A defiant President Obama said Monday that he is angry about problems with a new health care website, but he argued that the Affordable Care Act as a whole is working as planned.
Although HealthCare.gov "hasn't worked as smoothly as it was supposed to work," uninsured Americans have been able to sign up for coverage, Obama said during a White House speech.
"The product -- the health insurance -- is good," Obama said. "The prices are good. It is a good deal."
Facing attacks from Republicans and other critics of Obamacare, the president said his health care team is reaching out to tech experts to help fix massive website problems that have hampered the rollout of his landmark piece of legislation.
"There's no excuse for the problems" on the website, he said.
"Nobody's madder than me about the fact that the website isn't working as well as it should," Obama said, "which means it's going to get fixed."
Aside from the website, Obama said the 2010 health care law is providing consumer protections and benefits for millions of Americans, including mammograms and birth control services. He told stories of now-covered Americans who had once been denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions.
"The essence of the law, the health insurance that's available to people, is working just fine," Obama said.
Congressional Republicans who oppose the health care law -- a key factor in this month's partial government shutdown -- said the initial problems call the entire program into question.
Citing reports that few people have signed up through health care exchanges, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that "another campaign-style event won't solve the myriad problems facing consumers under Obamacare."
McConnell said that "for months, the American people have been learning about the impact Obamacare will have on individuals and families in the form of higher premiums, disrupted insurance and lost jobs -- more broken promises from the administration."
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a prominent critic of the health care law, said the president designed his speech to "draw the media's attention to a handful of persons who have applied for Obamacare -- while ignoring the untold number of Americans who are losing the plans they liked because of Obamacare."
Cruz and a number of House Republicans opposed a new budget plan unless it defunded the health care law, leading to the 16-day government shutdown that ended last week. Some Republicans also objected to raising the debt ceiling unless some provisions of the law were delayed.
In his White House speech, Obama charged that Republicans are playing "politics" with the health care law, saying that "they were willing to shut down the government and potentially harm the global economy to try to get it repealed."
Obama said the HealthCare.gov website isn't the only way people can sign up for health care coverage. He said people can also apply in person at federal offices across the country. He twice provided the number of 24-hour call centers where he said people would be available to answer callers' questions in 150 languages. Obama also said that volunteers in community health centers and hospitals can help people apply for coverage, and he suggested that those looking for information also log onto LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.
In a blog post, the Department of Health and Human Services said some users of HealthCare.gov "have had trouble creating accounts and logging in to the site, while others have received confusing error messages, or had to wait for slow page loads or forms that failed to respond in a timely fashion."
As a result, HHS said it is enlisting the help of experts but did not provide specific names, nor has it reported exactly how many people have signed up for new insurance exchanges.
Copyright 2013 USA TODAY
Original headline: Obama: Health care issues inexcusable
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