It has been over a month since the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and the opening up of markets on healthcare.gov, and the administration is faced with a list of issues and glitches. With the end of November as the target date for when all the bugs should be fixed, the Obama administration announced on Friday, October 25th that it was putting a private firm in charge of taking over the fix.
According to the website itself, the site is down from 1 A.M. to 5 A.M. EST every morning while Columbia-based Quality Software Services Inc. works on it. However, there is question as to what the problems are specifically.
In an address in the White House Rose Garden on October 21st, the President only acknowledged the fact that problems exist and that they were unacceptable; he never exactly said what was wrong. Jeffrey Zients, a former administrative official that was selected by the White House to asses the problems of the government run health care market, told reporters that the site is “fixable”. He went on to say however, that there are dozens of issues, a “Punch List”, that needs to be addressed.
According to users, the glitches have created a difficulty in creating accounts, an inability of users to compare plans, and trouble in confirming applicant identities. Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, released the numbers during a conference call on Wednesday that state that over 106,000 people have picked a health care plan, a number far lower than the Obama administration expected.
Nonetheless, those few Americans that have applied will begin to receive coverage on January 1st. Because the Affordable Care Act allows for individuals to go up to three months without health insurance before they must pay a fee known as the “shared responsibility payment”, people have until March 31st to enroll. However, there is a mid-month deadline in order to receive insurance the following month, hence the confusion as to whether or not February 15th was the deadline.
Both Democrats and Republicans have called for an extension of that date, and many congressmen want to know who is to blame. Republicans claim that the administration had two and a half years to implement it, since Obama signed the act in on March 23, 2010. Democrats have agreed and stated it hasn’t been a smooth rollout, but many are hopeful that this doesn’t mean the imminent death of the Affordable Care Act.
Both parties however, have criticized the President because millions of policyholders are receiving cancellation notices from their insurance companies despite Obama’s repeated pledge that no one would lose the coverage they already had. A bill that will allow Americans to keep their existing health care plans throughout 2014 without penalties looms Friday in the Republican controlled House.
More and more democrats, after an out lash against the rollout of the ACA, are threatening the White House saying that they might support the bill unless they are able to provide a better argument. The vote that is approaching is going to test the Democrats’ support and unity that has so far been maintained despite fierce Republican attacks.
“I think the Upton bill is terrible, but we need something else to vote for in order to keep our word to the American people,” “We told people in those plans that they were grandfathered in, and if they wanted to stay in them, they could, and we need to honor that.” said Representative Mike Doyle, Democrat of Pennsylvania.
Many believe this will affect the President’s credibility. Despite the website’s issues, the Obama administration is promising that by the end of November, the healthcare.gov website will be running smoothly. The deadline for enrollment is March 31st and anyone signed up for a health care plan will begin to receive coverage on January 1st.