As pressure mounts on the Obama administration to fix major bugs on the Website for the Affordable Care Act—commonly referred to as Obamacare—the president announced earlier this week that there would be a “tech surge” to fix glitches that have plagued the site since it rolled out.
While President Obama has expressed frustration over the technical issues and promised help was on the way from both the public and the private sectors, there were no specific details as to which companies or tech experts would be brought aboard—until today.
The Health and Human Services (HHS) department has brought in telecommunications giant Verizon to address the issues dogging the site, USA Today reported. The newspaper cited an anonymous source in the telecommunications industry.
“Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team and help improve HealthCare.gov,” the HHS posted on its blog post Sunday.
While the initial rollout has been a high-profile embarrassment for the administration—as the health care law is a deeply controversial, if signature, achievement of Obama’s presidency—reports that officials knew of the problems and decided to go ahead with the launch anyway are giving the law’s opponents fresh ammunition.
In a White House press event, President Obama admitted the multitude of problems that have been occurring as thousands of Americans overloaded the site trying to sign up for the government’s health insurance exchange program.
“There’s no sugarcoating it: The Website is too slow; people have been getting stuck during the application process,” he said. “No one is madder about the Website than I am, which means it’s going to get fixed.”
Nearly three in 10 Americans (29 percent) say the online health insurance exchanges are working very or fairly well while 46 percent say they are not, according to a recent survey by Pew Research.
The survey found that despite offering critical evaluations of how well the exchanges are working, many of the sites’ actual visitors report that they did not face significant problems.
Among those who have visited an exchange Website, more say the exchanges overall are not working well by a 56 percent to 37 percent margin. Yet when asked about their own experience on an exchange Website, 56 percent said they personally found the site to be very or fairly easy to use, while 40 percent said it was difficult to use.
Although only 14 percent say they have already visited one of the exchange Websites, an additional 23 percent say they think they will do so in the next few months. Those without health insurance are more likely than those with insurance to have already visited (22 percent versus 12 percent) or plan to do so (42 percent versus 19 percent) in the coming months, the results indicated.