By Bethany Bray
---- — Congressman John Tierney acknowledges that the startup of the Affordable Care Act healthcare program this fall has been “a technological disaster.”
“But that doesn’t make the whole project a disaster,” said Tierney, in a meeting with The Salem News editorial board last week.
“They’re going to fix (healthcare.gov),” he said. “The question is, how soon?”
“The problem is, of course, there’s a bunch of people down there (in Washington, D.C.) that don’t want to fix it; they want it to fail,” he said.
Tierney, a Salem resident and representative to the U.S. House for Massachusetts’ sixth district, was on the North Shore last week, attending community events.
One month into its implementation, the HeathCare.gov website, meant to allow Americans to peruse and purchase healthcare plans, is plagued with glitches.
Bowing to intense criticism, President Barack Obama apologized last week to those who are losing health insurance plans he repeatedly said they could keep and pledged to find fixes that might allow people to keep their coverage.
“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” he said in an interview Thursday with NBC News.
He added: “We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them, and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”
Officials said the president was referring to fixes his administration could make on its own, not legislative options proposed by congressional lawmakers.
The president’s apology comes as the White House tries to combat a cascade of troubles surrounding the rollout of the health care law.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with senators Wednesday to describe fixes that are being made to the website for Americans to sign up for insurance under his signature health care law. The president also traveled to Dallas Wednesday and gave a speech to champion the program, often dubbed “Obamacare.”
Tierney pointed toward Capitol Hill’s divisiveness as the root cause of the many problems this year.
“What makes it (trying to make progress) different is the opposition to anything by some people,” he said. “... It doesn’t matter what Republican you put in there (moderate or not), they have to play the part.”
Tierney, now serving his ninth term in Congress, plans to run for re-election in 2014.
Democrats Marisa DeFranco and Seth Moulton have launched campaigns to run against him; Republican Richard Tisei formed an exploratory committee last week to consider a possible 2014 run, as well.
After a brutal campaign, Tierney beat Tisei by less than 1 percent of the vote last November. It was one of the most closely watched races in the nation.
DeFranco, Moulton and Tierney will face off at the Democratic primary in September 2014, assuming they all collect enough signatures to get on the ballot.
When at The Salem News, Tierney said this campaign will be no different.
“Every election, we have a contest,” he said.
The 6th District contains 39 cities and towns in northeast Massachusetts, stretching from Bedford and North Andover to Gloucester and Amesbury.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this article.