On Monday President Barack Obama will declare the glitches in a new healthcare website “unacceptable” and explain how to sign up for insurance while his team scrambles to fix problems that have tainted the rollout of his signature healthcare law.
“The President will directly address the technical problems with HealthCare.gov — troubles that he and his team find unacceptable — and discuss the actions he has pushed for to make it easier for consumers to comparison shop and enroll for insurance while work continues around the clock to improve the website,” the official said.
The president will say the product itself and the goal behind it – insuring millions of uninsured Americans – are good despite the problems that have plagued its rollout, reports the Reuters.
The expanded team of computer experts has come up with new ways of monitoring which parts of the federal Web site, HealthCare.gov, are having problems and has been taking the site offline for rigorous overnight tests, according to a Department of Health and Human Services spokesman.
“Unfortunately, the experience on HealthCare.gov has been frustrating for many Americans,” HHS officials said in a blog post Sunday afternoon, acknowledging what has been obvious to millions of insurance seekers who live in the three dozen states relying on the federal exchange.
Last week, President Barack Obama gathered some of his top advisers in the Oval Office to discuss the problem-plagued rollout of his health care legislation. He told his team the administration had to own up to the fact that there were no excuses for not having the health care website ready to operate on Day One.
According to the Obama administration officials, more than 476,000 health insurance applications have been filed through federal and state exchanges. The figures mark the most detailed measure yet of the problem-plagued rollout of the insurance market place.
However, the officials continue to refuse to say how many people have actually enrolled in the insurance markets. And without enrollment figures, it’s unclear whether the program is on track to reach the 7 million people projected by the Congressional Budget Office to gain coverage during the six-month sign-up period.
The department, which held off in order to verify the accuracy of the information users submitted, said it would transfer the first batch of enrollees’ data — which includes thousands of transactions — as early as Friday night, says the NY Daily News.
Meanwhile, insurers were worried that the state website had incorrect information on details of plans that are available.
“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.”
Republicans in Congress have chastised Obama’s top health adviser, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, for declining their invitation to testify about the glitches to an oversight panel on October 24. Senator John McCain has described the enrollment process as a “fiasco”
It is also expected that some administration officials will travel the country in the coming weeks to encourage people to sign up on the exchanges. Mostly they will go to the areas where there are high percentages of uninsured, according to one official.
As the CNN reports, 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 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is expected to provide private health coverage to an estimated 7 million uninsured Americans through the new online marketplaces that opened for enrollment in all 50 states on October 1.