October 20th, 2013
01:30 PM ET
12 months ago

Obama to address health care website glitches

Updated 5:24 p.m. ET, 10/20/2013

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama on Monday will talk about the website glitches that have plagued the application process for health care insurance since the new exchanges opened up this month.

In Rose Garden remarks about the Affordable Care Act, the president will reiterate his stance that he finds the technical problems unacceptable and will discuss steps his administration has taken to get them fixed, a White House official said Sunday.

Obama administration also officials highlighted over the weekend the fact that nearly 500,000 people have filled out applications for Obamacare.

The site has seen many problems with people trying to log on as well as issues once they have applied, such as some people applying for different plans. Insurance industry sources have said they are getting some applications with missing information.

Republicans on the Sunday talk shows aimed their fire at the site.

"It's been a fiasco. Send Air Force One to Silicon Valley. Load it up with smart people, bring it back to Washington and fix this problem. It's ridiculous, and everybody knows that," Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger on "State of the Union."

"They've had three or four years here to get this ready. God only knows how much money they've spent, and it's a failure. You know, the government simply isn't going to be able to get this job done correctly," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Fact Check: Obamacare

"Obamacare is a disaster. It's not working. It's hurting people all across the country," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash.

McCain: Obamacare website rollout a 'fiasco'

The administration says it is working to fix the problems.

"I think there is no one more frustrated than the President at the difficulty in the website," Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on NBC's "Meet the Press." The Department of Health and Human Services "has got plans to fix this, and they have to fix this. It has to be done right."

The application portion of the website was brought down this weekend for overnight maintenance, as it has been on previous weekends and some weeknights. An administration official confirmed to CNN that additional government and private technology experts will be brought on to help solve the problems but did not provide any details.

In a blog post Sunday afternoon, the Health and Human Services department said: "To ensure that we make swift progress, and that the consumer experience continues to improve, our team has called in additional help to solve some of the more complex technical issues we are encountering. Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team and help improve HealthCare.gov."

Two officials said staffing at call centers has been increased by about 50% to help people phoning in, and officials are emphasizing that now, as an alternative, one can enroll over the phone. About 1.2 million calls have been processed from those seeking information.

"The website is unacceptable, and we are improving it," one senior administration official told CNN. "But the underlying insurance product is good, and across the country, people are getting access to affordable care on January 1."

The administration is still not releasing the numbers on how many people have taken the next step of enrolling: choosing a specific health care plan. The administration has said it will do that only on a monthly basis, so the first tally of enrollment numbers will come in November.

Virginia governor candidate blasts Obamacare in GOP weekly address

The Congressional Budget Office has said it expects 7 million people to enroll by April 1.

Although the administration tally of applications did not break down how many of the applications came through state-run exchanges, a CNN survey this week of officials with those exchanges found that at least 257,000 people had signed up for new insurance plans as of Friday afternoon.

Not all of them had made a payment, and not every state responded to the CNN request.

Former Obama spokesman: Fire those who botched Obamacare website

Democrats say it is still early in the process, because the uninsured have until January before they need to sign up or face a penalty, and they point to a lot of interest despite the problems.

"Nineteen million unique visitors to the health care site, and I think that is very important," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said. "How the technology is working is unacceptable, and they are working to correct that. But that doesn't change what the initiative is, which is affordable, quality health care accessible to many more people in our country, and I'm very excited about that."

CNN's Adam Aigner-Treworgy, Brian Todd and Dugald McConnell contributed to this story.


Filed under: Health care • Jack Lew • John McCain • Mitch McConnell • Ted Cruz
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. California

    The flagship law of this administration is obviously a joke at best.

    Keep up the good work government. Ha ha ha

    October 20, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  2. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Hey GOP clowns, appropriate some money to fix the problems and stop turning everything into a scandal. You love to cause so much drama; it’s nauseating!

    October 20, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  3. Randy, San Francisco

    Republicans couldn't stop Social Security or Medicare and they won't be able to stop the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA). When millions of Americans are enrolled, the AHCA will join Social Security and Medicare on the untouchable third rail of politics. American voters will remember that Republican and Tea Partiers were against the AHCA.

    October 20, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. Be A True Leader

    President Obama must fire few top executives whom are in charge of the ACA website if they (a bunch of incompetents) do not volunteer to resign. It's an embarrassment and a disaster.

    October 20, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. oracle

    Yeah, the same people that couldn't get it right after 3-4 years, hundreds of millions of dollars ... these same people are going to fix it in the next 30-60 days?

    Yeah, ok ... I've got a bridge to sell you too.

    October 20, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. Ron L

    The launching of the site was horrendous. For the amount of money spent, the cost overruns, and the bad start there needs to be some answers given by Secretary Sibelius. If there are no very sound reasons for the cost overruns and poor launches someone should be fired. Maybe not necessarily the Secretary but definitely the person given the task to develop the site. After all the plan is to help up to 30,000,000 Americans get affordable heathcare, and you set up a site that can only support 50,000 people at a time??? Just does not make any sense??

    October 20, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. Jim Bob

    Great. Let's vow to the fix the thing after we bought it.

    October 20, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  8. Name

    They can say anything they want but the law is going to be fine,who cares about what republicans good for nothing says

    October 20, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. the hippies were right

    This is reality. Anytime you develop a new product you have no choice but to start with the tools and knowledge that is available at that time. Once the basic design is determined you then start tweaking and improving. Each improvement leads to a new improvement. Look at PC's and operating systems how they come out with a new improved design and soon after a better one comes along. The ACA website has started off poorly, but will only improve as time goes by. This is simple logic. The GOPers who are complaining know this, but they want their sheep to believe the ACA is bad. If it truly is bad then why don't they just sit back and let it crash? That would be a guarantee victory for 2014 and 2016. But instead, they won't let up because they know the success of the ACA means the end of the GOP winning much of anything for a long time! You haters even know that it's rare for a huge product to be unvelied without some glitches, but you just can't help yourself on this one....can you?

    October 20, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  10. Evergreen

    The horror! The horror! The ACA website has glitches. Quick lets point fingers! ITS A COMPUTER SYSTEM...not a nuclear reactor, it will be fixed. Yet not a word from them about flushing more than 26 billion dollars down the toilet in 16 days and nearly crashing the global economy.

    October 20, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  11. Evergreen

    It is these antics that make the President appear as the only grownup in the room. The President has the GOP/TP to thank for his re-election. They have proven over and over again that they are not ready for prime time.

    October 20, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |