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Merrimack Valley

October 6, 2013

Around the World and Nation

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defending the shaky rollout of his health care law, President Barack Obama yesterday said frustrated Americans “definitely shouldn’t give up” on the problem-plagued program now at the heart of his dispute with Republicans over reopening the federal government.

Obama said public interest far exceeded the government’s expectations, causing technology glitches that thwarted millions of Americans when trying to use government-run health care websites.

“Folks are working around the clock and have been systematically reducing the wait times,” he said.

The federal gateway website was taken down for repairs over the weekend, again hindering people from signing up for insurance.

Obama, in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, also disclosed that U.S. intelligence agencies believe Iran continues to be a year or more away from having the capability to make a nuclear weapon. That assessment is at odds with Israel, which contends Tehran is on a faster course toward a bomb.

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, the president spoke about the shaky start of enrollment under the health care overhaul, the government shutdown, the threat of a U.S. default, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other topics. Here are some highlights:

Health care overhaul

Obama blamed reports of long waits to get on health care websites and difficulty signing up for coverage on a level of public interest that he said exceeded expectations and overwhelmed the system. He said people are working around the clock to make things run smoother.

The president said people shouldn’t give up on signing up since coverage doesn’t kick in until January and the enrollment period ends in March. He said he did not have data on how many people had successfully signed up to buy insurance from private companies, mostly through websites that went live this past Tuesday.

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