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CNN "Newsroom" - Transcript: Affordable Care Act Website and Kathleen Sebelius

Interview

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Date:
Location: Unknown

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COSTELLO: Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas joins me now live from Washington. Good morning, Congresswoman.

REPRESENTATIVE SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Good morning, very glad to be with you this morning.

COSTELLO: Glad you're here with me. I know you've said we need to stop talking about firing someone and start talking about fixing the web site. But I mean, come on, shouldn't Kathleen Sebelius be fired?

LEE: This issue is about saving yourself. Last week 144 members of the republican conference, the Republicans voted to keep the government shutdown and as everyone in American knows that was a Republican shutdown of the government for 17 days. Now with the light shining, Republicans want to make a political stand on whether Obama care is helping Americans. And Americans now are growing steadily more --

COSTELLO: If I could interrupt. I'm talking about Kathleen Sebelius and the dreadful roll-out of the Obamacare exchanges. Shouldn't someone be held accountable for that? And the woman at the top would be Kathleen Sebelius.

LEE: And I think the president has the faith in the secretary of HHS in spite of the mountains and valleys that we had to go through. The 45 percent of the American people are beginning to see in a positive view of Obamacare. That number is going to grow. California has enrolled already 94,000 people. Governor of Ohio, Republican governor, has now gotten his wish with expanded Medicaid for Ohio. Celebrate him. That means more poor people will be able to get health insurance. This program is not about politics, carol. It's about helping people get --

COSTELLO: I'm not talking about politics. I'm saying, it's been a dreadful roll-out of these exchanges. It's made Obamacare look bad. Why shouldn't someone's head roll for that? Really, shouldn't anyone be held accountable?

LEE: You know I'm not going to step away from the word "accountable." we're going to do that. Right now I believe it's important that the task, the team that is working around the clock or working at night to fix these problems, I think that's a good news story that we should talk about. And with respect to a roll-out, there was a roll-out of a number of navigators and outreach efforts, all that is going well. People are learning more and more information about the decisions that they to make -- the 1-800 number is just buzzing with 30,000 calls, 20 seconds in wait. There are many ways to be able to engage and find out about the affordable care act.

COSTELLO: But wouldn't it send a message to the American people that he has this under control if someone pays a price for the dreadful roll-out?

LEE: I think he was very much in control when he was in the Rose Garden and indicated how mad he was and that he wanted people to jump and really stay in the air until this got fixed. I don't think anyone doubts the president's sensitivities about what is happening. And he is the president of the United States. He's head of this nation. He'll make those decisions maybe ultimately down the road.

I don't think the secretary should be fired. She's out on the road and helped bring in a task force. I'll be sending a letter adding additional names and recommendations of people I've run across so that as many people as we can find to focus their attention on this issue. That's the crux of this issue, not about who is going to be fired.

COSTELLO: Let me put it this way. Kathleen Sebelius told Sanjay Gupta that President Obama did not know about the problems until a few days into the launch. How can that be? If I was responsible of putting my boss' signature program on line and I didn't tell him there were problems and I left him in the dark, my boss would be really angry at me and maybe even fear my.

LEE: What I would say to you, is you're absolutely right. And President Obama was adamant (ph) as he could possibly be. And I would imagine that the thought processes, right or wrong was, we can fix this for the boss. The boss is focused on the government shutdown. As you well-known, it started being shut down between September 30th and October 1st.

So I imagine what they thought was, we can fix this, we've been working on this. We know technology problems will come about, but we're ready to fix it. And the boss has a lot of other issues. I don't think it was a hide and seek game. It wasn't anything to keep the president from knowing. He's enormously engaged with his cabinet officers.

But if you don't have anything to talk about, as my good friends, all you have to talk about it is the bad, bad, posture you're in as known as the government shutdown, then you've got to find something that will uplift you. And frankly the American people have moved on. The 45 percent are having a favorable view.

More are going to get online and use the phone calls. I know my seniors and others in my community, everyone I went over the weekend they were raging and excited about the opportunity for better health care for them and their families.

COSTELLO: I'll have to leave it there. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, thank you so much for being with me.

LEE: Thank you for having me. Have a good morning.

COSTELLO: You too. We'll be right back.

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