No More Apologies: Why Obama Has to Get Mad About His Broken Obamacare Websites

Whenever a President of the U.S. stops believing his own spin, the people should take notice

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Charles Dharapak / AP

President Barack Obama speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington on Oct. 17, 2013

When the Obamacare website debuted on Oct. 1, Barack Obama walked into the Rose Garden and compared it to Amazon.com, Kayak.com and the iPhone. Unlike those operated by the other three, the Affordable Care Act portals to buy insurance were not working that day — but the President explained that the “glitches” had to do with traffic that “exceeds anything that we had expected.” Five days later, when asked about the continued problems, he told the Associated Press, “It is true that what’s happened is the website got overwhelmed by the volume.”

Now, 21 days after the launch, the story has changed. The “glitches” have been upgraded to “technical problems,” according to a White House official, and those problems are “unacceptable,” a fact Obama plans to make clear in another Rose Garden appearance midday Monday. What’s more, the problems are no longer simply a function of volume. “Our team has called in additional help to solve some of the more complex technical issues we are encountering,” reads an unsigned blog post that appeared Sunday on the Health and Human Services (HHS) website. “Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team.”

Political reality, unlike actual reality, is malleable stuff. A good politician can mold the former to fit his interests, even coast to electoral victory with the help of hobgoblins, money for ads and consultant pixie dust. The problems arise when political realities are inextricably linked to actual realities. While Obama could probably continue to tell Americans that the Obamacare rollout is little more than an iPhone app in need of an update, his health care law actually needs uninsured people to choose to sign up or it will fail. And so the spin can no longer stand.

(MORE: Obamacare’s Reviled Medicare Cuts Have Turned Out Better Than Expected)

According to the official statistics, 19 million unique visitors have gone to HealthCare.gov since the site debuted on Oct. 1. At first glance, that sounds pretty good, considering the goal is to get 7 million uninsured people to sign up by next spring. But because the statistic no doubt includes countless curious Americans just clicking through, it’s not a meaningful measure. Of the uninsured people in the U.S., Gallup found this month that 71% were either “not too familiar” or “not at all familiar” with the health-insurance exchanges that can be accessed through the government website. Nearly half, or 47%, said “not at all familiar.” The numbers had not moved since weeks before the Oct. 1 rollout.

The other official statistic that has been released focuses on the number of applications that have been at least started since the exchanges opened: 476,000. But it too is of dubious value. No one in government has said how many of those applications have led to enrollments. At the same time, the Obama Administration has been distancing itself from a memo obtained by the Associated Press that shows the Administration expected 494,620 people to actually enroll in the first month. “Projections are constantly changing based on experience,” backpedaled an HHS spokeswoman.

Whether a “glitch” or a dismissible offense, as former Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs put it, the rocky website rollout will not in itself doom Obamacare, which has actually risen slightly in popularity over the past few weeks as Americans have come to realize it is less damaging to the economy than those who oppose it with so much venom they shut down the government in protest. The President and his aides point to the example of Massachusetts, the only other state that has attempted a program similar to Obamacare. Many of the sign-ups there happened just before the penalties kicked in. For Obamacare, that won’t happen until next spring.

But the problem Obama now faces is one familiar to many Presidents before him: a need to demonstrate basic competency. One of the oldest polling questions in American politics is, “How much of the time do you trust the government in Washington?” Right now, according to Pew, just 19% of Americans say “just about always” or “most of the time,” which is not far from the historic low. As a President who continues to pin his policy prescription around a bigger government hand in economic development, Obama does not have the option of simply allowing his website to muddle along. His legacy will not hold up if his signature accomplishment fails to attract the uninsured. This is why he needs to stop apologizing for the failure, make some changes and show that he can get the job done. Look for him to start today, just before noon.

MORE: Obamacare Chief Defends Rocky Start on The Daily Show

1236 comments
HumphryWalker
HumphryWalker

I am here to testify on how Dr Lawrence help me to bring back my ex-husband who left me 3 months ago i got his email on the internet on an article how he had help so many  people,so i emailed the Dr and tell my problems to him and after that day he gave me assurance of 3days,to my greatest surprise my husband came back to me in the third day of contacting him,i want to say a very big thank you to drlawrencespelltemple@hotmail.com

ScottSomerville
ScottSomerville

It's not like the government is REALLY incompetent. We can kill people in other countries with unmanned drones, tap into our allies cell phones, hack Google's super secret fiber optic cable, and keep people locked up in Gitmo for practically ever.


