Mitterhoff Address: Healthcare site on the fritz

Now that the government shutdown and the debt ceiling issues have finally been resolved, attention can be focused on Obama’s healthcare law, which went into effect on the first day of the shutdown. A shoddy website has made an impact on public perception of the law.

On Monday, Obama appeared in the Rose Garden with his supporting players in this healthcare fight, including Janice Baker from Delaware, who was the first person to register for insurance through the federal marketplace.

The speech was mainly Obama addressing concerns over the federal marketplace site, healthcare.gov. The site had been having some problems when it launched at midnight on Oct. 1. Since the government shutdown was overshadowing other political stories, the attention paid to the screwed-up site was minimal.

According to an article published in the Oct. 22 issue of The Washington Post, “When the Web site went live Oct. 1, it locked up shortly after midnight as about 2,000 users attempted to complete the first step, according to two people familiar with the project.”

That’s a pretty significant problem for a site meant to handle about 7 million people signing up for healthcare by the end of March.

But, with all that being said, I don’t believe that this technological failure should be cause for denouncement of the healthcare law as a whole. As of late, Republicans have said that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius must testify regarding the recent problems, some even calling called for her resignation.

“This launch has been a national embarrassment, but it’s just a symptom of much bigger problems,” Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate for Virginia Ken Cuccinelli said. “I believe President Obama ought to fire Kathleen Sebelius.”

Honestly, that sounds a little crazy to me. Just because of some technical issues, why should Obama fire the woman in charge?

Of course, these Republicans are ignoring pretty significant statistics about the law. According to three polls run by Washington Post-ABC News and Pew in October, 46 percent of Americans support the new healthcare law, a 4 percent increase since September. This makes the approval of healthcare law on par with the approval of the Democratic Party about 14 percent points greater than the Republican Party’s approval rating. Likewise, 56 percent of people found the exchanges run by federal and state governments easy to use. Why can’t some Republicans use statistics like these when calling for the removal of government officials?

Obama has said that he’s angry about the website issues, and he’s said that it’s going to get fixed. Hopefully by January, when the policies are to go into effect, the website is fixed, and people will see the difference the Affordable Care Act can make.

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