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Obama Says Extent of Health Care Website Flaws Unexpected

U.S. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama, in referring to the Affordable Care Act, said his "main priority right now is making sure it delivers for the American people." Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images

President Barack Obama said neither he nor members of his administration anticipated the magnitude of the flaws that hobbled the startup of the federal website for people to choose health-care plans under his new law.

“I don’t think anybody anticipated the degree of problems that you had on,” Obama said in an interview with Fox News yesterday. Now, “it’s working the way it’s supposed to.”

Obama didn’t answer a question about whether he should fire Secretary of Health and Human Service Kathleen Sebelius because of the mishandled start.

“I promise you that we hold everybody up and down the line accountable,” he said. “My main priority right now is making sure it delivers for the American people.”

The Affordable Care Act, which mainly took full effect Jan. 1, marks the largest U.S. expansion of health insurance in more than 40 years. About 3 million have signed up for coverage through government-run insurance exchanges. The law also expanded eligibility in some state-run Medicaid programs for the poor.

Obama also defended his administration’s initial public response following the deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

He said that some of the information put out at first wasn’t accurate because of confusion “in the heat of the moment.” The full story has since been told by administration officials and through hearings in Congress, he said.

“We revealed to the American people exactly what we understood at the time,” he said. “In the aftermath, what became clear was that the security was lax, that not all the precautions that needed to be take were taken.”

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