Obama addresses widespread health care problems
By JULIE PACE
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama acknowledged widespread problems with his health care law's rollout were unacceptable, as the administration scrambles to fix the cascade of computer issues.
Obama spoke from the Rose Garden, his first health care-focused event since the scope of the problems became apparent. The troublesome rollout of the health care exchanges has been a glaring embarrassment for Obama's signature legislative achievement.
The president discussed steps the administration is taking to address the failures, including ramping up staffing at call centers where people can apply for insurance by phone. The Department of Health and Human Services said it also is bringing in technology experts from inside and outside of government to help diagnose the issues.
HHS, in a memo released Sunday, said it also was putting in place "tools and processes to aggressively monitor and identify parts of HealthCare.gov where individuals are encountering errors or having difficulty using the site, so we can prioritize and fix them."
Obama was flanked at the Rose Garden event by people the White House said already enrolled during the first three weeks of sign-ups. Enrollment figures are being closely guarded by the administration, which plans to release the first round of data in mid-November.
Officials did say during the weekend nearly a half million applications have been filed through the federal- and state-run exchanges. Users must file applications before they can enroll, in part to find out whether they are eligible for government subsidies.
The White House also said approximately 19 million people have visited HealthCare.gov since Oct. 1.
Administration officials initially blamed a high volume of interest for the frozen screens many people encountered. Since then, they also have acknowledged problems with software and some elements of the system's design.
Despite the widespread problems, the White House has yet to fully explain exactly what went wrong with the online system consumers were supposed to use to sign up for coverage.