WASHINGTON Oct 26 U.S. Health and Human
Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, besieged by bad news about
the new government health care website, sought on Saturday to
highlight a portion of the complex system that she said is
The website, designed to let millions of uninsured Americans
shop and enroll in health insurance, has been plagued by delays
and error messages since it rolled out on Oct. 1, embarrassing
President Barack Obama as his administration scrambles to fix
In an upbeat blog post on Saturday, Sebelius released
statistics to illustrate the volume of interest in the
Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and the speed of the "data
hub," one piece of the complex system behind HealthCare.gov.
Sebelius praised the performance of the data hub, which
connects to the Social Security Administration and Internal
Revenue Service to verify applicants' identity and income.
She said it took the hub less than 1.2 seconds to route
information, and called it "a model of efficiency and security."
"The Hub is on the job, and so are we," said Sebelius, who
will be grilled about the website by Republican lawmakers at a
hearing on Wednesday.
The hub was developed by Quality Software Services Inc, or
QSSI, a unit of health insurer UnitedHealth Group.
On Friday, the Obama administration announced QSSI would now
serve as "general contractor" to oversee repairs by the end of
November, a step designed to build public confidence that the
website can be salvaged in time for Americans to buy insurance
by the end of the year.
The administration has been criticized for not releasing
data on how many Americans have successfully enrolled for
insurance - information it plans to unveil in November -
although it has said almost 700,000 applications for insurance
have been filled out.
The government expects about 7 million people to enroll for
individual insurance in 2014.
Sebelius said the Social Security Administration has been
pinged by the data hub more than 4.2 million times as
individuals or households try to establish an account using a
social security number, with the biggest numbers coming from
Pennsylvania, New York, California, West Virginia and
The IRS has handled more than 1.3 million requests to verify
income and family size tax data from the hub - about 80,000
requests per day - and has been able to provide responses
through the hub in less than a second, on average, Sebelius
The IRS has also fulfilled more than 330,000 requests for a
"computation service" that determines whether someone is
eligible for subsidies based on their income, she said.