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Washington Week: Focus Will Continue on Health Care Website

  • Michael Bowman

This week will bring a renewed focus on the flawed U.S. government website where Americans are supposed to sign up for private health care insurance. The so-called “Obamacare” website is apparently functioning better, but far from perfectly, after the November 30 deadline for major improvements promised by the administration.

Two months after healthcare.gov’s unveiling, the problem-plagued website remains a work in progress despite President Barack Obama’s assurances weeks ago.

“By the end of this month we anticipate that it is going to be working the way it is supposed to,” he said.

The Affordable Care Act’s troubled rollout has been a major embarrassment for an administration that had been regarded as technologically-savvy.

“There is no question the rollout on the Affordable Care Act was much tougher than we expected," Obama said. "But I want everybody here to understand: I amgoing to see this through.”

Obama’s approval ratings have sunk in recent weeks, and congressional Republicans, who opposed Obamacare from the start, have been energized.

“I do not believe you can fix this law to lower the cost and increase access [to health care]," said Representative Kevin McCarthy. "We have to scrap it and start anew.”

“I do not think Obamacare has failed,” said Democratic lawmakers like Steny Hoyer, who continue to defend the law. “Access to Obamacare has been a failure at this point in time. And it needs to be fixed. So from that standpoint, the substance of Obamacare has yet to be tested. And to the extent it has been tested, it has been a success for millions of people.”

The House of Representatives gets back to work this week after a Thanksgiving break, the Senate next week. Lawmakers have until the middle of the month to agree on a federal budget. Spending authority expires in January, and the United States risks another partial government shutdown unless it is extended.
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