December 5, 2013
US President Obama focused on fixing glitches in healthcare rollout
US President Barack Obama is frustrated by the problems with the rollout of his signature healthcare reform and the administration intends to fix them.
Fresh from the US budget battles, Obama will turn his attention to convincing Americans that the healthcare program can be fixed, despite the initial problems.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the administration was determined to repair the technical glitches in the online insurance exchanges that are a central part of the program known as "Obamacare," which launched on October 1.
"I think that there's no one more frustrated than the president at the difficulty in the website," Lew said. He said the US Department of Health and Human Services "has got plans to fix this and it has to fix this. It has to be done right."
Obama told aides in a recent Oval Office meeting that the administration had to take responsibility for the fact that the website was not ready on time. He is expected to address that in his remarks tomorrow.
Administration officials are expected to travel the country in the coming weeks to encourage people to sign up on the exchanges, targeting areas where there are high percentages of uninsured, according to one official.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is expected to provide private health coverage to an estimated 7 million uninsured Americans through the new online marketplaces that opened for enrollment in all 50 states on October 1.
But the website, healthcare.gov, the administration's online portal for consumers in 36 states, was hobbled by technical problems - including error messages, garbled text and delays loading pages.
Administration officials blame the problems partly on an unexpectedly high volume of visitors in its first 10 days. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there were more than 19 million visits to the website.
"We are committed to doing better," the department said in a blog post.
Despite the problems, it said, other parts of the system were function well.
"Individuals have been able to verify their eligibility for credits, enabling them to shop for, and enroll in, low- or even no-cost health plans," the department said.
"We have updated the site several times with new code that includes bug fixes. Our team has called in additional help to solve some of the more complex technical issues we are encountering."