Amid the continuing government shutdown and technical problems with the exchange website, President Barack Obama urged Americans not to give up on healthcare reform in an interview with the Associated Press.
Obama said the glitches are a postive sign, the result of much greater interest than anticipated, the AP reported. "Folks are working around the clock and have been systematically reducing the wait times," he said.
The interest in the online exchanges also proved healthcare reform would not harm the healthcare industry, Obama said. "It turns out that choice and competition work," he told the AP. "So what's happened is you've got private insurers who have bid to get into this system to offer affordable healthcare at significantly lower prices than anybody could buy in the individual market, because basically they're now part of a big group."
Obama urged patience as the site, which was down for repairs over the weekend, gets fixed. "[E]ach day the wait times are reduced," he said. "Each day, more and more people are signing up, and the product will save you money."
When the exchange site opened last week, its user volume was about five times over capacity, according to administration officials. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services plans to address the glitches by taking it down for a few hours each day at 1 a.m. EDT, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.
Obama also addressed the ongoing government shutdown, blaming its continuation on House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) refusal to bring a "clean" bill to the floor. "We can vote to open the government today," Obama said. "The only thing that is keeping that from happening is Speaker Boehner has made a decision that he is going to hold out to see if he can get additional concessions from us."
To learn more:
- here's the interview