HEALTH

Healthcare enrollment glitches: Obama promises quick fix

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Some experts now estimate that as many as five million lines of computer software code may need to be completely rewritten to fix the healthcare website glitch issue – which President Obama vowed would be fixed.

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"There's no excuse for the problems," he said on Monday. "And these problems are getting fixed. But while we're working out the kinks of the system, I want everybody to understand the nature of the problem."

Without explaining exactly where the problem lies, for the first time the President did say that the number of people trying to enroll is not the problem – the volume just exacerbates problems that already exist.

An out-of-character, 20-minute, apology-laden pitch came from the President, who admitted that the website wholly designed to implement his signature healthcare law, has been a bit of a flop.

"There's no sugar coating it -- the website has been too slow, people have been getting stuck during the application process, and it's safe to say nobody is more frustrated by that than I am," he said.

The website now encourages users to call if they are having problems online, or download forms and mail in hard copies.

Critics, however, say it’s a sign that the entire program should be put on hold.

"It's been a fiasco," said Senator McCain. "Send Air Force One out to Silicon Valley, load it up with smart people, bring it back to Washington, and fix this problem."

Other Republican leaders continued to tweet during the president’s speech, including Senator McConnell:

When a visit to obamacare website make a trip to DMV seem pleasant, it's time for the president to consider delaying this rushed effort

And Speaker Boehner:

POTUS is right about one thing: #ObamaCare is more than a website, it's also driving up costs, hurting jobs

And now, it looks like they may get their wish to grill Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius. They turned up the pressure after she made a "Daily Show" appearance.

However, Sebelius declined to appear for a hearing on the Hill, and her office now says she intends to testify. But is there a fair barometer?

So far, the administration says it has had 19 million unique visits to the site since its launch this month. And as of Saturday, about 476,000 applications have been filed -- but that’s just applications, it doesn’t show how many people have successfully enrolled.

And as if to underline the issues with the wait, a pregnant diabetic woman standing behind the president nearly passed out while he was speaking.

Another individual selected to stand with President Obama was D.C. resident David Hall, who we interviewed on October 4.

“I enrolled," Hall said. "Had no issues, was able to look at all the different plans, and then decide what plan I wanted to go with. It took probably 15 minutes."

But Hall enrolled with the D.C. exchange – one of the few in the country – in part due to its small size. Its far more massive site, healthcare.gov, is responsible for 34 states and experiencing the biggest issues.

In the meantime, the President stressed on Monday that individuals can now call to enroll, or go to sign-up locations to fill out a paper application.

The White House plans to send top officials across the country to encourage people to keep trying to enroll, and remind them they have until March 15 to sign up -- or face an end-of-the-year tax penalty.

One question being asked is if the White House knows exactly what needs to be fixed. If they do, so far no one in the administration is saying what. But they are now promising a “tech surge” to bring in some of the best and brightest computer minds in the country to look for the quickest fix.

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