Tampa, Florida -- She was just here in mid-August and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was back in Tampa on Tuesday, because this is an important state when it comes to the success of the Affordable Care Act.
"The bottom line is Florida has one of the highest uninsured populations in the country. About 23 percent of Floridians have no health coverage at all," Sebelius told a gathering at the USF CAMLS Center in downtown Tampa.
Healthcare 411: Full local coverage of the Affordable Healthcare Act
During the panel discussion, Sebelius heard from a navigator who helps people apply for insurance at a USF location. Michelle Ray says consumers are grateful for both the insurance and the advice.
"Not hollow at all; it was truly heartfelt," Ray says of the thanks. "There were tears going out the door. People were happy."
But so far, there are only 60 approved navigators for the entire state and major glitches on the federal website have slowed the application process. Still, two young people taking part in the discussion expressed relief that they now have some healthcare options.
"I broke my ankle and I had to rely on Google, YouTube and luck to get better," said Savanah Goodland, a 23-year-old waitress with no health insurance.
But neither Goodland, nor fellow panelist Chris Dawson, had actually been able to complete their enrollment yet -- good thing the period runs 26 weeks.
"We are making improvements as we speak," emphasized Sebelius.
Tuesday's gathering was less panel discussion and more cheerleading session for the Affordable Care Act and it is difficult to say how the enrollment process is going, because officials are not releasing any hard numbers. Sebelius and local officials say those stats will be available at the end of the month.