Former Obama spokesman: Fire those who botched Obamacare website
October 14th, 2013
08:55 PM ET
1 year ago

Former Obama spokesman: Fire those who botched Obamacare website

(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.


Filed under: Health care • Robert Gibbs • White House
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. sam mazarella

    This is the LAST guy I would expect to hear honest words from. Maybe there is hope after all ....

    October 15, 2013 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  2. What's in that tea anyway?

    Agreed Robert. I'm sure people are already refreshing resumes, but you President Obama's style is not embarass anyone but I'm sure he's already said " ...Thank you for your service, best start clearing out your desk. And in closing I just want to say "Go Tea Pary" "Go far far away so that this country never has to hear from the likes of you and yours again" I hear Somalia is nice this time of year. And they have opens at the gubmit level too....so get over there as soon as possible, you will be welcomed with open arms.

    October 15, 2013 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  3. jim

    Just a glitch or two or three or a thousand. How soon till this get's hacked? I'd say mid December. That's when they'll have millions of people sign-up. You know hackers want info and right now there is just not enough info in the system to have a major impact.

    October 15, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  4. Minellimu

    Scripts to test the performance of a system are a dime a dozen....

    October 15, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  5. maxp0wer

    These people can't even run a website, and they are supposed to run our healthcare?! I'm worried.

    October 15, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  6. Minellimu

    Scripts to test the performance of a system are a dime a dozen

    yours truly,

    One Performance Tester...

    October 15, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  7. Richard Drew

    These glitches are strange in that the architecture for building a site like this is fairly straight forward. I would suspect that developers got instructions that were designed to make things not work so well. You can't tell me there were not Republicans working on the project that were against it.

    October 15, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    I would agree mith Mr. Gibbs. Proper testing would have caught the bottleneck problems associated with logging on.

    October 15, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  9. tv22

    Poor Gibbs, now they're going to go after his tax returns, tap his phone and monitor his internet activity.

    October 15, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
1 2