Politics

October 31, 2013

Obama says he’s ‘not happy’ with health website

The president, speaking in Massachusetts, says he takes responsibility for resolving problems.

By Nedra Pickler
The Associated Press

BOSTON – Declaring himself “not happy” with health care enrollment problems, President Barack Obama said Wednesday he takes “full responsibility” for resolving the computer problems that have bedeviled the administration and undermined a key step in the health care law. “We’re going to see this through,” he said.

click image to enlarge

President Barack Obama speaks at Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall about the federal health care law, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. Faneuil Hall is where former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Obama’s rival in the 2012 presidential election, signed the state’s landmark health care law in 2006, with top Democrats standing by his side.

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

click image to enlarge

President Barack Obama speaks at Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall about the federal health care law on Wednesday. Faneuil Hall is where former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, Obama’s rival in the 2012 presidential election, signed the state’s landmark health care law in 2006, with top Democrats standing by his side.

The Associated Press

Related headlines

Obama chose to address both the benefits and the difficulties of the health care law in Massachusetts, where the state’s health care coverage provided the model for the federal health insurance overhaul. The president cited early problems with the Massachusetts law as he tried to lower expectations for the initial enrollment in the federal system.

“All the parade of horribles, the worst predictions about health care reform in Massachusetts never came true,” he said. “They’re the same arguments that you’re hearing now.”

The president pointed to benefits already available under the 3-year-old health care law, including ending discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions and permission to keep young people on their parents’ insurance plans until they turn 26.

But he conceded the troubled launch of the open enrollment period that began Oct. 1.

“There’s no excuse for it,” he said. “And I take full responsibility for making sure it gets fixed ASAP. We are working overtime to improve it every day.”

Underscoring the president’s challenge, the healthcare.gov website was down, because of technical difficulties, during his remarks. Republicans say the current computer dysfunction is more reason to repeal the law, and they’re pressing Obama administration officials for an explanation.

Obama also tried to clarify the most recent controversy surrounding the law — the wave of cancellation notices hitting small businesses and individuals who buy their own insurance. When he was trying to sell the health care overhaul bill to the public, Obama had vowed that anyone who liked their insurance would be able to keep it.

The cancellation notices apply to people whose plans changed after the law was implemented or don’t meet new coverage requirements. The president said those changes ensure that all Americans are able to get quality coverage.

“If you’re getting one of these letters, just shop around in the new market place,” he said. “That’s what it’s for.”

He said that because of government subsidies, most people who must get new policies will pay less than they are now. But he acknowledged that “a fraction of Americans with higher incomes” will likely pay more.

Obama spoke in Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall, where Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney was joined by the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy to sign the state’s 2006 health care overhaul bill.

Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics professor who advised both Romney and Obama on the development of their laws, said only 123 paying consumers signed up the first month of the Massachusetts law, with 36,000 coming on by the time penalties kicked in for failing to have insurance.

In a statement Wednesday, Romney said he believes “a plan crafted to fit the unique circumstances of a single state should not be grafted onto the entire country.”

“Beyond that, had President Obama actually learned the lessons of Massachusetts health care, millions of Americans would not lose the insurance they were promised they could keep, millions more would not see their premiums skyrocket and the installation of the program would not have been a frustrating embarrassment,” Romney added.

Obama, who lived in Boston while a student at Harvard University, was in town for a World Series game day, but his spokesman said he didn’t plan to make a side trip to Fenway Park. Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama was mindful of the impact his security entourage has on the public and never considered attending.

While in Boston, Obama also planned to speak at a fundraiser for House Democrats at the home of his former ambassador to Spain, Alan Solomont. About 60 people paid $16,200 to $64,800 to dine on Spanish-influenced fare, to be followed by Red Sox cookies in honor of the World Series game being played in town the same night.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)


Blogs

More PPH Blogs