By Mike Lillis - 10/23/13 05:18 PM EDT
"Just fix it."
That's the boiled-down message coming from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday, as Democrats are scrambling to put out the wildfire of criticism and attention aimed at the botched rollout of ObamaCare's federal insurance website.
In a press briefing where reporters asked about no other topic, Pelosi acknowledged that the problems dogging users trying to enroll in insurance plans on the HealthCare.gov website are "beyond glitches." But the trouble, she quickly added, "does not take away from the fact that we're on a path" toward installing the many benefits under the law.
"The situation right now is unacceptable; it's unfortunate," she said at a news conference in the Capitol. "But we did not work very hard and … dedicate our public service to a website. It was to an initiative for affordable, quality healthcare for all Americans.
"Just fix it, so we can go forward," she added. "Fix the technology, and let's not get too bogged down in what happens if they're not able to fix it."
Launched on Oct. 1, the federal insurance website offers side-by-side comparisons of private insurance plans designed to help millions of uninsured Americans buy healthcare coverage. Beginning early next year, those who are not covered will face a financial penalty.
But the site has been hobbled by a series of technical problems, preventing many thousands of people from signing up and fueling Republican charges that the law should be delayed or repealed altogether.
"Clearly there [are] problems with the website, but I would argue that the problems go much further than that," Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday after a closed-door meeting with his Republican conference in the Capitol.
On Tuesday, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) wrote to President Obama urging an extension of the enrollment window, which closes on March 31.
Pelosi on Wednesday rejected that strategy, arguing that the technological problems are surmountable, and the administration should stick to its calendar.
"I have faith in technology and, while there are glitches, there are solutions as well. So I'm optimistic that we'll be able to go forward on schedule," she said.
"That was our mission. We accomplished it. And we're proud of it," Pelosi added. "Is the implementation of it perfect it every way? Not yet. But the goal of it is still the same — we're still very, very proud of that.
"And not for a half a second — not a nano-second — would I say that I'm disappointed."