Flanked by 13 people identified as having benefited from Obamacare – one of whom nearly fainted during his remarks – President Barack Obama insisted that his signature health care law is bigger than a problematic website.
"Nobody is madder than me about the fact that the website isn’t working as well as it should, which means it’s going to get fixed," Obama said from the White House Rose Garden Monday.
But the president gave no timeline or date as to when the online health exchanges that opened Oct. 1 will be improved, nor did he say whether anyone would be held accountable for the website failures.
Instead, he insisted the product was popular and that 20 million people have been to the website -- though the Associated Press reported fewer than 500,000 have actually applied for insurance.
"While we’re working out the kinks in the system, I want everybody to understand the nature of the problem," Obama said. "First of all, even with all the problems at HealthCare.gov, the website is still working for a lot of people -- just not as quick or efficient or consistent as we want, and although many of these folks have found that they had to wait longer than they wanted, once they complete the process they’re very happy with the deal that’s available to them."
Obama said he's confident the government will get all the "kinks" worked out of the website.
"The essence of the law -- the health insurance that’s available to people -- is working just fine," Obama said. "In some cases, actually, it’s exceeding expectations -- the prices are lower than we expected, the choice is greater than we expected."
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who has declined to answer questions from Congress about the faulty rollout and is fending off calls for her resignation, was seated in the front row at the Rose Garden event.
The woman who nearly fainted was Karmel Allison of Southern California, according to the White House pool report. The White House said Allison was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 9 years old.