Oh, right... Bush set all those programs up. Successfully. And then forgot to tell Obama how to turn it off.

Fastgirl
Fastgirl

The OBAMACARE roll out debacle has tainted not only OBAMACARE, but bigger government is better and liberalism knows what is best for everyone.

StephenSwain
StephenSwain

Good thing the drones aren't operated by the people in charge of Obamacare.  Mrs. Merkel and M. Hollande might have more to deal with than snooped phone calls.  Who runs this Obama government, anyway?  Were these people always in the government, or did some of them come from the "Private Sector", where results will be produced or heads will roll?

"Quick, quick, let's appoint a taskforce to fix it before the Senate and the House committees begin to investigate."  Oh ya!  They've already spent nearly half a billion USD and the technical difficulties have gone cosmic.  

Here's a tip, bureaucrats:  If the turkey won't work in simulation, under heavy loads, it won't work in the real world.  That's the law of the universe.  You might want to pay attention.

krw1943
krw1943

Getting mad at Obamacare? How about the golfing First Dunce who fopped this piece of junk upon us, our Emperor in Chief! What a tself-serving man-brat we have in the White House. Where in the hell are the adults in government (checks and balances) to slap this guy's wrists?

carolo43
carolo43

My gosh, the way people are going on over this, you would think it was a war started on false claims of weapons of mass destruction that lasted 10 years, cost 6 Trillion dollars and thousands of lives. It's a website!  Get over it. It will be fixed.

The very people who were complaining about AHC and never wanted it to succeed are the ones complaining the most because people are having problems signing up.    And it's becoming more popular than it was when it started as more people are actually checking it out and finding their rates are less, not more as the Republicans love to toot their horn about.

StephaniePorter
StephaniePorter

Why would some people not want healthcare? This makes no sense to me  : - /

RobCamp
RobCamp

I get my insurance through my employer, so for now, I don't really have to worry about the individual exchange.  But, I have a question for those that are more familiar with this law.  Why is it that they only want 7 million people to sign up when the reported number of uninsured is 50 million, what happens to the other 43 million?

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

It is a shame how no one seems to have an opinion about this.

Rightsmite
Rightsmite

This is another one of Obamas win -win situations. He does not care if the site works or not. Right now the law says that you must have healthcare insurance bought through the Obama care exchange.  The website is not working and the 10-20 million that Obama swore he wanted to have insurance are NOT going to sign up for this nightmare and put themselves on the radar, because they are illegals,  Illegals that Obama swore would not have access to his healthcare.  The rest of the people that HAD insurance are going to loose their insurance and since they will be unable to sign up in time, they will face a penalty by the new OBAMACARE I.R.S.. also known as the K.G.B.  There will be MILLIONS that will loose the healthcare they had, in fact many have already lost their healthcare because of Obamacare and more that cannot AFFORD this outrageous tax will have their savings confiscated by the IRS. . Remember Obama said that there was NO excuse for people loosing their life savings to a health care event, well he has taken care of that, because now OBAMACARE will steal their lifesavings and they wont have insurance that will pay for a healthcare event because  Obamacare will deny treatment and they will die so they wont have to worry about the loss of everything they had because Obamacare, working with the IRS will have confiscated everything they had.

small_axe
small_axe

Bottom line is that these website issues will get straightened out and the ACA will become beloved by the American people. 

Republicans who bow down to the billionaire engendered Tea Party and their knuckle-dragging rank-and-file will be eating out of the political garbage can for decades.

It's a beautiful day in America.

StephaniePorter
StephaniePorter

I just WANT EVERYONE in congress and the House of Reps. GONE!, "sweeping out" the "old dust" is L---O---N----G over-due, those "DUST BUNNIES" in Washing D.C. have OVER-STAYED their welcome. Some Republicans have proved themselves EVIL and now they have cemented the fact that they be known as the PARTY OF "NO" and "stand your ground". I think they start whining when they don't get their way all the time, they want to be in charge all the time and that just won't work.

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

One explanation is that so much effort is spent on countering obstruction by the Tea Party, insufficient attention has been paid to implementing the law.  Another complication is the cave to the private insurance industry without which this costly and complicated exchange system wouldn't even be necessary.  OK, there are glitches in the midst of bitches.  Get on with it.  See how it goes and adjust accordingly.  

Patriot60
Patriot60

These idi0ts can't put up websites that don't crash, but they want to fix national healthcare. LOL.

