World News

Obama 'Frustrated' by Healthcare Glitches, Vows to Fix Them

U.S. President Barack Obama says he is frustrated by technical problems with his administration's new online health insurance marketplace. But, he says the kinks in the system will "get fixed" and the law that created it is a good deal for the American people.

In a speech at the White House Rose Garden on Monday, Mr. Obama said "nobody is madder" than him that the HealthCare.Gov site has not worked properly since it opened on October 1.

The website is a key element of the president's 2010 Affordable Care Act, which has also become known as Obamacare and was designed to make it easier for Americans to obtain private health insurance.

Internet users have been unable to create accounts, received confusing error messages and pages that loaded slowly or failed to respond.

President Obama said his administration has recruited some of America's best private sector technology experts to get the website working faster and better.

Mr. Obama said the Affordable Care Act is more than "just a website." He said he fought for it, despite Republican opposition, to ensure that millions of uninsured Americans can get the same "quality" and "affordable" health care as others.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed Mr. Obama's remarks in a Twitter post, saying Obamacare "costs too much and is not working the way they promised."

McConnell also reiterated Republican calls for the president to delay what he called "this rushed effort."

Mr. Obama was joined in the Rose Garden by Americans who have already applied for health insurance through the site or are planning to do so.

He said he recognizes that Republicans have made blocking Obamacare "their signature idea." He said he is willing to work with anyone on ideas to make the law work better, but called for opponents to, as he put it, "stop rooting for its failure."

Demands by congressional Republicans to defund or delay Obamacare contributed to a partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government earlier this month.

The Republicans demanded the changes to the healthcare law as a condition for funding government operations beyond October 1, but Mr. Obama and his allies in the Democratic-led Senate refused, leading to the 16-day partial shutdown.

It ended with a bi-partisan deal to re-open the government and avoid a U.S. debt default. The agreement did not include major changes to Obamacare.

The Health and Human Services Department, which administers HealthCare.Gov, said Sunday its experts are updating the site with new code that includes bug fixes and conducting regular tests to improve the user experience.

The Obama administration initially blamed the glitches on a high volume of people trying to access the site. It has since acknowledged broader problems with the system, while insisting public demand for the product is strong.

Mr. Obama said more than half a million applications for health insurance have been received through since October 1. Users must file applications before they can enroll in a plan.

He also said "thousands" have enrolled. U.S. media say the administration has a goal of enrolling seven million Americans by March 31. Individuals who are not insured are mandated to sign up for a plan by that date or face a penalty.

Critics say that if not enough young, healthy people join the health plans, premiums may rise for those who do enroll.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs