Live-blogging Obama on health care law problems

Associated Press
President Obama is speaking in the Rose Garden about the problems with the website that allows people to shop for health care under the new health care law.

11:00 a.m. – The president concludes without questions from reporters, who appear to be nowhere near.

10:59 a.m. – A woman behind the president begins to faint and is caught. “This happens when I talk too long,” the president says. The woman is helped away.

10:57 a.m. – Cites another letter — this one from a self-employed man in Pennsylvania. “Yes, the website really stinks for the first week,” the letter said. “But instead of paying $1600 a month for a group insurance plan, we have a plan that will only cost us $632 a month.”

“He was frustrated,” Obama said. “But he was less frustrated when he realized he was saving $900 a month on his health insurance. The law works; that’s why we fought so long to pass this law, to save people like John money.”

10:56 a.m. – “We didn’t wage this long battle just about a website,” President Obama says. To more cheers.

10:53 a.m. – The president notes that people can get help from “navigators” to maneuver their way through the process. He gives the national website address. For Minnesotans, it takes a click to get to a page that says you have to go to the MnSure site, where you have to scroll down until you find a link for the “assister directory,” which goes to a page which says they’re still training assisters. It would be easier if they’d just link to it here. It’s also just a fairly lame pdf document instead of one you could search by zip code.

10:48 a.m. – “While the website will be the easiest way to buy insurance through the marketplace,” he says, “it isn’t the only way.” He says people can still buy it via the phone. Interesting to note this button appeared on the website yesterday.

10:47 a.m. – No one who buys insurance has to pay a premium until January 15. “The insurance plans don’t run out,” Obama says. “The prices that insure success will not change. Everyone who wants insurance through the marketplace will get insurance. Period.”

10:46 a.m. – “The problems are getting fixed… but I want everyone to understand the nature of the problem.” Says people are are able to use the website are “very happy with the deal they’re offered.”

10:45 a.m. – Reads letter from woman in Washington State with a family who says she now has health insurance for $169 a month. “The essence of the law is working just fine,” Obama says. “In some cases it’s exceeding expectations. But the problem has been that the website to make it easy is not working the way it should for everybody. There’s no sugarcoating it.”

10:41 a.m. – “The product of the ACA is quality health care that’s affordable. And that product is really good. And it turns out there’s a demand for it.” He says the website has been visited 20 million times. But he doesn’t say how many people have actually enrolled. The administration has been quite obstinate in providing that information. But he adds that a half million have submitted applications. That’s almost twice what CNN said on Friday.

10:39 a.m. – “We’ve created competition where there’s not been competition before, so insurers are creating more health care plans to get your business,” he says. Except in Rochester, apparently.

10:38 a.m. – The president is clearly playing down the importance of the website.

10:35 a.m. -“The Affordable Care Act is not just a website,” he says. “The ACA provides benefits and protections” to people who already have health insurance. Young people can stay on parents’ plans until they’re 26. (Applause). It provides seniors with discounts on medicine. “Already, because of ACA, preventive care like mammograms and birth control are free,” he says. More applause. Looks like the media has been pushed out of the president’s vicinity.

10:34 a.m. – President Obama speaking. He ID’s the people standing behind him as people who have either benefited by the law or are helping other people. “The number of people visiting the site has been overwhelming,” the president says. But he says thousands of people are signing up.

10:33 a.m. – Janice Baker is first to speak. She describes herself as the first person to get enrolled in the state of Delaware using the website. She is too young for Medicare but too old not to have some health issues. She says she’s saving $150 a month. People cheer, suggesting the strategy here is more pep rally than contrition.

10:32 am – The president has yet to appear but about a dozen people are lined up behind where he’ll stand. Presumably they’re able to get into the site.