How about we just stop treating illegal aliens who are tying up our hospitals, doctors and resources.

StephenSwain
StephenSwain

@krw1943 It's "fobbed" the junk off on us.  Fobbed.  Fopped isn't really a verb, exactly, even in the present tense.

DianeRickmanCarder
DianeRickmanCarder

@carolo43   You need to wake up!!  This is a financial disaster for our country. All those ppl who had insurance cancelled now have no insurance--not even catastrophic.  They can't even get obamacare.  They can sign up but It wont start till spring at the earliest.  How can you be so nonchalant?  You can lie like obama does about ppl signing up but dont expect ppl to believe this anymore.  Just because someone opens the sight and applies so they can check the policies doesn't mean they took them out  

Gincoma
Gincoma

@carolo43 I take it your part of the problem! A lower class american who's collecting food stamps and using govt for asst, of course you love it cause people like me (middle class) have to pay higher premiums and taxes to support lay ass americans like yourself. 

MomSandee
MomSandee

@carolo43 

I think the intense reaction is fear of what is to come. We have all seen how ineptly other government offerings are run (The DMV, the post office) and we fear that at our time of most distress-- when we or those we love are ill and suffering, that we will have to wade through something else that is poorly run by the government. 

JudyJohnsonMcElmurray
JudyJohnsonMcElmurray

Wars end. This intrusion into one of the most personal of individual choices, one's decision about health insurance, is just beginning. The federal government is, at best inefficient, and at worst (more often than not), recklessly incompetent with money that comes from American taxpayers. Washington's bureaucrats have demonstrated repeatedly their cavalier approach to fiscal responsibility. Why would anyone with even the slightest grasp of basic economics or the history of big government run amok, believe a massive new bureaucracy, fertile ground for ever increasing incidences of corruption and fraud, will cost the American middle class trillions of dollars in the next decade alone.

Fastgirl
Fastgirl

@StephaniePorter When you don't need it or want it and can pay a fine of $95 instead of hundreds of dollars a month for premiums. When you don't have a lot of money it makes the decision not to have healthcare much easier.

StephenSwain
StephenSwain

@StephaniePorter They do want healthcare.  But they want it at a price they can live with, like the Brits or the Canadians or the Dutch or the Danes or the Swedes.  The challenge is that we have just cobbled another patch onto a mess.  Americans have a love/hate relationship with health and healthcare.  Why:  Because when we're sick we want to complain and blame it on somebody else, and when we're well, we don't want to think about it, prepare for it, plan ahead.  You know the drill Ms. Stephanie.  It's called a massive Approach/Avoidance dilemma.

LeoS
LeoS

@StephaniePorter Well, because to some of us don't want to pay for something we don't want, it is like someone force a sale down our throat that we must paid x amount of dollars for health coverage only to benefit someone else. Obamacare is basically forcing everyone to paid the medical bill even the bill is belong to someone else.

Fastgirl
Fastgirl

@RobCamp That is the minimum number of people they need to fund OBAMACARE. If enough young healthy people don't sign up and there is a pool of just sick people the sick people in the pool will have much higher rates. 

sn.default
sn.default

@Rightsmite Enter: fear-mongering hysteria. For the people reading the above comment, here's what you should be able to find within the post that isn't there: Life savings taken for not paying? Absolutely not, unless your life savings is $95. That is the cost of a single person who does not comply for 2014 in having insurance that this new plan will recognize as acceptable coverage. Furthermore, if you make less than $10K as a single individual, you don't get penalized. So, for anyone worried about losing your $95 life savings, you probably already live off the 'grid'. Also, in the long run it is favorable for your company, who may insure you, to find new plans that comply with the new government health insurance program as your company will be continually penalized per person that is uninsured through that company.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@Rightsmite Wow! Too many generalizations & talking points to even count. First of all, the law doesn't require one to purchase from the exchanges, that's just one option. Second, only Sean Hannity honestly believes illegal immigrants are the only people in this country lacking health insurance. Third, there's nothing in the law that requires people to lose their existing insurance unless what they currently have is so minimum in coverage that they don't qualify according to the ACA. Fourth, most of those that fit #3 can simply upgrade what they, have and not need to start over. And fifth, you should probably try to get at least some of your news from some source other than Fox. 

Openminded1
Openminded1

@small_axe You been on vacation axe, missed you for a few days. never get enough of your liberalism .

