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Why They Rolled Out Website Despite Warnings

By the time U.S. Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius arrived at North Shore Medical Center in Miami on Tuesday, Jacquie Basha had already been there for a couple of hours on her quest for health insurance that began seven weeks ago. 

Over a long period of daily attempts with the web site, she had opened an account, shopped for a policy and gotten a price. Finally, with the help of health care navigators on duty for the Sebelius visit, Basha got her health insurance. 

"Any really worthwhile program that affects millions of people, it’s going to take time as did social security and Medicare, and I think people need to give it a chance. And I think eventually it’s going to be great," Sebelius said.

"There are two additional Floridians who now have coverage today who started out the day without health coverage," Sebelius said. 

Sebelius celebrated the small steps and stuck to talking points. She said the website is now on a "constant improvement plan" and people can expect what she called "a different customer experience" if they visit now.

She admitted that consultants had warned the administration that the website was sketchy well before the rollout. It went forward, she said, because the problems the consultants told them to watch for didn't materialize. But other problems did. 

"If I had known then what I know now, we probably would have made a different call," Sebelius said.

Sebelius said 3.5 million Floridians could benefit from the health insurance marketplace. But it won’t cover them all. According to the secretary, 1.9 million state residents -- too poor for the exchanges -- will remain uninsured until the state expands its Medicaid program.