WASHINGTON – President Obama declared Monday that “nobody is madder than me” about the failures of the government’s health care website, but said the technical problems did not indicate a broader failure of the Affordable Care Act.
“We did not wage this long and contentious battle just around a website. That’s not what this was about,” Obama told supporters during 25-minute remarks in the Rose Garden.
The president acknowledged that HealthCare.gov had not provided the easy opportunity to sign up for health insurance that White House officials promised for months. But he said that some people had managed to get insurance, and he urged critics of the law to support it.
“It’s time for folks to stop rooting for its failure, because hardworking, middle-class families are rooting for its success,” he said.
The White House event was intended as a response to mounting criticism of the health care law in the wake of the website’s failures. Many people have been unable to sign on to the site or create accounts, and technical advisers who have worked on the site say it could take weeks or months to fix.
Obama said there was “no excuse” for the problems, but he did not say whether anyone in the government would be fired because of the failures.
Some Republicans have called for Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, to be dismissed over the site’s technical problems.
Obama also sought to highlight other ways to sign up for insurance, including expanded call centers and in-person “navigators” who are at hospitals and health care centers around the country. People can also download a form to fill out and mail in, he said.
Obama read out a toll-free telephone number – 800-318-2596 – that people could call to sign up for insurance instead of going to the website. He said waiting times had been only one minute on the phone, though he acknowledged that his reading the number on television could change that.
Several calls to the number immediately after he read it produced busy signals.