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The Daily Tar Heel

NC sees issues

Only 1,662 North Carolinians have been able to enroll

The Affordable Care Act’s online marketplace launched six weeks ago today — but the website has drawn scrutiny for a number of glitches, forcing President Barack Obama to answer to the public’s worries.

According to the White House, more than 1.5 million people started an application on the site during the first month, but only 106,185 could successfully enroll.

In North Carolina, just 1,662 people were able to enroll.

Obama expressed his concerns about’s problems in a speech on Thursday.

“It’s gotten a lot better over the last few weeks than it was on the first day, but we’re working 24/7 to get it working for the vast majority of Americans in a smooth, consistent way,” he said.

Obama said people would be allowed to renew their current policies with no penalty for 2014 without upgrading plans to the law’s requirements. The Department of Health and Human Services will then determine whether to continue this exception in the future.

“I think it is not possible for me to guarantee that 100 percent of the people 100 percent of the time going on this website will have a perfectly seamless, smooth experience,” he said. “But the majority of people who use it will be able to see it operate the way it was supposed to.”

Daniel Keylin, spokesman for the N.C. Republican Party, said conservatives still believe the law is a disaster.

He estimated that 475,000 North Carolina residents are being forced off of current insurance plans because of the health care law’s requirements.

“The rollout of Obamacare … is the reason why liberal politicians like (Sen.) Kay Hagan have been offering phony political stunts to try to distance themselves from the train wreck,” he said. “The only way to fix Obamacare is to repeal it.”

Jason Roberts, a UNC political science professor, said in an email that in the short run, the problems with the website are harmful for Obama and Democrats in Congress.

But he said could be working better in several months, when campaigns for next year’s elections are in full swing.

“The law was deliberately planned to roll out in a non-election year so that there would be time for the early problems to get worked out well in advance,” he said. “It is simply too early to predict 2014 at this point.”

Despite issues with the Affordable Care Act, ideological divides within the Republican Party might prevent them from gaining any ground, said Ferrel Guillory, a UNC journalism professor and expert on Southern politics.

“If Republicans nominate candidates who are out of the mainstream, who are farther to the right than the general public, then that may offset or even surmount any difficulties the Democrats have with the Affordable Care Act.”

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