October 20th, 2013
10:26 AM ET
9 years ago

McCain: Obamacare website rollout a 'fiasco'

(CNN) – Longtime Republican Sen. John McCain on Sunday described the enrollment process for Obamacare thus far as a "fiasco" and vowed to continue fighting the health care law. But he said Republicans should take a "rifle shot" approach rather than the "meat ax" strategy of defunding the law altogether, as endorsed by conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz.

On CNN's "State of the Union," McCain was not quite ready to call on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to step down, unlike others in his party, but he supports the idea of holding congressional hearings over the issue and encouraged more efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

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"Let's find out who is responsible for this fiasco and then take the appropriate action," he told CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger when asked about Sebelius.

"But this is just the beginning of the problems," he continued. "That's why we Republicans have to keep up the fight. But we have to rifle shot it rather than go at it with a meat ax, which cannot succeed."

Nearly half a million people have filled out applications for Obamacare coverage since October 1, despite the highly publicized problems with online sign-ups, administration officials said Saturday.

"The website is unacceptable, and we are improving it," one senior administration official said. "But the underlying insurance product is good, and across the country, people are getting access to affordable care on January 1."

The Affordable Care Act is intended to serve more than 48 million Americans without health insurance. Most Americans face tax penalties if they do not have health insurance by the beginning of next year.

McCain had his own recommendation on how to fix the rocky rollout.

"Send Air Force One out to Silicon Valley, load it up with smart people, bring them back to Washington and fix this problem," he said. "It's ridiculous. And everybody knows that."

The 2008 GOP presidential nominee said he believes that the Obamacare glitches would be a bigger story if conservative Republicans hadn't staged a strategy that in part led to this month's government shutdown.

"Many ironies here, but one of them is the fiasco of this rollout has been obscured because of this … strife that's been going on in the Republican Party," he said.

Spearheaded by Cruz, House Republicans repeatedly attached anti-Obamacare provisions to must-pass spending bills, which the Democratic-controlled Senate refused to take up. The stalemate ultimately resulted in a 16-day partial government shutdown that removed $24 billion from the economy, according to an initial analysis from Standard & Poor's.

McCain has been one of many Senate Republicans to criticize the effort.

"It was a fool's errand to start with. It was never going to succeed," he said. McCain didn't single out Cruz but blamed "the whole effort" instead.

"Keep up the fight against Obamacare. But don't shut down the government and have so much collateral damage," he added.

Although Cruz hasn't ruled out trying to take the same approach when Congress faces another fiscal deadline in January, McCain said he's confident Congress will not let it happen again. "The American people will not stand for another one of these things. They just won't."

Cruz to CNN: ‘I don’t work for the party bosses in Washington’

This week, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a hearing on problems with the Obamacare enrollment process. Sebelius was invited to testify. A Health and Human Services official said last week that she won't be available for the Thursday hearing, but she's in "close communication" with the committee about its request for her testimony.

Some lawmakers have called on Sebelius to be fired or resign, but Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, like McCain, didn't immediately call for her to step down over the problems. However, Rubio, along with Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, criticized her for not going to the hearing.

"Her refusal to testify and be transparent about it, I think, is undermining her credibility, and there may come a point where, in fact, she will have to resign, largely because she no longer has the credibility to do the job," Rubio said on "Fox News Sunday."

On the same program, Blunt argued that there will come a point when "she'll have to testify."

"I don't think she can refuse to answer questions about this," he said.

- CNN's Kevin Bohn and Greg Clary contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: Health care • John McCain • Ted Cruz • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (657 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    I got through on the phone and then was helped through the computer process. Voila! Nothing to it.
    The website problem can and will be solved.
    The teatards and hatred can't, unfortunately, be solved. Well, we can throw the teatards out on their behind by voting and help campaign against them.

    October 20, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. BoDid

    When everyone finds out how much more they be spending and realize they have to pay for health routines for the opposite gender, they'll start calling for the repeal!

    October 20, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. Ltran

    Wrong from the start with the Government mentality: "You register first and then see what you can get". Business mentality: Come in and see what we got, then we can talk.

    But this is not unemployment benefit web site!

    October 20, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  4. Dove

    The glitches are on purpose to mask the marketplace prices....
    Obamacare = the UNaffordable healthcare act.

    October 20, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. Carmine

    McCain and the Republicanssss are a Fiasco... hoping that the Americanssss will remember it next year....

    October 20, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. OrmondGeorge

    'McCain: Obamacare website rollout a 'fiasco'"
    Heck, it's almost as bad as my selection of Sarah Palin.

