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Letter to Sebelius: Take Control of the Message

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, November 20, 2013

Amidst the healthcare.gov debacle, let's not lose sight of what is really important—access to affordable health insurance. Please start doing a better job of controlling your agency's message about the public's access to health insurance.


Kathleen Sebelius


Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of HHS

Dear Secretary Sebelius:

To paraphrase Shakespeare, if ever there was a season of discontent in our nation, this is it. Almost everyone is angry, and rightly so, about the kick-off of healthcare.gov. It is one big mess and it seems as if every day brings another startling revelation.

On Monday we learned that there were signs of problems on healthcare.gov way back in April. That's when McKinsey & Company sat down with officials from the White House, along with you and CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner to discuss its report—written at the behest of the White House—about the potential shortcomings with the website. Many of which, as we all know, sadly came to fruition.

On Tuesday we were informed that now, seven weeks post-launch, technical development of the health insurance marketplace's website is still 30% – 40% incomplete.

Earlier this month we found out that amid low enrollment numbers and the defection of Tony Trenkle, chief information officer and director of the office of Information Services, the White House is "increasing its reliance on insurers" by accepting their technical help in efforts to repair" the site.

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2 comments on "Letter to Sebelius: Take Control of the Message"


Tyco Brahe (11/21/2013 at 12:42 PM)
The ACA, of course is not a mess, yet the GOP wants to drill that message into our heads. Right now, it's a glitchy website that it is getting better each day. States that created their own websites are doing just fine, which shows that it's the website, not the concept of the exchange that is the problem. The website affects the way only 15% of the country will get health insurance (Again, the GOP wants you to think we're all affected). Considering the GOP has presented absolutely no alternative, it is advocating that we keep the pre-ACA health care system, which is bankrupting the nation and individual Americans. The website will get fixed. Life will go on.

Robin Benton (11/20/2013 at 7:31 PM)
Actually, taking control of the message and putting another spin on this mess is the last thing the American People need right now. That has been the problem from the beginning...it was not about what was best for the American people, but who was going to be the best at doing a grande restructuring of 1/6 of our economy. If the policy is sound, people will enroll (once the website is up) but as I suspect, people who don't like the one-size fits all approach to healthcare, aren't eligible for a subsidy and find the cost of the plans too high, the out of pocket costs out of reach and their doctors out of network won't be happy. It will not just be a website that needs fixing but rather the policy itself. Most people are willing to see everyone have access to the financial protections that insurance provides to those who either can't afford it or who can't get insurance. ACA does not provide access to healthcare, only insurance which may or may not be accepted by the providers. However, forcing people who had insurance plans they liked to now go into a plan they would not have [INVALID]ed or can't afford just [INVALID]s a bigger problem. You are swapping those who had insurance into becoming the problem this law was trying to solve. Our government needs to learn to work together to come up with a viable solution to this mess and Ms. Sebelius who was not elected by the American people needs to learn she is accountable for her actions when they are not in the best interest of ALL Americans[INVALID]not just those who didn't have insurance.