Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was extremely critical Monday of the rollout for the Affordable Care Act, saying that the glitches and delays that have beset the health exchange website should cost some officials their jobs.
Gibbs suggested during an apperance on MSNBC that the Obama administration is lucky that the public’s attention has been largely consumed with the government shutdown.
“Can you imagine if we weren’t obsessed with the shutdown what would be going on on health care?” Gibbs, now an MSNBC analyst, said. “In fact, Republicans probably would be a lot closer to their goal had they not done that.”
“This is excruciatingly embarrassing for the White House and for the Department of Health and Human Services. This was bungled badly,” he continued. “This was not a server problem, just too many people came to the website. This is a website architecture problem. I think it’s excruciatingly embarrassing. It’s not fatal because there are still many weeks and days to go before the enrollment period closes at the end of March.”
President Obama’s top technology guru said earlier this month that HealthCare.gov drew five times as many visitors as originally anticipated and that the high traffic caused some of the website’s bugs. Obama has also sought to downplay the website’s glitches by invoking Apple’s own bumpy product rollouts, but Gibbs seemed to push back against that talking point.
“This is not iTunes. I hear a great album, I’m going to buy it, boom, I buy it and it’s a one-time easy transaction. This is health care,” Gibbs said. “It’s very involved. People are going to take their time with it.”
“Boy, if they don’t get these glitches figured out fast, people aren’t going to come back for visits 15 through 18,” he added. “And I will say this. I hope they are 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 that this thing was supposed to work. We knew there were going to be glitches. These were glitches that go, quite frankly, way beyond the pale of what’s expected.”