- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
Operators standing by: Obama puts happy face on disastrous Obamacare rollout
With problems mounting on Obamacare’s costly website, President Obama tried to convince the public Monday that the health care law is “really good,” even as he urged consumers to bypass online enrollment in favor of low-tech options such as mailing paper applications or calling a toll-free number.
Three weeks into Obamacare’s launch, the president was forced by facts to acknowledge that HealthCare.gov is slow and clunky, when it works at all.
“There’s no sugarcoating it,” Mr. Obama said in the White House Rose Garden. “The website has been too slow, people have been getting stuck during the application process. Nobody is more frustrated by that than I am.”
It was Mr. Obama’s first public comment about the website’s failures, and it was a far cry from the president’s bravado of four weeks ago, when he told Americans that a few glitches would be inevitable and that people should disregard the program’s naysayers.
As the president spoke, a female Obamacare supporter standing behind him began to faint. Mr. Obama helped catch her and joked that it was a result of “when I talk too long.”
One source of the website’s troubles appears to be the testing procedures employed before the Oct. 1 rollout. Several developers of the HealthCare.gov website told The Associated Press that 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.
Even as the president was delivering his speech, more problems emerged. The administration said a planned upgrade to the website was postponed indefinitely and that online Spanish-language sign-ups would remain unavailable, despite a promise to Hispanic groups that the capability would start this week.
With the success of the health care law itself increasingly in doubt, the White House tried to finesse questions Monday about whether the computer problems would lead to more delays in Obamacare coverage, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
White House press secretary Jay Carney wouldn’t answer a question about whether the individual mandate would be delayed because of enrollment problems or whether Americans would be penalized if they are unable to enroll.
Mr. Obama said the administration is stepping up efforts to fix the website by hiring more outside consultants to troubleshoot a system that is described as 10-year-old technology. The administration hasn’t said how much these efforts will cost; estimates indicate the website already has cost taxpayers more than $600 million.
Republicans have been trying for three years to delay or defund Obamacare, even provoking a 16-day government shutdown this month over the program’s future. But few developments have crystallized their complaints as much as the sight of Mr. Obama urging consumers to find other ways to enroll because of breakdowns of HealthCare.gov.
With the air of an “operators-are-standing-by” TV pitchman, the president said people can buy insurance the old-fashioned way, by showing up at an office in person, calling an 800 number (800/318-2596) or mailing a form via the U.S. Postal Service.
“The call centers are available,” Mr. Obama said. “You can talk to somebody directly and they can walk you through the application process. You can also apply in person with the help of local navigators — these are people specially trained to help you sign up for health care.”
The president tried to put a happy face on the embarrassing rollout of his signature achievement, saying the law is much more than an incompetently designed home page.
“The health insurance that’s being provided is good,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s a right for all to enjoy, and I intend to deliver on that promise.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at email@example.com.
- Senate's filibuster rule change opens floodgates for Obama nominees
- White House faces press revolt over access to Obama's South Africa flight
- U.S., Britain to halt non-lethal aid to Syrian opposition
- New Obama adviser John Podesta is against Keystone but will steer clear of pipeline deliberations
- White House blasts GOP for criticism of Castro handshake
Latest Blog Entries
- White House downplays concerns over phony sign-language interpreter
- Joe Biden signs condolence book for Nelson Mandela at D.C. embassy
- Biden to Japanese businesswomen: 'Do your husbands like you working full-time?'
- Son, granddaughter join Biden on weeklong diplomatic trip to Asia
- Obamas visit fasting immigration activists
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- House votes for bargain to end budget drama
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Jane Fonda Foundation fails to make single contribution in 5 years: report
- Atheists smug as Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow