Former Obama spokesman: Fire those who botched Obamacare website
October 14th, 2013
08:55 PM ET
10 months 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. ThinkAgain

    I agree! I don't know why they didn't use the folks who helped with the Obama campaign website; they were much more efficient and successful.

    October 14, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  2. HenryMiller

    No, fire those who voted for Obamacare, which I expect will happen in the 2014 election.

    October 14, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  3. Tom

    Gibbs is obviously a racist and wants Obama to fail! How dare faux lite write an article disparaging the websites. I've been told by everyone that this is to be expected an that 91 million spent to build a website is reasonable. I know it took Facebook 6 years to spend 500 million....that's a total of 500 million for the entire company but this govt spending is totally reasonable ad if it costs more than the rich should pay. Yet have enough money to pay for it

    October 14, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  4. Tom

    The Koch brothers must have gotten to Gibbs! They must have paid him off to say that

    October 14, 2013 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  5. Dr. Strangehair

    The budget was trimmed for the startup of Obamacare and enemies of Obama could hack the sites without being caught. The program will recover. It is possible that this problem will be mentioned long after it mattered [ Just like the speech in the UN about our ambassador death in Libya]

    October 14, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  6. Kd

    To all the americans of the united states. The repiblicans may be right on this one , obama care may not work. Oh and yes fire the crazy people that put the system together. Obama care may just crash and that would be a wonderful thing.

    October 14, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  7. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanity"

    However. In turn you should really fire anybody that implemented the sale of any exchange that "hid" and/misrepresented the premiums to the public without thier knowledge. Then you can fire all the individuals that did not read the bill, but passed it anyways. Selling the public down the river should stand like treason.

    October 14, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  8. Joe

    I don't agree with firing anyone. However, t I do think that proper load testing probably should have been done on a website of this importance.

    October 14, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  9. Bentwrench

    Communists always have a way of embarrassing themselves, fire those who started obamacare, it is not about helping people, it is about enslaving a nation. We do not need another soviet union or Cuba. People that do not like a free society should leave this nation to those that do.

    October 14, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  10. Rita Clifton

    Was Affordable Act Website hacked by GOP foes? Check Carl Rove`s website??!! Makes you wonder why website crashed??!! Come on web freakies find out what happened here!!?

    October 15, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  11. Hairy reed

    Will obama and his family sign up for obama care?

    October 15, 2013 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  12. Thomas

    At least don't pay them !

    October 15, 2013 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  13. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Should be fired and not payed !!!!

    October 15, 2013 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  14. king

    i feel that these guys that are setting up obamacare website are teaparty folks.

    October 15, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  15. Richard Long

    The Obamacare train-wreck that Sen. Reid and Sen. Baucus (one of the law's architects) is upon us. It has been over two weeks and they are still having problems.
    Now think of how these people are going to manage Obamacare from here on out.

    "You can keep your doctor" = FAIL
    "You can keep your policy" = FAIL
    "Rates will be affordable" = FAIL

    Obamanation: Failure = rousing success!

    October 15, 2013 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  16. Gurgyl

    Fire all that caused infestated.

    October 15, 2013 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  17. jpmichigan

    My understand by what is reported by the media, the company who is providing this blotched up service, was the only bid submitted. They are making BILLIONS. Makes one wonder who else in the administration is connected to this company? Congress needs to ask, on behalf of the American people. One needs more time to choose the right insurance company and plan in ACA, 3 months before the January 1, 2014, be enrolled or pay the mandatory fine isn't right.

    October 15, 2013 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  18. MC

    Thats what you get when you outsource to private industry – crap products.

    October 15, 2013 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  19. Chris

    It's a government IT project. Of course it was bungled badly.

    October 15, 2013 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  20. Joe

    Guess we should have just used Craigs List.

    This bodes poorly for the whole enterprise. The same idiots that decided only 50k hits a day were likely are ALSO the same idiots that believe a few billion will be enough to cover the subsidies.

    Why does anyone believe that MORE government is the answer to america's problems? Doe ANYONE actually believe that the government is too small and does its job well?

    October 15, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  21. John

    Wow, the federal government screwed something up. Shocking.

    October 15, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  22. Ken

    The federal government can't run social security without billions of dollars in fraud and they are going to manage another massive program. Hold on to your wallets tax payers for Obamacare is about to enter your lives!

    October 15, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    This is a website architecture problem.”
    -------------------------------------------------
    Who got the contract?
    Somebody's gotta go.

    October 15, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  24. jharry

    I agree. Start firing at the top. BO should be the first to go, followed by Reid, then Pelosi, then Durbin, then anyone with a D after their name.

    October 15, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  25. Bob Head

    Implementation of anything this massive requires the brightest minds. JayZ and Beyonce need not apply. LOL

    October 15, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
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