(CNN) – A fix that will allow Americans to shop for and enroll in federal health care exchanges online is coming soon, President Barack Obama reassured supporters of the Affordable Care Act in Dallas on Wednesday.
Speaking more than a month after the exchanges’ disastrous rollout, Obama again said he was frustrated a key portion of his signature law wasn’t working the way he’d planned.
“You've all heard about the website woes? Nothing drives me more crazy than the fact that right now there's great insurance to be had out there - choice and competition where people can save money for a better product - except too many folks haven't been able to get through the website,” Obama said at Dallas’ Temple Emanu-El.
Obama and other officials have repeatedly vowed to get HealthCare.gov working again for the majority of Americans by the end of November, though on Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius listed a long “punch list” of items to be completed before the site is fully functional.
“We are working overtime to get this fixed, and the website is already better than it was at the beginning of October,” Obama said in Dallas. “By the end of this month, we anticipate that it is going to be working the way it is supposed to.”
Obama's renewed effort to sell his health care law took him to the heart of Republican Texas, where he criticized the state's GOP leaders for rejecting a key facet of the Affordable Care Act that could extend coverage to millions of uninsured Texans.
Texas ranks highest in the nation in the percentage of people without insurance - a statistic the White House says makes the state ripe for participation in the new health care program.
But the state's Republican governor has resisted one aspect of Obamacare - the expansion of Medicaid for people with annual incomes at or below 133% of the federal poverty level. The U.S. Supreme Court's 2012 decision upholding the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate also said states could opt out of the Medicaid provision.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry did just that, saying the federal Medicaid program was already ineffective and that participating in the expansion and establishing a state exchange would amount to "brazen intrusions into the sovereignty of our state."
While some other Republican governors have also rejected the Medicaid expansion, others - including Ohio's John Kasich and Michigan's Rick Snyder - have adopted the program.
“There's no state that actually needs this more than Texas,” Obama said Wednesday of the Medicaid expansion, going on to cite Texas’ neighbors who have chosen to accept the federal money to extend coverage.
“They look at it and say this is a no brainer,” Obama said. “Why would we not want to take advantage of this?”
Perry, responding to Obama’s visit to his state, said in a statement that Texas needs “the flexibility to implement fundamental, state-specific reforms to our Medicaid program, instead of a one-size-fits-all Washington mandate, before it bankrupts our state.”
The former Republican presidential candidate went on to lambast the President’s 2009 and 2010 vow that Americans who liked their current health insurance could keep it, saying Obama had “deceived the American people.”
While Obama referenced that promise in a speech earlier this week, attempting to explain what he meant in the lead-up to the bill’s passage, he made no mention of the “if you like it, you can keep it” pledge on Wednesday.
In Dallas - where 28% of the total population goes without health insurance - Obama visited the city's Temple Emanu-El to see firsthand how people are signing up for the health care law.
"Navigators," or community members versed in the sign-up process, have been working through the website issues to help Americans enroll over the phone and through paper applications, though internal memos released this week indicated those methods still relied on the website to complete the sign-up process.
Obama praised the navigators’ work Wednesday, saying that even if the website had functioned perfectly, their help would still be needed to explain the various aspects of the law.