Obamacare Problems 'Ridiculous,' 'Unacceptable,' 'Off to a Rough' Start, Say Liberals

By Susan Jones | October 21, 2013 | 7:19 AM EDT

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Barack Obama. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) - Liberal Republicans and Democrats weighed in on Obamacare over the weekend, saying that problems with the website must be fixed. But none of them called for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's to resign.

Sebelius reportedly has refused to appear at a congressional hearing on Thursday to explain the dysfunctional online health care exchanges.

"Listen, ultimately, Secretary Sebelius will testify before Congress," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told "Fox News Sunday." "You know that. I don't know the circumstances with this last-minute, let's-do-it-in-a-few-days," he said, referring to the Oct. 24 hearing called by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

As for the law itself, Durbin said, "I think it's on its way to being a substantial success. It's off to a rough start with the website," he admitted.

On ABC's "This Week," Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said what has happened with the Obamacare health exchanges "is unacceptable in terms of the glitches."

She said the online exchanges were "overwhelmed to begin with," although reports say the problems go much deeper than volume alone. Pelosi said the technical problems have to be fixed -- but "what doesn't have to be fixed is the fact that tens of millions more people will have access to affordable quality health care..."

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told CNN's "State if the Union" that the rollout of the Obamacare exchanges has been "a fiasco."

NcCain's suggestion: "Send Air Force One out to Silicon Valley, load it up with some smart people, bring them back to Washington and fix this problem. It's ridiculous and everybody knows that."

But McCain did not call for Sebelius to resign: "Well, let's have congressional hearings, let's find out who was responsible for this fiasco and then take the appropriate action, in my view. But this is just the beginning of the problems associated with a massive restructuring of one-fifth of our economy. And there's going to be a whole lot more problems associated with this before it's done. That's why we Republicans have to keep up the fight, but we have to rifle shot it rather than a -- take -- go at it with a meat ax, which cannot succeed."

McCain agreed that "rifle shot" means trying to repeal parts of Obamacare rather than killing the entire thing.

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) also hedged on whether President Obama should replace Sebelius: "Well, I think that may become an option. I'm not a fan of those immediate calls for people to resign, but I think in this case, actions like the one you just outlined (website dysfunction) are going to make it harder and harder for her to do her job effectively."

Rubio called the lack of "transparency" regarding the online Obamacare exchanges "very concerning," and he said Sebelius' refusal to testify "is undermining her credibility."

"And there may come a point -- now, perhaps we're not there today -- but there may come a point where in fact, she will have to resign, largely because she no longer has the credibility to do the job."

As for administration reports that more than 476,000 people have filed applications in the exchanges, Rubio noted that applying is not the same thing as enrolling.

"And that is a very relevant matter, because if enough people don't sign up for these exchanges, the rates on these exchanges are going to be astronomical. And they're going to undermine the entire private health insurance industry in the country."

The exchanges require people to fill out an application before enrolling, to see if they qualify for subsidies.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation," called Obamacare "a continuing debacle."

Graham said that debacle will continue into 2014, but he added that shutting down the government to defund Obamacare "should be in our rear-view mirrors as Republicans."

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