U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius admitted to Jon Stewart on Monday that she’s not really sure how many people are currently enrolled in Obamacare.
President Barack Obama arrives with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to speak about the Affordable Care Act, his signature health care law, in the Rose Garden at the White House, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. (AP)
“I can’t tell you, because I don’t know” Sebelius said when asked about the enrollment numbers on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."
“But I can tell you we’ve had not only lots of web hits, hundreds of thousands of accounts created,” she said. “This is like a Kayak site, where you might check out what plane you want to get on. The good news is you don’t have to buy it today.”
But that wasn’t the only remark from Sebelius to raise a few eyebrows. In fact, the entire interview was so uncomfortable that Stewart himself joked at the end that he wasn't sure if she's being honest with people.
Stewart at one point asked Sebelius about the White House’s decision to delay the so-called business mandate but not the individual mandate.
“I would think, well jeez, it looks like because I don’t have a lobbying group … You were favoring big business because they lobbied you to delay it,” Stewart said.
Sebelius said that wasn’t true, noting that employers already provide 85 percent of Americans with health insurance.
“Let me ask you this, am I a stupid man?” Stewart asked after Sebelius and he argued back and forth over the Obamacare waivers.
“I don’t think so,” Sebelius said, before saying that people not interested in government-sponsored health insurance can always opt to pay the fine. “The theory is they can’t pick and choose if they’re going to get hit by a bus or diagnosed with an illness."
“I’m still not sure why individuals can’t delay,” Stewart repeated.
He later said that the massive new healthcare law was “functioning at what seems to be a level of incompetence that is larger than what it should be,” adding that some business have even cut work hours to help deal with the cost of Obamacare.
Sebelius said that simply isn’t the case.
“At least the economists, not anecdotal folks, but economists, say there is absolutely no evidence that part-time work is going up. In fact, it’s going down,” she said.
“But there will be people that will end up in difficult times having to spend money they would not have spent, yes? To buy health care if they did not want it,” Stewart asked.
“There are people, who will, yes, pay money,” Sebelius answered.
Stewart then asked why the Obama administration didn’t go for the supposedly simpler single-payer system.
Sebelius said people were already complaining about “the end of the western civilization by having a market-based strategy,” so a single-payer system probably would have been too controversial.
“I think the president did not want to dismantle the health care that 85% of the country had and start all over again,” she said.
Here’s the clip:
Uncomfortable, right? Stewart must have thought so because in a short segment after Sebelius left, he questioned her honesty (language warning):
“I still don’t understand why individuals have to sign up and businesses don’t, because if the businesses, if she’s saying, ‘Well, they get a delay because that doesn’t matter anyway because they already give health care,’ then you think to yourself, ‘Well f--k it, then why do they have to sign up at all?’” Stewart asked. “But then I think to myself, ‘Well, maybe she’s just lying to me — just to me.’”
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