express full confidence in its ability to do what it is supposed to do.
In a message that echoes what administration officials have been telling the public for the past two months, she said, “You may want to visit HealthCare.gov in off-peak hours when there is less traffic — mornings, evenings, or on weekends.” And she continued to urge people to seek out alternate methods to sign up for coverage: via the federal hotline, in person with a navigator, or using a paper application.
Sebelius’s remarks underscore Sunday’s comments by Jeffrey Zeints, the administration official overseeing the fixes to the botched website, who said that traffic to the site in the coming weeks may surpass its new capacity as consumers rush to meet the new December 23 deadline to sign up for coverage that begins January 1.
Above all, Sebelius pleaded, “Please do not give up.” Her piece is another piece of evidence that while the Zeints and his colleagues have managed to improve the site, even the most ardent proponents of the law remain on the defensive, and uneasy about its ability to do the job.