Sebelius Brings Health Care Talk to Town

By Andy Meek

Forty-eight hours after a congressional committee grilled her over problems related to the new health insurance website, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was in Memphis, flanked by defenders.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was in Memphis Friday to discuss health care and the beleaguered insurance website. Tennessee Sen. Brian Kelsey (in gray suit behind Sebelius) later tweeted: “Just presented Sec Sebelius with 'Websites for Dummies.'" Sebelius is seen here with the book before handing it off to an aide.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, told press gathered Friday, Nov. 1, for the secretary’s visit to the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library that “change is hard” but, “Get over it. Barack Obama is president, and the Affordable Care Act is the law.”

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. thanked the secretary for “the valiant fight you’re leading.”

Cohen invited Sebelius here to encourage participation in an education and enrollment event at the library. It’s an outreach effort that also is bigger than the library, taking place community-wide with volunteers on hand offering information about the health care law’s benefits.

The government’s website has been beset with technical problems preventing insurance sign-ups, and Sebelius appeared contrite about the problem in Memphis, saying about the website, “We should have been ready.”

“But we need to remind people that people are getting through” now, she added.

Said Wharton, “This is Nov. 1, just one month into a six-month enrollment process. This is not a doomsday scenario. We’re just beginning. I don’t think for those who have waited a lifetime for this that we should take 30 days and pass judgment.”

A line of protestors, most carrying anti-abortion signs, was arrayed directly in front of the library for Sebelius’ visit.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander called for her resignation prior to her visit and released a statement saying, “The secretary is always welcome in Tennessee, but her time would be better spent in Washington fixing the Obamacare website.”