Obama's health care website is sick
Oct 21, 2013 / 5:38 pm
President Barack Obama on Monday offered "no excuses" — and little explanation — for the cascade of computer problems that are marring a key element in his health care law and giving his opponents fodder to criticize his signature legislative accomplishment.
The troublesome rollout of HealthCare.gov, the website where many Americans are supposed to be able to sign up to for insurance plans, has been a glaring embarrassment for the Obama administration and could impact next year's congressional elections as well as the president's legacy.
The health care law is intended to extend health insurance coverage to millions of Americans who lack it. Republicans, who argue that taxes and requirements associated with the 3-year-old law are costing jobs, have repeatedly failed to thwart its implementation. Their latest attempt triggered a 16-day partial government shutdown that initially overshadowed the problems with the rollout of the website.
The computer issues have called into question whether the administration is capable of implementing the complex policy and why senior White House officials — including the president — appear to have been unaware of the scope of the problems when the exchange sites opened on Oct. 1.
Software developers tasked with building the site said they saw signs a year ago that the debut could fail.
One source of the troubles appears to be the testing procedures employed before the rollout three weeks ago. Several developers of the website told The Associated Press they were worried for months about the system's readiness and whether the software meant to link key computer systems was being properly put through its paces.
Obama insisted that the problems would be fixed and all Americans seeking insurance would be able to sign up. But it was not clear how quickly that would happen. The administration is beefing up call centres and encouraging more people to enrol over the phone while the website problems persist.
"There's no sugarcoating it," Obama said. "Nobody is more frustrated than I am."
The president acknowledged that the failures would provide new fodder for opponents of the law, often referred to as "Obamacare." With the website not working as intended, "that makes a lot of supporters nervous," he said.
But he said, "it's time for folks to stop rooting for its failure."
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