Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was grilled by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" on Monday, where she appeared to address glitches that have plagued the Obamacare website in its first week since going online.
Stewart challenged Sebelius on why individuals aren't able to delay Obamacare, even though businesses have been given that option.
“If I’m if an individual I'm wondering -- well, an individual who doesn't want this because there are individuals clearly that want this -- but if I'm an individual that doesn’t want it, it would be hard for me to look at big business getting a waiver and not having to do it and me having to because I would think, 'geez, it looks like because I don't have a lobbying group,'" Stewart said. "I would feel like you are favoring big business because they lobbied you to delay it because they didn’t want to do this year but you are not allowing individuals that same courtesy.”
"Why is it that individuals, though, couldn’t say they didn’t want to do it just for a year?” Stewart continued.
“Well they can. They pay a fine," Sebelius said. "They pay a fine at the end of the year, but they don't have to -- they can say, 'I don't want to do it.' The theory is they can’t pick and choose if they are hit by a bus or diagnosed with an illness."
In the second interview segment, Stewart admitted that he had broader concerns about what many saw as "incompetence" in Obamacare's implementation over the last week.
See part 1 of the segment above, and watch part 2 below (story continues below video):
When Sebelius again defended the importance of making sure more people have health insurance and aren't relying on treatment at the emergency room, Stewart said he believed this goal would have been best achieved through a single-payer system.
"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 that I honestly don't understand, why businesses would jump at the chance to decouple health insurance from their responsibility, and why the government wouldn't jump at the chance to create a single-payer that simplifies this whole gobbledegook and creates the program that I think America deserves," Stewart said.
Sebelius said she understood Stewart's point, but thought "the president did not want to dismantle the health care that 85 percent of the country have and start all over again." She also noted that the Republican response to Obamacare suggested that they wouldn't have been too excited about the idea of a single-payer system run by the federal government.