Local health website problems slowly improving

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ASHEBORO, N.C. -- In a speech today, President Obama addressed ongoing technical concerns with the affordable health care website, healthcare.gov.

Obama called the website glitches inexcusable, adding, "There's no sugarcoating it. The website has been too slow, people have been getting stuck during the application process, and I think it's fair to say nobody is more frustrated by that than I am."

He also shared several success stories and said in the end, providing affordable health care to all Americans will be worth working through technical problems.

"We've had some of the best IT talent in the country join the team, and we're well into a tech surge to fix the problem," he explained.

Local Navigators and Certified Assistance Counselors say they are slowly but surely seeing progress with the website.

Teresa Shackleford is the CEO if Randolph Family Health Care Center at MERCE. They received federal funds to start a support program to help enroll people interested in the health insurance marketplace.

"It went live October 1st but... not really," she laughed. "We couldn't even get logged in."

She continued, "It does seem like a scary process, but we have certified application counselors on site."

One of her CAC's is Melissa Thomson, who was federally trained and certified to help people navigate healthcare.gov.

"We can't tell people which plan to pick, but we can help them with the process," she explained. "We've been very busy kind of off and on, up and down. People are just really frustrated right now because the system is down. We've not been able to successfully enroll anybody as of yet."

She has been able to help people log in, create accounts and submit income information.

"But things kind of stop whenever you get the point of picking out an insurance plan," she pointed out. "I was able to help a patient earlier today qualify for an exemption which is more than we've been able to do thus far."

She said the site has improved since it was first launched.

Shackleford said, "Most the people were just seemed very scared and had lots of questions and were thrilled to know – there is local help."

Legal Aid offices throughout the state are also helping with enrollment. President Obama reminded Americans they can also sign up by mailing in their applications or calling the support line.

Thomson reminds, "Open enrollment is through the end of March."

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