    October 20, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  7. EMILY

    I don't wanna see this face on television anymore!

    October 20, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  8. Namewhodat

    Get over the web site. What about my coverage. Next year premiums up 150 percent with less coverage. Retired at 57 because job is in mexico now. Great economy

    October 20, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. Frank

    Does McCain even know what websites are? .....or the internet?

    October 20, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  10. rplat

    The Obamacare site is just a reflection of this entire incompetent administration. The mechanics are bad, the policy is bad and the results will be worse.

    October 20, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. bergus

    so OUTSOURCING the website to canada was a bad idea?

    October 20, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. It's me.

    Send them to health care first. Clear up all of the physician websites (they're terrible. no wonder overhead sucks on trying to find them), then think about signing up the whole country. Better yet...go straight to single payer. Bring back Murray Wagner Dingell bill and let's get this show on the road.

    October 20, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. smellferd

    This is what socialisim looks like. You asked for it and now you got it. This is the face of the change you were hoping for. It only gets worse from here.

    October 20, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. Bob Head

    When smart people can't sign up on this failure website, how can the folks who are too dumb to get a picture ID supposed to? LOL This whole deal is a tip of the iceberg. Too many years of condoning stupidity, criminal activity, and pandering for votes has ruined the backbone of our country. Instead of using the 'brains' to implement this program, the contracts went to the political cronies. Now Americans get to enjoy the results, while the perpetrators line their pockets with money. Just had to get that off my chest. 🙂

    October 20, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  15. Sidb1980

    McCain – go away.

    October 20, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  16. MiBigAl

    Did anyone actually think that there wouldn't be glitches. Of course, we all know that if this site was set up by the GOP everything would have worked out perfectly. Wah! Wah! Wah!

    October 20, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  17. Clem

    Ever heard of a PHONE?......I'm going to sign up soon as no insurance company would insure me or my daughters. I only had a benign tumor, never went to the doctor; my children only have occasional colds, so thank you President Obama for helping me get health insurance that the repukes don't want me to have. They never did or say ONE thing during 8 years of bush in office.....NOTHING, so don't tell me they CARE, because they DON'T.

    October 20, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  18. Bill

    Obviously McCain includes himself, congress and the senate to NOT be smart people. See, we can come to a long lasting agreement.

    October 20, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  19. Steve

    Typical republican, lets send air force one to the silicon valley, so we can complain that it cost 4 million to bring these people to Washington (guess they can't do it online) then hold a congressional hearing to find out who's fault it is, Millions more. Complain about costs but shut down cost us 24B. So I guess his fix is to bring in Cheney to rifle shot it...rather than using the usual meat axe...LOL

    October 20, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. JohnCitizens

    McShame is as bad as the left. No Senator, we do not fly in anyone to solve the problem. I have always found problems are best solved at the lowest level, ie where the problem is occurring.

    You do not fly in anyone. You do not have the govt solve anything.

    You provide a level playing field with the folks by providing interstate competition of insurance companies and keeping personal injury attorneys on a very short leash.


    October 20, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. Bill Gates

    More GOP deception – act like a poorly designed web site implies that anything Obama does a disaster. I say act because the web site appears to me a pretty good one. I'm a website designer senior software engineer working for a government contractor. People like me like our work and we want it to work properly, as well as pass stringent quality control, testing, and international configuration management standards. For a recent rollout, it appears to have some reasonable overload problems. A congressional investigation is more of the waste fraud and abuse of the GOP, which is the party supposed to be saving us from it. The only real issue for them is attacking Obama in order to discredit him and they do it by manufacturing phony crises like the debt, ACA, bailouts, and trying to dupe everyone to believe they will cause the end of the world.

    October 20, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. Mark D.

    Since the GOP feels that Obamacare is evil and will kill Americans you would think that they would be happy its hard to register...

    Instead they are outraged at how difficult it is to sign up up for Obamacare... Does anyone else see the blatant hypocrisy and false rage here ???

    October 20, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |

    The Republicand said the same thing about Social Security and Medicare when it was first started

    October 20, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  24. Rick C.

    It's a basically a software issue...nothing more. The website creater (a private contractor) botched the coding. But like any new software issue with bugs in it, it always gets fixed. The actual ACA program is working just fine, and these guys want to create the illusion it's not.

    October 20, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  25. Pedro Lopez

    Fly in smart people from Silicon Valley, who will then off shore it to an army of low bid contractors over seas. Problem compounded!

    October 20, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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