ACA ‘is not just a website,’ says Obama
October 22, 2013 in Medical Technology
Flanked by a number of Americans who have successfully enrolled for coverage on Healthcare.gov, President Barack Obama vigorously defended the benefits of the Affordable Care Act on Monday, even as the rollout of the federal insurance marketplace website has been riddled with errors that could take weeks to fix.
Obama was was introduced by Janice Baker, a 59-year-old owner of a small dog boarding business in Delaware and the first person in the state to successfully complete the process – and set to save about $150 a month in premiums compared to the limited small group options she said she faced prior to the ACA.
[See also: What happened to Healthcare.gov?]
What Baker did not say at the White House Rose Garden was that it took her seven hours to get through the enrollment process in the state-federal partnership marketplace, as she explained in a media conference with Delaware state health officials last week.
“Have patience,” she said.
Obama defended the new insurance options, patient protections and delivery reforms his signature law is bringing and noted that the website is not the only way to enroll. But he was also forthright about the problems — and called the initial shoddiness inexcusable for consumers in the world’s wealthiest country.
[See also: Obama calls IT support for ailing site]
“There’s no sugarcoating it,” he said. “The website has been too slow. People have been getting stuck during the application process. And I think it’s fair to say that nobody’s more frustrated by that than I am. Precisely because the product is good, I want the cash registers to work, I want the checkout lines to be smooth, so I want people to be able to get this great product. And there’s no excuse for the problems.”
Still, “Tese problems are getting fixed,” Obama said, with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius looking from the first row, as CSPAN was keen to show, but not taking the stage.
Obama also reiterated a message HHS outlined in a recent blog post. The “best and brightest from both inside and outside government” are assembling to “scrub in with the team” and help solve the site’s myriad faults. Still, there has been little specificity about who those people might be.
The Obama Administration is partly adopting the strategy of many successful tech companies — iteration in pursuit of improvement.
From day one, a primary criticism of healthcare.gov was that it required shoppers and applicants to create an account before being able to see what plans are available or get a sense of their likely subsidies. The site now gives consumers the ability to see what plans are available to them based on their state, home county and age.