In a White House news conference Monday, President Obama said the administration is bringing in the "best and the brightest" from both the public and private sector to shore things up on the glitch-riddled health care website (HealthCare.gov).
"Nobody is madder than me," said the president about the website failures, but he said the technical problems do not indicate a broader failure of the Affordable Care Act and he urged critics of the law to support it. In other words, the ACA is the substance, and the website is just the vehicle to implement it.
In a blog post, Health and Human Services officials are calling the corrective assault a "tech surge," with one insider telling explaining that includes "new code that includes bug fixes," "aggressively" monitoring the site's issues, and "deploying fixes to the site during off-peak hours on a regular basis."
Federal contractors have identified most of the main problems crippling the system though any administration hopes to correct the glitches and reboot the system by Nov 1 are unlikely, at least for major components of the system. It may take until December before things are running more smoothly. Dec. 15 is the deadline for people to sign up for coverage starting in January.
One reader to the NY Times makes a significant point:
Many people will say that this site should have been easy to create, after all, new websites are built all the time, right? Wrong. A few years ago I worked for a start-up that sold health insurance online. It was a big task to get the site built, largely because of the complexity of insurance plans and how every private carrier structures them differently and uses different rules. When I imagine what it must have been like to support exchanges in every participating state, it's nightmarish. People need to understand, it's not the web pages that are hard to build. It's all of the back-end systems. Even a couple of years might not be enough time to get it right out of the gate. And if they used overseas contractors, you can forget about ever getting it right.
Either that or it sounds like Obama's got his own version of Halliburton on his hands.
Meanwhile, during the news conference --to give you an idea what Americans and their media think is more important-- everyone obsessed over the woman who appeared to be fainting directly behind the president. The moment (video) is brief one; the woman stumbles only a bit before being steadied by both the president and the people around her, then is led gently away. "I got you. You're OK," Obama told the woman, before turning to the crowd and quipping, "This happens when I talk too long."
See? Obamacare is so bad that the mere mention of it is now making people sick. Or is this a mass conspiracy? (See the accompanying video!) Truthers and trolls quickly concocted their own theories, with commenters insisting the woman was a plant, something her husband has already addressed.
And then there's the state of Oregon, which found one way to get around enrollment on the federal health care website. In fact, the Oregon Health Plan managed to enroll 56,000 new people in Obamacare before the state's insurance exchange was even up and running.
How'd they do that? As the president pointed out in his news conference, they did it under the state's expansion of Medicaid. Using a fast-track enrollment system designed by the state, Oregon health officials sent out notices to 260,000 people already enrolled in the state's food stamps program. The notices informed them that based on their income status, they were pre-qualified for the Oregon Health Plan in 2014.
All these people had to do to enroll was make a phone call or send a form consenting to be enrolled. So far, 56,000 people have done that. That cuts the number of uninsured Oregon residents by 10 percent in its first two weeks.
Many Republican governors and state legislatures have turned down the federally-funded Medicaid expansion.