(CNN) - The man who was once tasked with defending the Obama White House and its biggest legislative achievement was not impressed Monday with how Obamacare’s online insurance exchanges have been implemented.
“This is excruciatingly embarrassing for the White House and for the Department of Health and Human Services,” former White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on MSNBC’s “NOW with Alex Wagner.”
“This was bungled badly. This was not a server problem; just too many people came to the website. This is a website architecture problem.”
Gibbs left the White House in 2011, after the Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress but long before the most critical planning could be conducted for the healthcare.gov website where millions of Americans are meant to sign up for health insurance. The White House has not yet released numbers of enrollees but word of glitches, holdups and customer frustration have been extensive.
Gibbs argued that while signing up for health insurance is far from a “one-time easy transaction,” and will by necessity see people returning to the website repeatedly before making a decision on insurance, they won’t keep coming back forever.
Gibbs cited one estimate that when the Massachusetts online exchange that partially inspired Obamacare was put into place, it took as many as 18 visits for customers to actually pick an insurance plan and sign up.
“Boy, if they don’t get these glitches figured out fast, people aren’t going to come back for visits 15 through 18,” he said.
Gibbs spared no sympathy for those who’ve botched the implementation of the exchanges.
“I hope they’re working day and night to get this done and when they get it fixed, I hope they fire some people that were in charge of making sure this thing was supposed to work,” Gibbs said.
“We knew there were going to be some glitches. But these are glitches that go quite frankly way beyond the pale of what should be expected.”
–CNN’s Bryan Koenig contributed to this report.