TODAY   |  April 13, 2014

Kathleen Sebelius has ‘no regrets’ as she steps down

Kathleen Sebelius, the outgoing secretary of Health and Human Services, told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that even though the launch of the Obamacare website was “terribly flawed and terribly difficult,” the program has made strides.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> she has been a lightning rod for criticism ever since the rollout of obamacare turned into a huge mess. health and human services secretary kathleen sebelius announcing on friday she is stepping down from that post. the next day she spoke exclusively to andrea mitchell about her troubled time in washington.

>> well, i think there's no question. and i've said this many times. that the launch of the website was terribly flawed and terribly difficult. the good news was that we said it would be fixed in eight weeks. it was fixed in eight weeks. could we have used more time and testing? you bet. and i've said that from the start. and the great thing is, there's a market behind the site that works even better. people have competitive choices and real information for the first time ever in this insurance market.

>> did the white house oversell it?

>> i don't think they did. i think what we said from the outset was, you know, this was fixing a very broken market. where individuals really were on their own. if you were healthy and wealthy, you could get coverage. if you weren't, you were pretty much on your own.

>> do you have any regrets?

>> i don't. i -- i have -- i mean, if i had a -- a magic wand and could go back to mid-september and ask different questions based on what i know now, i thought i was getting the best information from the best experts having outside and inside people come report and look, measure, but clearly that didn't go well.

>> david gregory is moderator of "meet the press." david, good morning.

>> good morning, erica.

>> this has been a big focus in the days since kathleen sebelius announced her resignation. a lot of people asking, though, why now? so what is the thinking behind the timing?

>> well, i think from a political point of view it's a way to say to democrats, look, we're taking some of the accountability in the administration. go out, try to win this debate over obamacare. you have better news to work with here. we're going to remove one of the impediments. the fact that kathleen sebelius who is criticized as running the department overseeing this and implementing it is now gone. i think the president made a decision at the time when all of the rollout was happening so poorly that he didn't want to fire her then, force her resignation because, "a," they were in a bit of a panic about how to fix things. two, to replace her and get somebody confirmed on capitol hill would have exacerbated those problems. so he made the decision to stand fast at the moment. take responsibility for it and try to get the problems fixed. which they did. it doesn't mean that obamacare is going to roll out completely smoothly or that all of the impacts of it are going to be fully known. that's what republicans are going to keep arguing about.

>> we'll be hearing more about that obviously. the president having to name a replacement, siylvia matthews borrel. she is more of a budget person. why was she the best choice moving forward?

>> i think just viewed as a confident manager. going to be able to deal with execution going forward. they wanted someone more than anything not the kind of target kathleen sebelius has become because she was associated with the rollout in the way she was. i think the administration did not use sebelius as effectively as they could have in terms of making her an outspoken advocate for and spokesperson for the law. maybe they didn't feel she was up to that task. and that her successor will be.

>> this is something obviously we're going to continue to hear about. by that i mean obamacare and health care . so over the weekend in new hampshire, was the freedom summit. which is sponsored by conservative groups. we saw senators ted cruz , rand paul there. really, too, doubling down on health care . is this the beginning of or maybe we should say resumption as we resume speculation for 2016 ?

>> there's no question about that. and they're also teeing up 2014 . you know, this mid-term race has got to be from the republican point of view about health care , and it's got to be about president obama and the m democratic grand. go back to 2006 . the iraq war and big gains for democrats because of president bush and the republican brand. once they get to 2016 i think they want to turn the corner. it's got to be about a republican party that is moving forward with a different theory. and a different way to govern. they've got to be in that place by 2016 . they don't want it to still be about president obama by then.