Topics: Obamacare

The 32 questions White House reporters asked Jay Carney about the Obamacare website

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Beltway Confidential,White House,Charlie Spiering,Obamacare,Health and Human Services,Health Care,Jay Carney,Healthcare.gov,Technology

White House reporters pestered press secretary Jay Carney Tuesday about the Obamacare website, as he repeatedly referred them to the Department of Health and Human Services for answers and eventually fled the podium.

Here are 32 of the questions from Tuesday's White House press briefing:

1. Today, the House Oversight Committee asked what role the White House chief information officer and chief technology officer had in the rollout of Healthcare.gov. Can you explain to us how they were involved and when they became aware that there were all these problems?

2. On the issue of the website, many of the states seem to be doing better with the website. One of the key things, at least in Kentucky, we're being told, is that they do not require someone to enroll first before shopping. That's a structural difference [from] what happens in the federal website. Is the White House considering — or is the department considering changing that structurally in order to help improve the performance?

3. I understand that yesterday and today — you're not about pointing fingers and not about doing that at this point — but that is a structural change, is it not? What you've just described, reflecting what other states are doing by not forcing you to log in first? Are there other structural changes, not just — so that it wasn't just the amount of people who were logging in — although that may be a factor — there were structural problems. Are there other structural problems that are now being addressed by the government?

4. Is it a fact that the requirement you just mentioned as having been changed a day or two ago was, in fact, in the original plan, and at the last minute or as close to the last minute before the website debuted, the White House insisted that people who are going on the web have to file their application first before seeing a menu of plans?

5. Even though you don't do IT, maybe you can tell me whether — the contractors on the outside are telling us and others that there was a lot of pressure from the White House, despite many known problems, to start on Oct. 1 and not to miss the date.

6. You mentioned — just one more — you mentioned that you welcome legitimate congressional oversight. What other kind is there?

7. We have a report out now that Jeff Zients is being tapped by the president -- has been tapped by the president to help repair the health care website. I'm wonder[ing] if you can talk a little bit about the president's decision to do that. Is this now to put a central person or face behind this effort so that people know who is in charge? And does this in any way sideline Secretary Sebelius? And why did the president decide to tap Jeff Zients?

8. Jay, following on what Bill was asking about with some of the problems before the launch, in this Washington Post report, if you could react, they're saying that the administration before the launch, days before, tested a key part of the website with a few hundred people — a simulation of a few hundred people logging on and the system crashed, even though, as you have been touting, you were expecting millions of people — you didn't know how many, but many, many people trying to log on. So was anyone in the White House informed at that time, days before the launch, that this key test had failed?

9. But it seems like a big deal that days before the launch, this test is done with hundreds of people and the system crashes. My question was, was anyone at the White House informed of it? Was the president informed of that?

10. The president yesterday and you today talked about a tech surge and these IT experts who are coming in. Is the White House going to provide a list of who these people are or what corporations they work for?

11. But if these individuals work for companies that have business before the White House, business before the Congress, do you think, in the interest of transparency, it would be a good idea to list the people and their companies?

12. OK. Last one on that, then. What is your estimate on how much more money it's going to cost then to fix the website and implement the early stages? It's already hundreds of millions of dollars that have been laid out, have been disclosed. What's your new estimate?

13. You said at the end of six months, you expect millions of Americans will sign up. Do you still expect the 7 million that you had predicted?

14. OK. And then the second question, in the past when you had a natural disaster, the oil spill, generally, there’s somebody in charge, and, I guess, Jeff Zients is going to be that person. Is he going to be taking over a kind of briefing role where he answers the questions?

15. But what I’m saying is — one of the frustrations has been, it’s hard to get information about exactly what went wrong and what’s being done to fix it, and there hasn’t been a kind of daily update on that from somebody who is well-versed in the technical aspects of this. But you don't anticipate him doing that?

16. OK. And one last question. Without describing exactly what did go wrong, do you feel that at this point the White House has a good handle on what went wrong and understands the problem?

17. But you're not able to say at this point that you — that the White House has a handle on what the problem is?

18. Following up very briefly on that — so, in simple terms, we have not yet fully identified what all of the problems are? We're still in the process of identifying the problems before we can initiate —

19. The president has been sort of the communicator-in-chief in terms of our understanding of the way ACA, the Affordable Care Act, works and the problems that exist. And he spoke on Oct. 1, spoke again yesterday. Should we anticipate we will hear constant updates from him as we reach that place when he can finally say, 'we have fixed it, it's all good to go from here'? What should we anticipate to hear from the president?

20. Simply put, doesn’t — when it comes to a sophisticated rollout like this with a website, phones, call-in centers, all this, doesn’t the private sector do this better than government does?

21. Jay, you said there are improvements on the website. What are the improvements?

22. But when can you register?

23. My question is about young people. Are they really going to want to jump through all of those hoops? And don’t you, kind of, want to encourage them to?

24. But doesn’t it create a problem where if you’re sort of back-loading all of the young people? I mean, you want to encourage them to sign —

25. Have you logged [on] to the website since the changes have been made?

26. Has the president?

27. Did you register? I mean, did you succeed in —

28. What was it like when you went to the website?

29. How far did you get? — I’m just curious because I failed to register five times.

30. And does the president have any travel plans in the near term to go out with the theme — on the theme of the Affordable Care Act? Or [have] the problems with the website caused him to delay those travel plans?

31. The other is, obviously several times today, and in the past, quite a few times, you're referring us to HHS for information. Is it your expectation that they will answer those questions for us?

32. I understand that, too. Take Ed’s question, which seems like basic, right-to-know information — how much is this costing taxpayers money? As a longtime Washington reporter before you took this job, obviously that would likely be something that you felt was a right to know. Will we get that information from HHS?

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