President Obama confronts Obamacare criticism

10:33 AM, Oct 20, 2013   |    comments
President Obama (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, AP)
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(USA Today) -- With the government re-opened and the debt ceiling dispute deferred, President Obama and his team now face another big story this month: The error-ridden rollout of the new health care law.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew went on NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday to say that officials are working around the clock on Internet problems that are preventing people from signing up for new health care exchanges.

"I think that there's no one more frustrated than the president at the difficulty in the website," Lew said.

Obama himself plans to discuss the challenges Monday at what the White House is billing as a "health care event."

NEWS: Tech experts: Health exchange site needs total overhaul

USA TODAY reported that "the Federal Healthcare Exchange was built using ten-year-old technology that may require constant fixes and updates for the next six months and the eventual overhaul of the entire system."

On Meet The Press, Lew said that "the huge outpouring of interest shows how important it is that we get this right. There are millions of Americans who want health insurance. It's important for our economy for them to have health insurance."

The "real test," the Treasury Secretary said, comes in January, when officials learn how many people are enrolled in health care exchanges, and the quality of care that they're receiving.

Said Lew: "If we get that right, everyone will regret that the early weeks were choppy on the website -- but the test is, are people getting coverage and are they getting the care that they need? And we're confident we're going to be on track to do that."

In the meantime, congressional Republicans who opposed Obamacare are spotlighting its early problems.

The office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., sent out an e-mail Sunday featuring a June 7 quote from Obama: "I think it's important for us to recognize and acknowledge this is working the way it's supposed to."

Appearing on CBS' Face The Nation, McConnell said Obamacare is "the worst piece of legislation passed in the last half century ... we need to get rid of it."

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