Jay Carney Answers Questions About Health Care Website Issues

White house press secretary talks about the administration's plan to fix technical issues.
3:00 | 10/21/13

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Transcript for Jay Carney Answers Questions About Health Care Website Issues
This is a special. -- from the ABC. Hello I'm Dan Cutler and new -- this ABC news digital special report the obamacare rollout riddled with witches and technical bugs. President Obama today admitting that the exchange not apartments and he expects problems fixed shortly the president. Did not take any questions. Of course as Press Secretary Jay Carney will be answering letting your reporters' questions and likely they will include those about that botched rollout. But first on a -- BC's political director Rick Klein in Washington DC Astro waiting for -- parties news conference so. Rick this -- -- the speakers opposed to be about the glitches highway administration's gonna fix these president even in knowledge in the -- Where there. But. Sort of -- downplayed effort. I downplayed on the -- front this is basically the same thing we've heard over and over again for the White House which is never mind any problems right now what matters is the long term. Ultimately totally unsatisfying for people looking for answers right now we don't know. Who these this new tech support team it brought in who would these all stars are that are working on -- we don't how much that's costing -- on the timeframe for. We still don't even know how many -- actually succeeded in signing up. Ford health care under the new Obama health care law under these exchanges so that the White House has been cherry picking facts I think we're gonna see a lot of -- for Jay Carney in a few moments. Around those facts and when the White House is gonna reveal those details this could be a very expensive deal we are already -- talking about 400 million dollar website we know that can deliver on its promise. Bringing in the best and the brightest -- with the White House and HHS has said is happening. That's not -- The president -- saying. Himself nobody is -- -- me that the website isn't good it. Yeah that's -- of those things that if first it sounds ridiculous of course is a lot of people mad but then when you realize the stakes here he might be right no one is better than him because this is an utter embarrassment this roll out over the last three weeks. Has been abysmal by almost any stretch people even reporting today as the president is listening the -- 800 number people calling during that time we met with busy signals. I called myself -- I was able to get straight through and instructing -- system just -- tested but clearly this system was not anywhere near up to capacity keep in mind also the White House has said for years for weeks now that that the problems. -- because too many people wanted to sign up. The president shift of that story a little -- today today he said. That the interest the high demands on the servers exacerbated underlying problems what those underlying problems actually are we still don't really know we don't know that he -- about it. We know that this is that the contract work but -- by a number of different entities patch work together. But I'll tell you the White House is very proud of this effort on the front and they said this would work they said this would be the portal that would introduce hundreds of thousands and millions Americans it to health -- -- hasn't done. And we always say they look at some needs us now -- A little earlier. About the Affordable Care Act before I take your questions that a couple of things I wanted to mention first on Friday October 25. President Obama will travel to New York to visit pathways and technology early college high school otherwise known as. Where he will discuss the importance of ensuring that the next generation of middle class American workers. And entrepreneurs has the skills they need to compete and win in the global economy. In his State of the Union Address earlier this year the president said. Quote now at schools like. Collaboration between new York public schools and city university of new York and IBM. Students will graduate with a high school diploma and an associates degree in computers or engineer. We need to give every American student opportunities like this. Further details about the president's visit to. Later that evening the president will deliver remarks remarks rather -- he took triple C events. And attend a DNC event. Before returning to the White House that evening. Also -- -- and make your indulgence. Try to getting out here about 135. An appointment but that gives us plenty of time never. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- I can only tell you that the president is. Regularly briefed on matters like this I don't know that he specifically been briefed on this yet although I suspect he has we will find out for you after the briefing. We are here aware of this shooting. And -- and the -- limited information available about it at this time. For more details we -- you at this point to local law enforcement. And a speech. Ten minutes frustrated what -- -- favorite. He's out what went wrong act. Like I'd say a couple of things -- we are focused on. Providing. Access to affordable health insurance to millions of Americans. Millions of Americans who. Prior to now have not had that acts as the president made clear in his remarks. The Affordable Care Act is a much more than a web -- the web -- is a piece of -- a process that will provide access to these marketplaces and and this is the the important part of the Affordable Care Act that has. Launched -- this month and that is. The marketplaces which. On average in states across the country provides fifty different options have insurance plans for consumers for consumers who have not had access to affordable insurance or. Often have not had. The kind of variety. That drives down prices and provides. Insurance -- the price points that they can afford so. The fact of the matter is the president is frustrated and he made -- clear today by the problems that we've seen with the web site. But already because of the efforts under -- at HHS and C -- And -- text search that they've launch. You're seeing changes to the site -- Make it. More clear to consumers. About the variety of ways that they can get information about the health plans out there. Shop around if you will. They can now for the first time if you look at the site today it's different from the way from what it looked like -- yesterday -- can easily comparison shop just by entering your zip code. There's also now on the home -- -- direct link. To a tax calculator that we'll help you estimate the tax credits you may be eligible for -- part of purchasing insurance through the marketplaces. And also on the website it there's prominently features a pathway to allow you to enroll through call centers as the