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Obama: 'No excuse' for health care signup problems

By Julie Pace

AP White House Correspondent

LAST UPDATED: 09:38 a.m. HST, Oct 21, 2013

WASHINGTON » President Barack Obama today said there was "no excuse" for the cascade of computer problems that have marred the rollout of a key element in his health care law, but declared he was confident the administration would be able to fix the issues.

"There's no sugarcoating it," Obama said. "Nobody is more frustrated than I am."

The president said his administration was doing "everything we can possibly do" to get the federally run websites where people are supposed to apply for insurance up and running. That includes bringing in additional technology experts from inside and outside the government to work on the issues.

People have until March 31 to sign up for coverage. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office had projected that about 7 million people would gain coverage through the exchanges during the first year.

The president today guaranteed that everyone who wants to get insurance through the new health care exchanges will be able to, even if they have to enroll over the phone or fill out a paper application. The White House also appeared to open the door to the possibility that people trying to purchase insurance who were confounded by website problems might be exempted from the law's penalty for remaining uninsured after March 31.

Obama's event in the White House Rose Garden had the feeling of a health care pep rally, with guests in the Rose Garden applauding as Obama ticked through what the White House sees as benefits of the law. The president was introduced by a woman who had successfully managed to sign up for health insurance through the marketplaces in her home state of Delaware.

The rollout failures have been deeply embarrassing for the White House. The issues have called into question whether the administration is capable of implementing the complex policy and why senior White House officials — including the president — appear to have been unaware of the scope of the problems when the exchange sites opened on Oct. 1.

Obama, in his most extensive remarks about the health care problems, insisted today that the health care law is about more than just a website.

"The essence of the law, the health insurance that's available to people, is working just fine," he said during his 25-minute remarks.

The White House says more than 19 million people have visited HealthCare.gov since the site went live on Oct. 1. Officials also say a half million people have applied for insurance on the federal- and state-run websites.

Although administration officials have acknowledged issues with software and some elements of the system's design, they have repeatedly cited high consumer interest as among the factors overwhelming the website when people try to log on.

"There's no question that the volume has caused some of the problems but also exposed some of the problems," White House spokesman Jay Carney said today.

However, Carney and other White House officials have yet to fully detail exactly what went wrong with the online system consumers were supposed to use to sign up for coverage. And Obama today did not explain the problems in detail or why they were not fixed before sign-ups opened to the public.

Officials say that at this point they are not considering extending the enrollment window beyond March 31. They also say they are not considering taking the website down for an extended period of time to address the problem, but instead will do that maintenance during low-traffic overnight hours.

But Carney did appear to open the door to not penalizing those whose efforts to sign up were confounded by the system's problems.

"The law is clear that if you do not have access to affordable health insurance, you will not be forced to pay a penalty," Carney said, without elaborating

Obama, meanwhile, did acknowledge that the failures would provide new fodder for opponents of the law, often referred to as "Obamacare." With the website not working as intended, "that makes a lot of supporters nervous," he said.

But he said, "it's time for folks to stop rooting for its failure."

In an ironic twist, the problems with the health care rollout were overshadowed at first by Republican efforts to delay or defund the law in exchange for reopening the government during the 16-day shutdown. The bill that eventually reopened the government included no substantive changes to the health care law.

With the shutdown over, GOP lawmakers have been ramping up their criticism of the health care law's troubles.

"An overhauled website isn't going to fix the underlying fact that Obamacare is not a workable law," Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., said. "I urge the president and my colleagues across the aisle to recognize the harm being done and set aside their pride to stop the most damaging provisions of the law, or better yet, to repeal and replace it."

Associated Press writer Laurie Kellman contributed to this report.

