CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After problems have plagued the health care exchange website, several senators expressed concerns with the site and the health law, asking why the launch couldn't have been delayed.
Open enrollment began Oct. 1 and it lasts through March 31. However, problems started since the launch of healthcare.gov.
Since then, officials have repeatedly assured that problems will be fixed. Senators aired concerns about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act during Wednesday's U.S. Senate Committee on Finance meeting.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said even with concerns over the launch of the marketplace, he is "enormously proud of the law."
Rockefeller said many West Virginians have seen benefits through Medicaid expansion.
"But I also want to make the point that the frustration we all feel comes largely from the fact that our hopes and expectations for the new law are so high, and the need for affordable health insurance in this country is so great," he said, "We should not let the marketplace's problems overshadow the lifesaving benefits of the law."
In the finance committee meeting, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said a team is working to fix glitches.
Sebelius noted the last five weeks have been a "miserably frustrating experience" and the site should be running smoothly by the end of November.
"It's unacceptable," she said. "We are working to fix it and I am accountable."
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., told Sebelius that officials must "meet, even beat that deadline."
For fixes, Sebelius said there are two areas of focus -- speed/reliability and fixing bugs and other issues in the system. She said the tech team is on an aggressive schedule to fix bugs by the end of November.
She said healthcare.gov needs a couple of hundred functional fixes and officials are working on the first series on the "punch list." Although Sebelius said officials have made progress on this list, she said they aren't where they need to be.
Sebelius said officials have made progress including fewer error messages and time outs, but there still is work to do.
Several asked Sebelius why the launch wasn't delayed. Sebelius said delay wasn't an option.
"Delaying the Affordable Care Act wouldn't delay cancer or diabetes or Parkinson's," she said, later adding, "For millions of Americans, delay isn't an option. Too many lives depend on this."
Baucus asked why the administration would keep "limping along" until problems were fixed, instead of just shutting the website down until problems are resolved.
Sebelius said experts looking at the system have determined the site is "fixable, not fatally flawed." She said shutting down the system would not help because it's easier to do routine upgrades.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, called ACA implementation an "absolute debacle" and asked Sebelius to provide implementation updates to the committee once a month for the next few months.
Hatch expressed concerns of adequate testing before launch to ensure privacy controls were in place.