President Obama: Expect months of 'glitches'
By: Mackenzie Weinger
October 1, 2013 06:01 AM EDT
President Barack Obama on Monday said he “absolutely” expects glitches and problems with Obamacare as enrollment kicks off Tuesday.
But even with the inevitable complications and issues that accompany the new health insurance exchanges, the president told NPR News he is “confident” the law will offer “the prospect that any American out there who does not currently have health insurance can get high-quality health insurance.”
“In the first week, first month, first three months, I would suspect that there will be glitches,” Obama told NPR News’ Steve Inskeep in an interview airing on Tuesday, but conducted Monday afternoon before the shutdown. “This is 50 states, a lot of people signing up for something. And there are going to be problems. And I guarantee you, there will be problems because we’ve got precedent. When Massachusetts, just one state, set this up, it took quite a long time. It took several months before everything was smoothed out.”
Obama added that people should “discount all the political talk” and take a look at what is offered before deciding whether it works for them and their families.
“They don’t have to take my word for it,” the president told NPR News. “They don’t have to take the word of some of these groups that have been running ads saying Obamacare is a disaster. Discount all the political talk, go to the website healthcare.gov directly, and see whether or not this is something that’s good for you.”
While noting that there are a number of potential problems that await those trying to sign-up for Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges, Obama reiterated he is “very confident” in the law’s potential benefits.
“And I am very confident that despite some glitches – right, there may be some websites that, you know, crashed early, there may be some call centers where it’s taken a little bit too long – that despite all that, the basic prices that are going to be available to people and the choices that are going to be available to people provide us for the first time the possibility, the prospect that any American out there who does not currently have health insurance can get high-quality health insurance,” he said.
As for the shutdown, Obama again dismissed the idea that he would have been willing to negotiate a delay in Obamacare and the individual mandate.
“Steve, let’s be clear: We’re not going to delay the Affordable Care Act,” he said.
“And the notion that we would even delay them getting that kind of peace of mind, potentially going to a doctor to get treated for illnesses that they currently have, simply because the Republicans have decided ideologically that they’re opposed to the Affordable Care Act, is not something that we’re going to be discussing,” the president added.
Inskeep later asked Obama what he could offer to avert a shutdown.
“Steve, when you say, ‘What can I offer?’ — I shouldn’t have to offer anything,” he said. “They’re not doing me a favor by paying for things that they have already approved for the government to do. That’s part of their basic function of government; that’s not doing me a favor. That’s doing what the American people sent them here to do, carrying out their responsibilities.”
Inskeep also asked the president the upcoming debt ceiling issue, noting that “you’ve said you will not negotiate over an extension of the debt ceiling.”
“Absolutely, I will not negotiate,” the president said. “And the reason, Steve, is because if we establish a pattern whereby one faction of one party controlling one chamber in Congress can threaten default, that the United States of America is no longer meeting its obligations and fulfilling the full faith and credit of the United States unless they get 100 percent of what they want, then we’ve established a pattern that fundamentally changes the nature of our government.”
“At that point, any president – not just me – any president is subject to that kind of blackmail continuously,” he added.