Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

Obama Concedes Obamacare’s Web Flaws

President Barack Obama is going much farther than he has in the past in conceding the problems with the health care law’s rollout. He’s hoping today’s promised improvements will ease the public apprehension that’s surged to the forefront of Washington’s attention now that the shutdown and default drama has been set aside.

“There’s no sugarcoating it,” Obama said about the new website’s limitations, which he admitted was leaving the impression that the new policies were also subpar. “Precisely because the product is good, I want the cash registers to work properly,” he said in the Rose Garden at his first staged event since the scope of the problems became apparent.

The president’s declarations will do nothing to change the perception of all congressional Republicans, who remain unified in describing the law as flawed beyond saving even as they remain deeply split on when to take another shot at repeal.

Many of the Hill’s politically vulnerable Democrats, who have remained largely unified in defending the law and dismissing its website failures as predictable and fixable, are now inclined to be even more critical than the president.

“What has happened is unacceptable in terms of the glitches,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “They were overwhelmed to begin with. There is much that needs to be done to correct the situation.”

One other important signal of Democratic restiveness came as Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., declared on Fox News that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius would ultimately have to testify about the Obamacare computer problems. She and other administration officials have so far declined requests to appear at congressional hearings to discuss the reasons such a crash-prone was opened and how quickly the system will be fixed. That reticence has only fueled GOP fury, with some lawmakers now calling for Sebelius to resign.

With the budget wars now free of a countdown clock until early next year, implementation of Obamacare looks to be one of Washington’s preoccupations for the rest of the fall. Many Republicans lament that, in hindsight, they’ve realized they would have been better off waiting to pursue their repeal-at-all-costs strategy until after the rollout’s embarassing shortcomings had been revealed and been given the sort of publicity that didn’t happen during the government shutdown and debt limit crises.

Obama said about 20 million people have visited since it opened Oct. 1, but officials concede that only about 3 percent of those people (about 500,000) have applied for insurance policies through the federal  or state-run exchanges. (People have to file applications before they may enroll, in part to find out if they can get subsidized coverage)

Obama promised ramping up staffing at call centers where people will now more easily be able to apply for insurance by phone. HHS also bringing in technology experts from inside and outside of government to help diagnose the software problems.

  • Layla

    What we are now seeing is families getting hit with much higher rates in some states. These are the same families reeling from rising unemployment, some having lost homes, some with their children and grandchildren who are now all living together under one roof. Many cannot afford these new, higher rates. If you won’t offer these struggling families the same one year roll back offered to big business and the unions, then please don’t penalize them in this first year for not having insurance. For many, it will be a choice they just cannot afford to make right now.

    Please don’t push more financial hardship on them.

  • tlong559

    What negative reporting we have. Obama concedes? My wife is an IT manager and no new website invites everyone to check it out the same day. It was bound to have issues as any new website does. It is being fixed so be patient you have until March.
    As far as financial burden, the burden is having no coverage. My daughter just out of college has my coverage thanks to the affordable care act.
    Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, tweak the law where needed.
    PS Nixon tried to pass many of the same reforms while he was in office so stop the squabbling.

    • Phillip Hedayatnia

      Since your wife is an IT manager, please ask her if it is possible for a few thousand servers running Windows Server 2003 can handle 26 BILLION requests (as a result of improper redundant code) at once. The site launch could have gone OK – but not if government IT was so incompetent.

      • BIK

        Not government IT…they were all Private Contractors

        • Phillip Hedayatnia

          True… actually, CGI Federal is a Canadian *outsourcing* firm, so we are not even sure who. :)

    • BIK

      Yes those of us that were in IT (I was in Healthcare IT for 30+ years) know what should have been done as far as rolling out the website. Of course if all of the states had set up Exchanges that crash might never had happened. The GOP Governors are bound and determined to do what their Congressional Reps could not. And yes the burden is having no coverage. My son (who was a special needs child) at the age of 50 has never had coverage as an adult because he could not afford it and makes too much at work to qualify for Medicaid. The ACA gives him that chance…and as soon as the website straightens out he will apply.

  • moscoa

    Obama just piles hype and deception deeper! Even IF Obamacare gets past the monumental design flaws and incompetence and gets running, the real problem will be sticker shock for the middle class. They are the losers in the transfer scheme and virtually none of them are yet aware. When they catch on, it will not be pretty. The question is whether there will then be an outright revolt.

    Long term, Obama and the Dems are on the wrong side of the budget battles too. The illusion of short term “wins”, just deepens and postpones the problems.

  • Hawkeye72

    I would hope all Americans will stay away from this Obamacare socialist program. Don’t even go to the website. When you do they can start tracking. I fully believe that’s what this is all about. It has very
    little to do with healthcare. It’s about knowing everything about you and using
    it to control you. Eventually the government will know how many times you use the bathroom everyday and what you dream about at night. Have you asked yourself why Obama and the congress and their henchmen are exempt? If we swallow this the next step will be requiring you to have a tracking chip inserted under your skin. Think it can’t happen?Just watch. Next year,deadbeats like McConnell,Reid, Franken, Graham and Boehner are up for re-election. We have to pray that the good people of Kentucky,Nevada,South Carolina,Minnesota and Ohio will show these clowns the door and elect men and women with courage who will get the impeachment ball rolling.

    • Nicholas DeLuca

      ” Get the impeachment ball rolling “? What impeachable offenses have been committed ?

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