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64hoo wrote:
that's BS about this affordable healthcare if you have your own medical insurance that you pay why should you have to sign up for Obama care that's suppose to be for people who don't have medical insurance and when you don't sign up you get penalize just like a communist government telling you have to go with a government plan or pay a fine. if you have your own plan you should be exempted from Obama care like the senate and the house who don't have to join it.
on October 21,2013 | 09:48AM
false wrote:
No. If you're already are insured, you don't have to do anything. Only for the the non-insured. And why are they non-insured now? A lot of them were not accepted because of their health conditions and the younger ones felt no need for insurance. Obama care depends on the youngsters paying premiums to cover the older, health ridden costs. Fair? Depends on who you ask but it is big government socialism.
on October 21,2013 | 10:27AM
pcman wrote:
IRT false on old people. Old people are covered by Medicare. They have paid into it since the start of Medicare at 1-1/2% of their income. Then at age 65 they pay $93 a month per person. Actually, I think the money young people must pay in is to cover to costs for people who don't work or who work and don't pay any federal income taxes. That makes more sense to me, but the Obama administration is trying to blame the elderly people for the increase in costs of medical care.
on October 21,2013 | 01:26PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Not successful with shutting down Obamacare, Republicans are now trying another approach. And that is, they are now insinuating, pretending or just saying that the Obamacare website, with it's problems, IS Obamacare itself. But when the website is fixed, the Repubs will think of another way to shutdown Obamacare. Most likely, they may try another Republican government shutdown. (Ted Cruz said he will do ANYTHING to stop Obamacare).
on October 21,2013 | 03:55PM
thepartyfirst wrote:
hanale395: So you think we should accept everything Obama and the Democrats legislate and just lie down?
on October 21,2013 | 04:21PM
hanalei395 wrote:
You, yourself, should have a health plan, and should not depend on the ER for your health care.
on October 21,2013 | 04:41PM
false wrote:
64hoo: Please know the facts before you put your mouth in gear especially when you don't know what and who this affordable healthcare is geared for.
on October 21,2013 | 11:13AM
frontman wrote:
It's geared for the takers of Amerika....................socialism nothing less.
on October 21,2013 | 11:54AM
hanalei395 wrote:
SOCIAL Security ....socialism, nothing less.
on October 21,2013 | 04:22PM
Kuniarr wrote:
Actually the DJIA advancing from 8,000 to 15,000 is further proof that privatizing Social Security for the young generation would give them better prospects than Social Security.
on October 21,2013 | 05:48PM
hawaiikone wrote:
false, perhaps you ought to check the facts a little more as well. Right now, no one really knows what's happening, but with respect to those already insured, there's great concern that anyone receiving subsidized health insurance from a union, may have to pay a 40% tax on that amount. So, in a sense, you're right. You don't have to do anything but wait and see if your escalating premium costs are also going to be taxed.
on October 21,2013 | 12:56PM
64hoo wrote:
no false you don't know what your talking about why does the senate and house are exempt from obamacare you better read more on it or google healthcare bill 3200 key points and watch the video on some of the key points and yes you will get fined even if you have your own plan and don't take theres so your putting your mouth in your foot when you make dumb comments like that.
on October 21,2013 | 01:13PM
thepartyfirst wrote:
George W. Bush is to blame for this.
on October 21,2013 | 12:43PM
frontman wrote:
Obama: 'No excuse' for health care problems.......................No excuse for waving the Senate and House members from obamacare............No excuse for 2200 unions getting wavers ................ No excuse for obama's family being exempt from obamacare, I could go on for ever.......... but there is NO EXCUSE for obamacare.
on October 21,2013 | 09:51AM
AhiPoke wrote:
Notice that he never takes responsibility, for anything. He's "frustrated" but at other people, that by the way he contracted. He always finds other people to blame. My guess is that he'll blame bush for this mess and his supporters will agree.
on October 21,2013 | 12:51PM
South76 wrote:
You are right, the bucks never stops on his watch...it is always someone else's fault. Remember folks he's a lawyer; like any lawyer out there, he will defend his case/client no matter how wrong/guilty their case/client is.....it just a matter of time before this social experiment on health care come crumbling down...we have yet to see a self sufficient and efficient social programs. Social programs should have time limits on those who get on, 5-years to better yourself and if you don't then you are SOL, the social programs should never be a way of life.
on October 21,2013 | 02:05PM
atilter wrote:
so true !!!! with no "drop dead date", our culture is self-crippling. it only produces more ppl to feed at the public trough with no incentive to better themselves - there's no need or incentive to ween away from the "freebies". socialism - another name for unionism!!!
on October 21,2013 | 07:49PM
Kuniarr wrote:
Actually there is no excuse for Obamacare to exist because it is a bill that originated from the Senate which the US constitution says is not qualified to become law.
on October 21,2013 | 05:50PM
WhyBother wrote:
Doesn't instill a lot of confidence in the government's ability to implement the affordable care act, much less make good policy decisions. Anyone accountable?
on October 21,2013 | 09:58AM
pcman wrote:
IRT Why on accountability. Why ask? Bush is at fault. The Republicans screwed it up, of course. Obamacare is only another fiasco of Obama. Started 4 wars in addition to Iraq and Afghanistan. Lost all hope of US influence in the Middle East and North Africa. Loss of 4 Americans in Benghazi. Couldn't close Guantanamo. Take no prisoners, just kill them. Largest number of civilian deaths by US forces since Vietnam. Closing of over a dozen embassies at one time in fear of terrorism in North Africa. Promise to reduce medical costs by $2500 per person. Greatest increase of sexual abuse in the military due to the change of "no ask, no tell" policy which emboldens sexual bullies to abuse people of the same sex. Disclosure of the most widespread classified intelligence programs in the US. Worst education standing in the world. Worst record of aircraft accidents in the air and on the ground ever. And on, and on. Even Pres Jimmy Carter stated his relief of someone else taking over the notoriety of being the worst US president ever. LOL.
