Some Democrats Air Frustration With Obamacare WebsiteBy Karen Pallarito
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WEDNESDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Some Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are starting to criticize the Obama administration's handling of problems that have dogged the introduction of the health-reform law sometimes called Obamacare, according to published reports.
One Democratic House member, Richard Nolan of Minnesota, said Wednesday that the rollout -- hindered by problems with the HealthCare.gov registration website -- has "damaged the brand" of the health-care law. Nolan made his remarks after a meeting with administration officials on Capitol Hill, The Associated Press reported.
"The president needs to man up, find out who was responsible, and fire them," Nolan said, without naming anyone specifically.
Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., added: "Somebody should be held accountable. Absolutely."
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, a longtime critic of the health-reform law formally known as the Affordable Care Act, told reporters that "the whole threat of Obamacare [continues] to hang over our economy like a wet blanket."
"More Americans are going to lose their health insurance than are going to sign up at these exchanges," Boehner said, according to the AP.
Many House Democrats up for re-election in 2014 hoped their campaigns could capitalize on the health law's goal of bringing health care coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. But the computer problems at the federal health exchange website are keeping would-be shoppers from buying insurance, the news service noted.
Obama reiterated Wednesday that he's as frustrated as anyone by the computer problems. He has brought in longtime adviser and management consultant Jeffrey Zients for advice on ways to fix HealthCare.gov.
The president also said he's instituted a "tech surge," recruiting top technology talent to repair the website, which also serves 36 states. The administration, however, has yet to say how long that will take, the AP reported.
On Monday, Obama admitted that there's "no excuse" for the troubles with the HealthCare.gov website.
"There's no sugar-coating it. 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," he said during an address from the White House Rose Garden.
It was the first time since the rocky Oct. 1 launch of the new federal and state health insurance exchanges that Obama had publicly responded to the glitches and delays that consumers have experienced while attempting to review their health-plan options and buy insurance coverage.
The exchanges are a key component of the Affordable Care Act, Obama's sweeping yet controversial effort to bring health insurance to millions of uninsured Americans.
Despite the online registration woes, Obama insisted Monday that "the point is the essence of the law -- the health insurance that's available to people -- is working just fine."
To date, more than half a million people have filed applications through state and federal marketplaces, Obama said Monday.
"The product -- the health insurance -- is good," he said. "The prices are good. It's a good deal. People don't just want it, they're showing up to buy it."
Obama said the insurance available through the exchanges won't take effect until Jan. 1 and the country is "only three weeks into a six-month open-enrollment period."
SOURCES: Oct. 21, 2013, news conference, President Barack Obama, White House, Washington, D.C.; The Associated Press