Feeling pressure to provide the American public with a better understanding of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama addressed the problem on Monday at a dinner in Washington, D.C. Mainly, it was to explain what he had said on repeated occasions, that Americans with insurance “can keep their plan,” he announced again and again.
The purpose of the dinner engagement was to elaborate on the Obama administration’s statement that neither the federal insurance exchange nor the federal subsidies paid to insurance companies for low-income people can be considered “federal health programs,” according to a story in The New York Times.
“We are going to fix things that aren’t working the way they should be,” Obama promised. But a few hours after the dinner, healthcare.gov was once more inoperative as it was earlier in the day for 90 minutes. Moreover, the site is usually down from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. each day, which handicaps those who like to do their online business in the wee small hours of the morning.
But back to the basic concern about not having to change your plan if you already have coverage, Obama reiterated that if “you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you could keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law was passed.”
That was little consolation for the hundreds of thousands of people who have received notices discontinuing their individual policies because they failed to meet the minimum coverage specified under the ACA.
And these provisions would still stand even if the system was up and running, which may be vastly improved now that the president has called for help from Silicon Valley and experts from leading online companies that are used to handling an extraordinary number of requests.
Many of the critics of the program felt this should have been the process in the beginning rather than outsourcing the building of the website to CGI, a Canadian company based in Montreal. But to blame CGI for the snafu is not exactly fair since they were given such short notice to activate the site once the law was passed.
It was certainly stunning news last week that only six people were able to get online and sign up for insurance during the first hours of operation. Shortly thereafter, it was reported that some 240,000 were able to access the site and apply for insurance.
In three weeks, if the site is up and running at full capacity, the nation will get a better idea of the benefits or additional problems that come with Obamacare.