Pres. Obama pledges to fix heath care glitches
By Kristen Welker and Daniel Arkin, NBC News
(NBC) - As the Obama administration scrambles to rectify the rocky rollout of the online health care marketplace, the Health Department said Sunday that it has enlisted the "best and brightest" to help fix the website's torrent of technical glitches and bugs as the president prepares to address the problems at the White House on Monday.
"Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team and help improve HealthCare.gov," the Department of Health and Human Services said in a blog post published Sunday.
The blog post also says technology officials have been working "around the clock" to ensure that individuals can create accounts and apply for health care coverage without any digital roadblocks.
"We're proud of these quick improvements, but we know there's still more work to be done," the post says. "We will continue to conduct regular maintenance nearly every night to improve the experience."
President Obama is "frustrated" by the problems in the rollout of his signature domestic policy achievement, Treasury Secretary and former White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew said Sunday.
"I think there's no one more frustrated than the president at the difficulty in the website," Lew said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday morning.
He added that the Health Department "has got plans to fix this and it has to fix this. It has to be done right."
Obama is expected to address the issues during an event in the Rose Garden just before noon Monday, the White House said.
"He will remind the public that while these technical problems are unacceptable, the health care law is about much more than just a website — it's about finally offering millions of Americans the health care security they deserve and giving new benefits and rights to those who have coverage today," a White House official said in a statement.
And Cabinet members and other key administration officials are expected to criss-cross the country in the weeks ahead to promote sign-ups in regions with the greatest number of uninsured people, the official told NBC News.
The problem-plagued rollout has weighed heavily on Obama, who expended much political capital to push the health care legislation through Congress before signing it into law in 2010.
During one of the president's daily health care briefings last week, Obama reportedly told the advisers gathered in the Oval Office that the White House had to take responsibility for the website's host of hitches and glitches, according to the Associated Press.
The White House has yet to announce how many people have been able to enroll for the health care marketplace, although administration officials told the AP that more than 476,000 insurance applications have been filed via federal and state exchanges.
That figure may be the most concrete measure of the apparently bungled beginnings of the Affordable Care Act until officials release comprehensive enrollment totals from federal and state-run markets in mid-November, according to the AP.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is projected to provide private health coverage to some seven million uninsured Americans during the six-month sign-up period, the Congressional Budget Office has said. It remains unclear if the hotly-debated program is on pace to reach that benchmark.
An internal memo obtained by the AP showed that the White House expected close to half a million people would sign up for the insurance markets during the first month.