WASHINGTON - A defiant President Obama said Monday he is "mad" about problems with a new health care website, but argued that the Affordable Care Act as a whole is working as planned.
While Healthcare.gov hasn't worked "as it was supposed to have worked," Obama said during a White House speech that once-uninsured Americans have signed up for coverage and are receiving benefits.
"The product -- the health care -- is good," Obama said.
Facing attacks from Republicans and other critics of Obamacare, the president said his health care team is reaching out to tech experts to help fix massive website problems that have hampered the rollout of his landmark piece of legislation.
"Nobody's madder than me ... which means it's going to get fixed," Obama said.
Aside from the website, Obama said the new health care law is providing consumer protections and benefits for millions of Americans, including mammograms and birth control services. He told stories of now-covered Americans who had once been denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions.
"The essence of the law ... is working just fine," Obama said.
Congressional Republicans who opposed the 2010 health care law said the initial problems call the entire program into question.
Citing reports that few people have signed up for health care exchanges, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that "another campaign-style event won't solve the myriad problems facing consumers under Obamacare."
McConnell said that "for months, the American people have been learning about the impact Obamacare will have on individuals and families in the form of higher premiums, disrupted insurance and lost jobs -- more broken promises from the administration."
In his speech, Obama said Republicans are playing "politics" with the new law.
Obama said the website isn't the only way people can sign for health care coverage. He said call centers have expanded, and people can also apply in person at federal offices across the country.
In a blog post, the Department of Health and Human Services said some users of HealthCare.gov "have had trouble creating accounts and logging in to the site, while others have received confusing error messages, or had to wait for slow page loads or forms that failed to respond in a timely fashion."
As a result, HHS said it 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 administration did not provide specific names of experts, not have they reported exactly how many people have signed up for new insurance exchanges.
For his speech in the Rose Garden, the president was joined by consumers, small business owners and pharmacists who, the White House said, "have either benefited from the health care law already or are helping consumers learn about what the law means for them and how they can get covered."
Obama's guests also included "individuals who have already applied for and enrolled in quality, affordable coverage through the marketplaces and those who are planning to after exploring and comparing their new health care options," the White House said.
On a sunny day in the Rose, one of the White House guests nearly feinted during Obama's speech.
Said Obama: "That's what happens when I talk too long."