President Barack Obama publicly acknowledged on Monday that the new health care law’s website "hasn’t worked as smoothly as it was supposed to work," but he urged Americans not to be deterred from registering for Obamacare because of the technological problems that have plagued its rollout.
"The Affordable Care Act is not just a website," he said. "It’s much more."
Joined at the White House by Obamacare applicants and beneficiaries, Obama said the plans available through the health care exchanges -- despite the issues with online enrollment -- are helping consumers.
"That product is working. It's really good. And it turns out there's a massive demand for it," he said.
Saying that there's "no sugarcoating" the website's problems, Obama pledged quick improvements to the beleaguered HealthCare.Gov site.
"Nobody’s madder than me that the website’s not working like it should, which means it’s going to get fixed," he said.
Dinging Republicans for "rooting for [Obamacare's] failure," Obama acknowledged that the glitches in the site have exposed the law to further attacks from opponents.
"But we did not wage this long and contentious battle just around a website," he added. "That’s not what this was about."
He also encouraged those who want to apply for the program to do so "the old fashioned way" -- by phone or in person -- as work on the website continues.
Issues with the online health care site have plagued the administration since the web site’s rollout on Oct. 1.
The Department of Health and Human Services said Sunday that it plans to enlist “the best and the brightest from both inside and outside government” to help fix the online issues, but it’s unclear how long the digital repairs will take.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, Oct. 30, according to a committee statement. She was criticized earlier in the day after it was revealed she would not testify in front of the panel this week due to a scheduling conflict.
Over the weekend, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on NBC’s "Meet the Press" that the president is “frustrated” with the rocky rollout and that HHS plans to fix the “unacceptable” problems as soon as possible.
Senior administration officials say about 476,000 health insurance applications have been filed through the Obamacare website so far.
NBC's Peter Alexander contributed to this report.
First published October 21 2013, 8:38 AM