on October 21,2013 | 01:56PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Pcmon ,you forgot Paula Dean fiasco. Oh and the Boston Marathon bomb. Lol. Michael Jacksons death. Lol. Ahh what else bs should we blame the POTUS for?oh yeah, all the homicides in Chicago.
on October 21,2013 | 05:25PM
atilter wrote:
"...government's ability..." ----- an ox-y-moron !
on October 21,2013 | 07:51PM
fairgame947 wrote:
Considering the budgeted amount was $90 mil and the Feds have spend somewhere near $640 mil, there should be NO problems with this site. It seems to me it is just a sign on these to come - oh oops, they are already happening, how silly of me!
on October 21,2013 | 10:05AM
AhiPoke wrote:
They have already spent in excess of $300M in creating a website that doesn't work and may double that before it does. The contract went to an party insider instead of a company experienced in this type of system. The $300M is already about three times more than what a credible company would have cost. This president says, "Nobody is more frustrated than I am.", and to his supporters everything is good. Priceless. Folks, this country is going down the tubes, quickly. It's time for people to see this president for what he is, incompetent.
on October 21,2013 | 10:23AM
hawaiikone wrote:
Actually, the latest totals seem to be at 500 million, with the principle developer being a Canadian company.
on October 21,2013 | 12:58PM
Charliegrunt wrote:
Obama either needs a reality check or made to understand that we are not all as gullible as he would like us to be. The web site enrollment, which is the beginning, is already SNAFU. It's a system that should have been tested before implementation. It certainly has NOT shown to be worth the huge amount that was spent on it as reported on today's news, but that seems to be the norm. When Affordable Care or Obamacare was first discussed, I spoke to a number of people from Canada and other countries who have socialized medicine. I was told that in Canada, those who can afford it buy US health insurance and come across the border for medical care. I hear medical people today that say there will be a shortage of doctors because of the increase in workload, and non-medical people deciding what they will be paid. If this turns out to be the train wreck many predict, why can't we charge Obama and all the members of Congress who support this to repay the taxpayers for their screw up?
on October 21,2013 | 10:55AM
Maipono wrote:
You know what is so ironic? Obama could have avoided the shutdown, all the suffering by people who missed out in cancer treatment as a result of the shutdown and all the inconvenience to the veterans if he agreed with the Republicans and delayed the roll out of Obamacare for one year. The Republicans were actually helping him out, Obama must have known the exchanges weren't ready yet, he is such a smart person, but instead he selected the hard road for all Americans and forced a shutdown. That is bad judgement at best, and mean spirited at worst.
on October 21,2013 | 11:20AM
retire wrote:
You are correct Sir, it's apparent they weren't ready to implement Obamacare compentently at this time, so a year's defferal would have given them time to work out the problems, created a needed compromise, and kept the government running. Pride goeth before a fall.
on October 21,2013 | 11:30AM
frontman wrote:
obama knew the media, including this paper, would blame Republicans no matter how much he was at fault. It was his plan all along. If you think something is going to be fixed by December 15...................wrong. He wants another "crisis" so this rag and others will blame the Republicans while he is the problem.
on October 21,2013 | 11:58AM
MakaniKai wrote:
Shoots by December 15th Barry will hitting the links @ Olomana, Mid-Pac……….throwing out the shaka @ Island Snow, inconveniencing the Marines @ Kaneohe – what does he care…………..Let them have cake!
on October 21,2013 | 01:42PM
islandsun wrote:
Whats Obama going to do, hold money back from States that are inept. He is all talk and that is the problem with him. Always opening his mouth where it shouldn't be.
on October 21,2013 | 12:22PM
nalogirl wrote:
When I saw him on TV this morning I thought it was an infomercial. He's a joke!
on October 21,2013 | 01:46PM
frontman wrote:
He was so bad the woman behind him actually god sick.......................like the rest of free thinking Americans.
on October 21,2013 | 03:05PM
Kuniarr wrote:
Actually HR3590 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or Obamacare is a Senate bill and not HR3590 Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009 with Amendments because the Senate replace the entire contents and even the title of the original House of Representatives Bill HR3590 Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009 with Obamacare.
on October 21,2013 | 02:14PM
Kuniarr wrote:
Being a bill that originated in the Senate and not from the House of Representatives, Obamacare was not qualified to become law under Section 7 of the US Constitution.
on October 21,2013 | 02:55PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
on October 21,2013 | 05:27PM
Kuniarr wrote:
If you have nothing to say, don't say it.
on October 21,2013 | 05:36PM
Surfer_Dude wrote:
Too bad the video clip didn't run a little longer. The woman in red behind Obama, who has type 1 diabetes and is pregnant, passed out and started to fall before Obama caught her. Ted Cruz immediately said it was Obama's fault for letting a woman with a pre existing condition get insurance in the first place.
on October 21,2013 | 02:16PM
Kuniarr wrote:
Actually, HR3590 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or PPACA is a Senate Bill because the provisions and title of PPACA replaced the entire contents and title of HR3590 Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009 .
on October 21,2013 | 02:18PM
Kuniarr wrote:
Actually, HR3590 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or PPACA is a Senate Bill.
on October 21,2013 | 02:18PM
Kuniarr wrote:
And being a Senate PPACA bill and not a House of Representative bill, PPACA was not qualified to become law under Section 7 of the US Constitution.
on October 21,2013 | 02:21PM
Kuniarr wrote:
The PPACA replaced the entire contents and title of HR3590 Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009.

