Obama owns up to healthcare law website fiasco

Scores of Americans who logged on to the website for signing up for the insurance plans, met with glitches and the website ran painfully slow.

Last Updated: Oct 31, 2013, 14:09 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

Washington: Expressing regret over the technical snags infesting the website of the healthcare law, championed by the US President himself, Barack Obama on Thursday owned up to the botched up rollout of the website, saying he took "full responsibility" for it and was "not happy" about it.

Scores of Americans who logged on to the website for signing up for the insurance plans, met with glitches and the website ran painfully slow.

Owning up to the problems, Obama said, "There`s no denying it - right now the website is too slow. Too many people have gotten stuck. And I`m not happy about it. And neither are a lot of Americans who need healthcare."

Assuring the citizens that the hiccups in the online process will soon be fixed, Obama said, "So there`s no excuse for it. And I take full responsibility for making sure it gets fixed ASAP. We are working overtime to improve it every day."

Speaking in Boston, Massachusetts, where the healthcare law was introduced in 2006, Obama also defended the law, enlisting its numerous benefits, saying, "Massachusetts has shown the model works".

Earlier Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also took the blame upon herself for the fiasco.

"Hold me accountable for the debacle," she told House of Representatives lawmakers. "I`m responsible."

The flood of computer problems since the website went online has been deeply embarrassing for the White House. The glitches have called into question whether the administration is capable of implementing the complex policy and why senior White House officials — including the president — appear to have been unaware of the scope of the problems when the health insurance markets, known as exchanges, opened.

One source of the troubles appears to be the testing procedures employed before the rollout three weeks ago. Several developers of the HealthCare.gov website told The Associated Press they were worried for months about the system’s readiness and whether the software meant to link key computer systems was being properly put through its paces.

In addition, congressional investigators raised concerns before the rollout that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had taken on the job of testing the computer systems for the new markets during the final weeks before the sign-ups opened Oct. 1. That job is often handled by specialized software companies.

Administration officials initially blamed heavy website traffic for the frozen computer screens that many people encountered when they first logged on. Since then, they have also acknowledged shortcomings with software and some elements of the system’s design, although the administration has yet to fully detail exactly what went wrong with the online system and who was responsible for the problems.

It appears the problems were well-known to some of those designing the system. One developer said that in the weeks leading up to the Oct. 1 launch, he and his colleagues huddled in conference rooms trying to patch deficiencies in computer code.

With Agecny Inputs