StephaniePorter
StephaniePorter

@formerlyjames, Yeah really! And WAY TOO MUCH effort on making everything not work for THE AMERICAN CITIZENS but work better for whoever is STALLING EFFORTS. Most in the government seem to have gotten TOO COMFORTABLE in their high offices and started to pass laws that ONLY THEY LIKED & NOT any of the American public. The government was not created for "lawless" makers to make their own laws without speaking to the the public in speeches and conferences. I'm tired of the GAMES they play in Washington, D.C., they ALWAYS wait UNTIL an ELECTION approaches to do anything and that means that the "take vacations and go to expensive parties" ON OUR TAX DOLLARS!! Our voting habits have CORRUPTED  the government with FAT CATS that have connections to WALL STREET. Stop voting for the same old people, the new candidate might actually do something we'll like, STOP being cattle HERDED TO SLAUGHTER.  :- I

La_Randy
La_Randy

@Patriot60 Because if we let a undocumented immigrant leave the hospital with a contagious disease the 'Real Americans' who hire them to do their yard work, house work and farm work on the cheap may get sick and die. Can't let that happen now, can we?

barneydidit
barneydidit

@Patriot60 Exactly! They should just be allowed to die where they stand! Everyone knows that the true measure of a country is the way it treats its richest 1%. 

carolo43
carolo43

@DianeRickmanCarder @carolo43 .........Yes it is Diane.  Our entire insurance industry has been a disaster for this country for DECADES.  They have collected premiums but when someone files a claim they are dropped like a hot potato.     Or someone gets cancer and the insurance company decides they will allow 6 chemo treatments when the doctor says his patient needs 15.   I have watched this nonsense going on for 50 years and never before has anyone stepped up to stop this scam.

These insurance companies did not need to cancel anyone!  They did it because they wanted to.  They would have been required to fix their shoddy practices and give the people the insurance coverage they should have been getting but they didn't want to do that.   You need to check how many  insurance policies are dropped every single year.   This is all just common practice for them.   

You are the one who needs to wake up if you think for one minute those policies would have been honored had someone become ill.  

carolo43
carolo43

@Gincoma @carolo43 ...........Give me a break by not judging me without knowing me.   I worked from the time I was 16 years old until I become disabled at 58.  42 years I also paid into social security.   When you speak of the older generation, keep in mind that back then people had jobs by the time they were 14, 15, 16 years old.   They didn't sit around, living off mom and dad until they were 28 like they do today.   We worked darned hard with no benefits and little pay.   No over-time, no sick days, no insurance, no vacations and paid our taxes and paid our social security without question.   I also never saw a doctor for 23 years until I was so ill I was disabled at 58.   Had I had insurance and been able to see a doctor, I would have been able to work until normal retirement age.

Yes, I am a "lower class" american.   I am a senior citizen so I guess that makes me dirt in your eyes.   And when you become my age, you will also get social security that someone else is paying for.   Grow up.

carolo43
carolo43

@MomSandee @carolo43 ..........This is the same reaction the Republicans had over social security and Medicare and I see we have a country full of Republicans all liking those programs and collecting from them very nicely.   It's very easy to find problems with something that has not even been implemented yet before people even know how it will work.    What people should be concerned with is the fact they have been paying insurance companies premiums for junk insurance that would not have done them any good had they needed it.  

barneydidit
barneydidit

@JudyJohnsonMcElmurray "one's decision about health insurance" Judy?  My neighbor with a pre-existing condition would have LOVED to have been able to make a decision about his health insurance, but couldn't under the old system. Even my wife couldn't get coverage for her last pregnancy because we found out about it after she was downsized from her old job, and before we could get her own business going well enough to buy an HSA.   You guys on the right keep conveniently forgetting about how many new people were being added to the ranks of the uninsurable prior to Obamacare.

carolo43
carolo43

@LeoS @StephaniePorter ..........Insurance is broken down into groups of what you can afford and what is covered.  I'm sure my policy covers prostrate screening and vasectomies, too, but that doesn't mean I will have a need for either one of those.   They can not charge women more than men so a whole slew of things are covered including things you may not need.   There is not an insurance policy anywhere that says it will cover heart attacks but not diabetes.   It will cover colon screening but not mammograms.    It will cover this but not that.

No one has a crystal ball.    You could wake up just feeling great tomorrow morning but at 5 o'clock you could be in intensive care fighting for your life due to a blood  clot in your brain.    

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

@LeoS @StephaniePorterLeo S- I would like to mention that I vehemently opposed the War In Iraq, which was unaffordable (we are still paying for it- soldiers maimed for life!!!!- for what?) Bush SR did not invade Iraq for a reason. The decision to go to War in Iraq was reckless. We all paid for it. Some of us lost family members to it. They  will never be finished paying for it.

