President Barack Obama pledged to stamp out the gremlins plaguing his administration's signature health-care overhaul Monday, saying there was no "sugarcoating" the difficulties faced by Americans hoping to sign up for insurance coverage online.
"Nobody's madder than me about the website not working as well as it should, which means it's going to get fixed," Obama said during an appearance at the White House Rose Garden. But he didn't specify exactly what went wrong or who was to blame for the problems, which include long waits to log onto the federally administered website and maddeningly long wait times once online.
There's "no excuse for the problems," Obama said. But he said tech industry experts were being brought in to help workers going 24/7 to fix the site, HealthCare.gov, which went live October 1. And he pointed out that the site isn't the only way to buy coverage.
"You can bypass the website and apply by phone or in person," he said. "So don't let problems with the website deter you from signing up or signing your family up or showing your friends how to sign up, because it is worth it. It will save you money."
A standoff with congressional Republicans over government spending and raising the federal borrowing limit -- triggered by GOP efforts to defund the program -- distracted public attention from the problems of the new health care system, popularly known as Obamacare. But with that standoff over, the GOP has turned its fire back onto the problems faced by the website and onto Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, calling for her to resign.
Sebelius attended Monday's Rose Garden remarks, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced that she was expected to testify at an October 30 hearing on the cause of the problems.
The committee is already scheduled to hold a hearing on Thursday, with website and administrative contractors CGI, Serco and Equifax set to testify on their roles in the situation. Sebelius...