Kathleen Sebelius, health and human services secretary, appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” to promote Healthcare.gov, the website and health insurance marketplace established as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), what is colloquially known as Obamacare. However what was waiting for her was “The Daily Show” host, Jon Stewart, who was quick to criticize the glitchy rollout of the Obamacare marketplace.
Stewart opened the interview in jest, “We’re going to do a challenge. I’m going to try and download every movie ever made, you are going to try to sign up for Obamacare. We’ll see which happens first.”
While Sebelius went through the general talking points about Obamacare, Stewart stopped her briefly, asking her how many people have signed up for Obamacare.
Sebelius explained that she couldn’t give a clear answer to how many people were “fully” enrolled.
“Fully enrolled? I can’t tell you, because I don’t know. We’re taking applications on the web and on the phone. We’ll be giving monthly reports. But I can tell you we’ve had not only lots of web hits, hundreds of thousands of accounts created."
Stewart quickly got Sebelius to clarify that she said only hundreds of thousands of accounts were created, but not necessarily fully enrolled.
Continuing with the interview, Stewart also criticized the fact that businesses were granted exemptions for one year from the program, but those same delays were not provided to individuals as well.
“If I’m an individual, I’m wondering -- an individual who doesn’t want this, cause there are individuals that clearly want this. But If I’m an individual that doesn’t want it, it would be hard for me to look at a big business getting a waiver and not having to do it and me having to,” Stewart said, in criticism of the exemption. He continued, “But I would feel like you were favoring big business because they lobbied you to delay it this year, but you’re not allowing individuals that same courtesy.”
Sebelius continued to dodge the question by repeating talking points with Stewart, saying, “Still not sure why individuals can’t delay,” before cutting into a commercial break.
Regarding his aggressive questioning, Stewart explained, “It feels like it's frustrating to have to defend something that’s less than ideal or is functioning at a level of incompetence that is larger than it should be.”
He continued, “I don’t understand the idea of staying with a market-based solution, for a problem where people can’t be smart consumers. There are too many externalities in health care.”
At the end of the interview Sebelius continued to repeat her talking points, with Stewart clearly looking like he wasn’t even remotely convinced by her at all.
Watch the full interview in the videos above.