President Barack Obama has been fervently trying to sell his health care law, the Affordable Care Act this past week, as problems continued to persist with the law’s Marketplace, HealthCare.gov. The President gave his first address reassuring Americans in a Rose Garden speech delivered on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013. Obama then followed up by appearing in an “Organizing For Action” video released on Wednesday, Oct. 23, and then dedicated his weekly address released on Saturday, Oct. 26 summing up his message from the week. On Sunday, Oct. 27 the White House announced Obama will continue his sales pitch in a speech in Boston on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013.
The President addressed the site’s problem a day after the Department of Health and Human Services first pledged to repair all the technical glitches. HHS also released on Sunday, Oct. 20 the preliminary numbers of those that have signed up for insurance, boasting it is “nearly half a million.”
President Obama first formerly addressed HealthCare.gov’s technical problems in a speech delivered on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 in the White House Rose Garden. While selling all the positives associated with the law, aside from the problems with the Marketplace, which the President made it seem as a mere blip in the larger quest to help Americans, Obama also urged Americans to still sign up for the insurance.
The President’s address was mostly threefold; acknowledging the marketplace website problems, assuring Americans the health insurance and the law are still “good,” and finding a way to somehow to still cast blame on the Republicans and to curb Democrat doubt.
In acknowledging the website’s technical problems, Obama explained them in a way meant to cause minimum damage; “The website that’s supposed to make it easy to apply for and purchase the insurance is not working the way it should for everybody. There’s no sugar-coating it. The website has been too slow. People have getting stuck during the application process. And I think it’s fair to say that nobody’s more frustrated by that than I am.”
Obama also admitted the problems are upsetting him, stating; “Nobody’s madder than me about the fact that the website isn’t working as well as it should. which means it’s going to get fixed.” And also said; “There’s no excuse for the problems. And these problems are getting fixed.” In a matter of fact tone, the President indicated he will not stand for the technical glitches to persist.
The President also emphasized in the speech that there are two other main ways to sign up for the health insurance offered, by phone and in-person; Obama then gave the contact numbers for the 24-hour phone service, and explained how they work.
President Obama would begin his numerous attempts to reassure the public about the healthcare insurance and the law; “The product is good. The health insurance that’s being provided is good. It’s high quality, and it’s affordable. People can save money — significant money — by getting insurance that’s being provided through these marketplaces. And we know that the demand is there. People are rushing to see what’s available.”
Using a sales analogy, the President expressed how much he wants to the health care website to function properly; “Precisely because the product is good, I want the cash registers to work, I want the checkout lines to be smooth, so I want people to be able to get this great product.”
It would also not a speech by President Obama if he did not find a way to blame the Republicans. Speaking of Republicans, Obama said; “It’s time for folks to stop rooting for its failure, because hardworking middle-class families are rooting for its success. And if the product is good, they’re willing to be patient.” The President also spent a portion of the speech mocking the Republican efforts to block the law’s implementation, and blamed the recent government shutdown on their efforts. Obama however, did realize the GOP will rank up their efforts to delay the rest of the law now that they have been proven right; “And I’m sure that given the problems with the website so far, they’re going to be looking to go after it even harder.”
Obama also wanted to curb any doubts in the minds of Democrats. Speaking about rising doubts, the President stated; “Let’s admit it, with the website not working as well as it needs to work, that makes a lot of supporters nervous because they know how it’s been subject to so much attack, the Affordable Care Act generally.”
In conclusion, President Obama was trying to accentuate that the website will be fixed in enough time before its many deadlines. Obama pointed out that there is still a lot of time until the insurance starts on Jan. 1, 2014 and until the first premium payment due, Dec. 15, 2013. He also guaranteed that all Americans who are required to purchase insurance would be able to, that there was still enough time before the March deadline; “The prices that insurers have set will not change. So everybody who wants insurance through the marketplace will get insurance, period.”
The President prepared a video released on Wednesday, Oct. 23, for “Organizing For Action” the “non-profit advocacy group,” that is based on the President’s pool of campaign supporters. In that video, Obama acknowledged the problems with the site, saying; “By now you have probably heard that the website has not worked as smoothly as it was supposed to. But we’ve got people working overtime in a tech surge to boost capacity and address the problems. And we’re going to get it fixed.” However, President still asked his supporters to help him urge Americans to sign-up for the law’s new insurance options; “Fortunately, that’s what you do best: organizing. So I’m asking you to help tell your friends, families, co-workers, classmates, neighbors and anyone else about what the Affordable Care Act can mean for them.”
President Obama also sought to reassure Americans in his weekly address entitled “Enrolling in the Affordable Care Act Marketplace” released Saturday morning, Oct. 26, about his new health care law, and the problem with the insurance Marketplace, HealthCare.gov. The President reiterated most of his previous comments during the week about the health care law and the Marketplace’s problems, while still urging Americans to still sign up for the health insurance.
President Obama acknowledged the technical difficulties the website is experiencing, and promised they will be fixed; “And that’s why, in the coming weeks, we are going to get it working as smoothly as it’s supposed to. We’ve got people working overtime, 24/7, to boost capacity and address these problems, every single day.”
He also still championed and expressed confidence in the law, hoping to convince the American public as well; “I’d still be out there championing this law even if the website were perfect. I’ll never stop fighting to help more hardworking Americans know the economic security of health care. That’s something we should all want.”
The President will be in Boston on Wednesday, Oct. 30, selling his health care law at historic Faneuil Hall. The President intends to reassure the American public on the health care law, and discuss the steps that being taken to fix all the technical difficulties. The President chose to defend his law in that spot, because it was there that former 2012 Republican Presidential candidate, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney signed his health care law. White House deputy senior adviser David Simas explained; “It is the Massachusetts experience that shows you what happens when people put politics aside and make sure that people are covered. Faneuil Hall, and that historic setting, is a perfect backdrop to show Democrats and Republicans working together.”
The Obama administration has been downplaying the technical problems associated with the signing up process on the new health care website, that are turning millions of Americans visiting the site away, and preventing others from completing the insurance sign up process. The HealthCare.gov website is the main marketplace for 36 states; the remaining states have their websites developed. The website was supposed to be a portal to allow Americans to shop for health insurance that fits with the new law. There are two major technical problems with the site; it cannot withstand the traffic volume and its “platform design.”
Americans without insurance have until March 31, 2014 to sign up for health insurance before the individual mandate takes effect imposing a tax penalty on Americans, who do not have insurance or do not have insurance that meets the standards of the new law. The problems have been attributed to delays in development during the 2012 Presidential campaign, and last minute testing, which only began two weeks before the site was to go live on Oct. 1, 2013.
President Obama has now given Republicans fuel to fight healthcare law, and a perfect reason to demand the delay of the individual mandate. Republicans are also now having the support of some Democrats. The united front Obama had with Democrats over his sweeping health care law is breaking down. Unless the website problems are fixed and do not keep on with continuing new problems, the President will have to delay the individual mandate, and concede that the Republicans were right with the foresight that the implementation of such a law would be disastrous and impossible.
President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address: Enrolling in the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, Oct. 26, 2013 Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3
President Barack Obama’s Remarks on the Affordable Care Act, Oct. 21, 2013
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. Her specializations are US, Canadian & Israeli politics.