Obama Says ‘No Excuse’ for Problem-Plagued Health Care Rollout
(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Monday said "nobody's madder than me" about the botched roll out of the online health care marketplace, vowing that the problems will be fixed.
"The website that's supposed to make it easy to apply for and purchase the insurance is not working the way it should for everybody," the president said in a Rose Garden statement, as the administration scrambles to do damage-control.
"There's no sugar-coating it. The website has been too slow. People have getting stuck during the application process. And I think it's fair to say that nobody's more frustrated by that than I am," he said.
"There's no excuse for the problems. And these problems are getting fixed," Obama continued.
The president was adamant that the problems plaguing the website, HealthCare.gov, are not a broader indication of the failure of his signature health care law.
"The product is good. The health insurance that's being provided is good. It's high quality, and it's affordable. People can save money -- significant money -- by getting insurance that's being provided through these marketplaces," he said. "And we know that the demand is there. People are rushing to see what's available."
"Precisely because the product is good, I want the cash registers to work, I want the checkout lines to be smooth, so I want people to be able to get this great product," Obama said.
Monday's event was intended to counter publicly the mounting criticism of the rollout, much of which was overshadowed by the budget battles that consumed Washington in the past several weeks.
The president acknowledged that the problems with the site provide fodder for his opponents.
"Let's admit it, with the website not working as well as it needs to work, that makes a lot of supporters nervous because they know how it's been subject to so much attack, the Affordable Care Act generally," he said.
"It's time for folks to stop rooting for its failure, because hardworking middle-class families are rooting for its success. And if the product is good, they're willing to be patient," Obama added.
The president's comments come one day after the Department of Health and Human Services announced it was launching a "tech surge" to fix the problems, enlisting the help of experts inside and outside the government to help smooth out the "glitches."
Obama did not, however, explain what caused the technical problems or who was responsible. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who was present at Monday's event, has come under fire for the botched rollout and several Republicans have called for her ouster.
In an effort to show the high demand, HHS announced this weekend that nearly half a million Americans have already applied for coverage. The White House, however, has yet to say how many applicants have actually enrolled. Those figures will not be available until next month.
The president on Monday sought to assure Americans that there is still plenty of time for them to sign up before open enrollment closes on March 31, joking that "they're not going to sell out."
"The prices that insurers have set will not change. So everybody who wants insurance through the marketplace will get insurance, period," he said to applause.
In the meantime, he urged those looking to enroll to do so over the phone or in person.
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