Obama: “˜There’s No Sugarcoating’ the Health Care Insurance Exchange

But to him, the health care law is still sweet: “We did not wage long and contentious battle just around a website.”

National Journal
Brian Resnick, Alex Seitz Wald, Lucia Graves and Marina Koren
See more stories about...
Brian Resnick Alex Seitz-Wald Lucia Graves Marina Koren
Oct. 21, 2013, 8:16 a.m.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4519) }}

It was a bit like an in­fomer­cial: The sat­is­fied cus­tom­ers gave testi­mo­ni­als. The man­u­fac­turer as­sured view­ers that the product will make life easi­er. And the product is great, and cleanup of any glitches will be a breeze.

Well, not that last part, but Pres­id­ent Obama did read off the num­ber Amer­ic­ans could call to sign up for health in­sur­ance. Flanked by hu­man props, the pres­id­ent spoke Monday out­side the White House, in the wake of the rough start to the Af­ford­able Care Act’s on­line health in­sur­ance ex­changes, fed­er­al and state-run. He ad­mit­ted troubles.

“There’s no sug­ar­coat­ing it,” he said. “The web­site has been too slow, people are get­ting stuck dur­ing the ap­plic­a­tion pro­cess. And I think it’s fair to say that nobody is more frus­trated by that than I am.” He later ad­ded, “Nobody is mad­der than me about the fact that the web­site is not work­ing as well as it should, which means it’s gonna get fixed.”

But the pres­id­ent spent most of his time run­ning through the bul­let points of what the ideal­ized ver­sion of the health care ex­changes will ac­com­plish. “Let me re­mind every­body that the Af­ford­able Care Act is not just a web­site,” the pres­id­ent said, then con­tin­ued with boil­er­plate ar­gu­ments for the law that he has re­peated since the law was first de­bated in Con­gress — that preex­ist­ing con­di­tions will not pre­vent people from buy­ing in­sur­ance, and so on.

Obama down­played the web­site’s sig­ni­fic­ance in the scope of the over­arch­ing law. “I just want to re­mind every­body, we did not wage long and con­ten­tious battle just around a web­site,” he said.

“The product is good,” the pres­id­ent said. “The health in­sur­ance that’s be­ing provided is good. It’s high qual­ity, and it’s af­ford­able.”

The fed­er­al health ex­change mar­ket­place, health­care.gov, has been vis­ited nearly 20 mil­lion times since it launched Oct. 1, Obama said. But still un­clear is the num­ber of people who have suc­cess­fully signed up on the ex­changes. Even the wo­man who in­tro­duced him, there to demon­strate that some people had suc­cess­fully signed up, called the ex­per­i­ence frus­trat­ing.

In the wake of the launch, many tech­no­lo­gic­al com­ment­at­ors cri­ti­cized the site as, by design, flawed — that there wer­en’t merely traffic is­sues. The ad­min­is­tra­tion is work­ing on an over­haul, and as The New York Times re­ports, in a tech­no­logy “surge,” as many as 5 mil­lion lines of code may have to be re­writ­ten.

One of the pres­id­ent’s biggest ap­plause line was dir­ec­ted at wo­men spe­cific­ally. “Every day, wo­men are fi­nally buy­ing cov­er­age that doesn’t charge them high­er premi­ums than men for the same care,” he said.

He was joined on stage by a dozen plus people who had already be­ne­fit­ted from the Af­ford­able Care Act, in­clud­ing Janice Baker, the first wo­man to en­roll in the Delaware ex­change. She and her hus­band own the Heav­enly Hound Hotel, a dog ken­nel in Selbyville. Be­fore en­rolling in the new mar­ket­place, she had been turned down for health in­sur­ance three times due to a minor preex­ist­ing con­di­tion.

A wo­man on­stage ap­peared to faint as the pres­id­ent was talk­ing; those next to her caught her fall. “This hap­pens when I talk too long,” Obama said.

Oth­er folks on stage in­cluded Jes­sica Ugalde, who was able to re­ceive treat­ment for a ser­i­ous ill­ness after leav­ing school by stay­ing on her mom’s in­sur­ance. And Ginger Gut­ting, a phar­macy su­per­visor for CVS in North­ern Vir­gin­ia, who says she has seen the im­pact of the ACA on her many cus­tom­ers and store phar­macists across the Wash­ing­ton metro area.

What We're Following See More »
FRENCH IS A LAWYER, VETERAN
Kristol Recruiting National Review’s David French for Third-Party Run
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Two Republicans intimately familiar with Bill Kristol’s efforts to recruit an independent presidential candidate to challenge Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have told Bloomberg Politics that the person Kristol has in mind is David French -- whose name the editor of the Weekly Standard floated in the current issue of the magazine.

French is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. According to the website of National Review, where French is a staff writer, he is a constitutional lawyer, a recipient of the Bronze Star, and an author of several books who lives in Columbia, Tenn., with his wife Nancy and three children."

Source:
CALIFORNIA VOTES IN A WEEK
Jerry Brown Backs Clinton
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

California Gov. Jerry Brown endorsed Hillary Clinton today, calling her "the only path forward to win the presidency and stop the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump." While praising Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign, Brown said "Clinton’s lead is insurmountable and Democrats have shown – by millions of votes – that they want her as their nominee. ... This is no time for Democrats to keep fighting each other. The general election has already begun."

Source:
GLASS CEILING STILL HARD TO CRACK
Clinton Says Voters Still Hung Up on Gender
13 hours ago
THE LATEST

In a New York Magazine profile, Hillary Clinton said she still encounters misogyny at her own events: “‘I really admire you, I really like you, I just don’t know if I can vote for a woman to be president.’ I mean, they come to my events and then they say that to me.”

Source:
CHANGE WE CAN’T BELIEVE IN
Trump Vows Not to Change
13 hours ago
THE LATEST
Source:
BACKING OUT ON BERNIE
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
4 days ago
THE LATEST

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

×