What the US constitution stipulates is that "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills."

But because the Senate replaced the entire contents and even the title of HR3590, the House of Representatives bill HR3590 Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009, HR3590 ceased to exist as it was replaced by PPACA.

And, PPACA, was therefore a Senate not a House of Representatives Bill. And because the PPACA is a bill that originated in the Senate, the PPACA is therefore an invalid law because it is a law not qualified to become a law under the US Constitution.
on October 21,2013 | 02:32PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Kuns responding to Kuns. Houston, we have a problem.
on October 21,2013 | 05:28PM
Kuniarr wrote:
If you do not know what to say or do, do not say it or do it.
on October 21,2013 | 05:37PM
MakaniKai wrote:
Constitution! What Constitution. Barry does as he pleases with the help of Pelosi and Reid. Average American either doesn’t vote or is more concerned with Facebook! Hey look FREE Health Care, yippee.
on October 21,2013 | 02:34PM
MakaniKai wrote:
Constitution! What Constitution. Barry does as he pleases with the help of Pelosi and Reid. Average American either doesn’t vote or is more concerned with Facebook! Hey look FREE Health Care, yippee.
on October 21,2013 | 02:35PM
st1d wrote:
not looking good for the pauls out there trying to get obamascam care. web sites not ready, or giving incorrect rates and plans. yet the december deadline to pay for health care and the january penalty date is still in force.

coulda shoulda avoided all this confusion and government shutdown by delaying the rollout of the scamcare.

looking even worse for the peters who are being robbed to fund the obamascam care while costs of incompetently providing pauls with scamcare rise each day.

on October 21,2013 | 02:41PM
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