PS There are arguments about how costly that War in Iraq was. Here are a few of them:

The Three Trillion Dollar War is a 2008 book by Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard Professor Linda Bilmes, both of whom are American economists.

The book examines the full cost of the Iraq War, including many hidden costs.[1] The book also discusses the extent to which these costs will be imposed for many years to come, paying special attention to the expenditures that will be required to care for wounded veterans. The authors conclude by illustrating the opportunity cost of the resources spent on waging the war. The book was a New York Times and international best-seller and has been translated into 22 languages.

The total cost of $3 trillion is comparable to that found in other studies. The Joint Economic Committee of Congress estimated that the war would cost $3.5 trillion,[2] while the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projected that the total cost will reach between $1.4 and $2.2 trillion.[3] The Stiglitz-Bilmes work builds on an earlier study by Yale economist William Nordhaus, who predicted in 2002 that the war could reach $2 trillion if it went badly.[4] Numerous economists, including James K. Galbraith of the University of Texas and Nobel Laureate Lawrence Klein have supported the methodology in the book. Economist Fred Foldvary also wrote a positive review of the book in Econ Journal Watch in 2008. He believes better knowledge of both the budgeted and implicit costs of the war as spelled out in the book will further a more coherent dialogue on present and future related policy matters.[5]

Openminded1
Openminded1

@La_Randy @Patriot60bleeding heart liberal . a lot of those so called immigrants also rape, steal, home invade, murder , rob and assault and cause traffic accidents without insurance and take off running before police arrive. Are you talking about those immigrants? The fine up standing ones. do not get me wrong there are some very hard working decent mexicans who deserve a chance in america, but like the bad Muslims they do not wear name tags with I am a good mexican.

JudyJohnsonMcElmurray
JudyJohnsonMcElmurray

Just to make it clear that you don't know everything you think you know about those you self-righteously condemn as "on the right." I abhor war, but honor our servicemen and women. I support gay marriage. I am pro-choice. I favor the decriminalization of marijuana. I don't smoke, drink, or toke, and I don't own a gun. I'm not on the right, but I'm right that the ACA is anything but affordable.

JudyJohnsonMcElmurray
JudyJohnsonMcElmurray

I'm not "on the right." I'm solidly in the middle, fiscal conservative, social liberal. I believe in smaller government, and much less of Washington bureaucrats taking my money and distributing 85% of it to keep themselves in jobs, and maybe, maybe 15% to the truly needy. Sorry for your plight. Everyone has woes. I'm a single mom still partially supporting two kids: no "baby mama," my husband died leaving a mountain of debt. Don't want a handout or EXPECT one. And I've been a public school teacher long enough to see that a helping hand (translation: bullying intrusion) from your buddies in Washington can f--- up anything and everything. By the way, my premium doubled, my deductible tripled, and while they'll pay for preventive doctor visits, they'll no longer pay for visits related to PRE-existing conditions or meds. Try to see the whole picture before you point fingers, my friend. In this world, the poor never pay; the truly wealthy can pay and pay and pay and not feel the pinch. So, who does foot the bill for massive, poorly run, corrupt government entitlement programs? I do, and the rest of the working middle class.

lmnorsk65
lmnorsk65

Both sides of the aisle voted for the Iraq war. Nevertheless, the Iraq war and Obamacare represent failed progressive ideas that the government is the solution to all perceived or imagined problems. Trying to bring democracy to the Middleast was a bad idea. Islam is a totalitarian religion which has been in a civil war for 1,500 years. Obamacare was rolled out literally in the dead of night with no one reading it or knowing what was in it (Pelosi). Apparently the general contractor on the Obamacare website was the federal government. What possibly could have gone wrong? The government can't even run the Post Office on a break even basis and after approximately $200 billion being spent on the Head Start Program, an independent study ordered and paid for by Congress indicates that the program does not  give children measurable  benefits after kindergarten! So we trust our health/insurance system to the government. Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Maybe the apple will fall up from the tree this time!

LeoS
LeoS

@CerebralSmartie I am not going to agree nor disagree about whether US starting the War in Iraq was bad idea. At any rate, this Obamacare is worse to me, we are basically force to pay for the low-income people and all the illegal immigrants. Why should anyone of us barely make enough money to get by have to support these people which enable them to clearly taking advantage of us.