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Rep. Reid Ribble calls for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to resign

Nov. 13, 2013
 
U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood.
U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood. / Post-Crescent photo by Dan Powers

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WASHINGTON — Rep. Reid Ribble has had it with the glitch-plagued federal health care website.

The Sherwood Republican indicated Tuesday that heads should roll, starting with that of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

“On Sept. 30th, the Obama Admin knew the website could only handle 1,100 users. Americans deserve better,” he tweeted on his official account. “It’s time for Sec. Sebelius to go.”

His call for her resignation came after The Wall Street Journal reported that fewer than 50,000 people have been able to navigate the site and sign up for health insurance — only a fraction of the 500,000 that had been expected to in October.

It’s unclear how many of those are from Wisconsin, where about 77,000 people are being purged from Medicaid rolls and must buy insurance on the federal exchange before Dec. 15 if they want coverage beginning Jan. 1.

Anecdotal reports from insurance executives in the state indicate that the number of signups may be only a few thousand at most.

Ribble is not the first member of the Wisconsin delegation to urge Sebelius to step down. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, called for her resignation last month after the botched rollout.

“If you’re in charge of bringing in one of the biggest laws we’ve had in a generation, effectively taking over 18 percent of our economy, you claim it’s going to be on time, you’re given warnings that it isn’t and then you do it anyway, I think people should be held responsible,” he said at the time.

So far, Sebelius does not appear to be going anywhere. White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that President Barack Obama has “full confidence in Secretary Sebelius.”

“I think the president himself pointed out why, which is that she has undertaken a very difficult challenge, which is, in a difficult political environment, put in place insurance marketplaces that are producing results for people,” he said, adding that people across the country have been able to buy insurance at low rates.

“There are many Republicans, you'll remember, who doubted whether that was even possible,” Earnest said. “The fact of the matter is that has been a strong success in states all across the country, and that’s a testament to the hard work of Secretary Sebelius.”

dslack@usatoday.com and @donovanslack

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