president said and others have said. We have -- beefed up the staffing of call centers HHS has to ensure that. The obvious. -- -- numbers of Americans who are. Interested in finding out about their insurance options have ways to do that and ways to enroll because there -- four ways. It's not just. On lives. By phone in person. Or by mail in addition to online to register. And to enroll in these insurance options. On Wednesday whether he. Think this -- No in fact I think -- it's absolutely accurate to say that. The volume far exceeded our expectations. And that the volume has driven. The problems that we've seen an exposed some of the problems that we now know now so. No one would argue with the assertion that there was an underestimation of the kind of -- -- that we were going to see an. Obviously that demonstrates. The very important and real fact that millions of Americans. Are very interested in. Affordable health insurance that had not existed before but it's also the case did the models that were in place that tested. The the website did not count for this kind of volume and that the volume that we saw instantly on the first day and ever since has. You know both led to these problems and also explosive expose some of the glitches -- -- That the president talked about today which is why we're taking actions that were taking to improve the consumer experience. But. If I could just remember. Even with these glitches. People are. Signing up -- registering. People are -- And people are being able -- explore the options that are available to them and as -- you've seen all over the country there's huge demand. And that is why the president is so focused on. Fixing the problems that are have arisen and fixing the ones that are rise and not on Monday Monday Morning Quarterback and -- -- We're interested in providing this very valuable. Commodity to Americans do so clearly. I want to by affordable health insurance. -- -- Today the president mentioned. Being attacked people from outside government HHS. Blog yesterday last. Game. -- three companies involved. Public for us. Well I would say a couple of things that. The -- surges on the it was announced that HHS and they are bringing in top experts both from inside and outside the government to scrub in with their team. And help -- -- the health care dot gov website user. Additional contractors as well as a few experts who are part of the presidential innovation fellows program which was started by the president in his first year. -- rather his first term and it -- top innovators from the private sector. Nonprofits and academia with top innovators within government to collaborate in terms of you know that it. Who they are individually in the contractors those the kinds of questions that. You should addressed HHS and C and that since this is. Something they've launched and our working on right now. Yes as the president warehouse workers secretaries -- testify here. Secretary Sebelius and others senior members of HHS have of course engaged with and testified before congress on. A CA issues and ACA implementation and I'm sure. That. The department I know that the department has made clear that they are willing to testify. And will be willing in the future -- -- Specifics about. -- requests to individual departments and officials who will be made available I'd refer you to those departments messaging standpoint this. -- take -- -- White House as an expert that we your teeth. Health professional thing here. I think you heard the president speak today I think secretary Sebelius and many others at HHS have and will continue to speak about implementation of the Affordable Care Act going forward. You know. Whether or not it's. Messaging challenge. Is. Interesting and and I were the subject of discussion and analysis the challenge that is far more important in terms of what the focus of the president is has to do with making sure that Americans get affordable health insurance that they so clearly want and they go and that's why -- HHS has taken the steps that have been announced overnight and you can see clearly on the web -- because we're focused on making sure that it. Obvious and demonstrated desire for information about. These marketplaces and information about the tax credits that are available to so many Americans that will make. Insurance affordable for them for the first time it is available to them and that they know how they can get that information. And it 24/7 seven -- -- obvious that includes seven days a week 24 hours a day seven days a week. Experts are working on fixing the problems identifying problems isolating them and making the consumer experience. Better for Americans across. Country last question he said and -- the still standing by the argument -- -- what types of problems because of unexpectedly high demand and how you reconcile that over the fact that. The law promises to insure millions Americans houses unexpected that millions of people would try to slow them. What I said the matter is that there's no question that the volume. Has caused some of the problems but also expose some of the problems and expected that. Look at the the fact is the number of people who. At him accessed. Health -- -- web -- on the first day and every day since has far exceeded expectations and we can Monday morning well. I think we noted early on that it did exceeded within a few days what southwest.com. Southwest Airlines dot com gets -- a month so. There's no question that. The folks to. -- you know made guesses about and even educated guesses about the volume were off. And that the test therefore that proceeded to launch. Were based on. -- -- that turn out to be way below we saw and nobody is making excuses for what we're focused on. Is fixing the problems so that the consumer experiences improved and making clear to Americans that they can. Enroll that they can -- And that they can purchase insurance. That will be available to them come January 1. Bit. At prices that they could not before now. Envisioned getting with the kind of quality coverage that they couldn't. Korea exchange. To follow us on numerous questions you're seeing any structural problem. The website -- to -- is not part of the issue. Let me first say that I do not have. The degree in computer science or -- level expertise that was. Allow me to answer in depth questions about the architecture. A program like this what I can say is that volume. -- -- -- let anyone wouldn't someone within HHS communicated that the White House at this point what I can tell you Rihanna is that volume. Exceeded expectations dramatically. And it -- both. Cause problems and -- problems -- The president made clear he's frustrated with. He he made clear that he's not satisfied with the the consumer experience that a lot of the folks out there had and that's why. HHS and CM acetate is have been taking the actions they taking have already introduced improvements to the website have made clear to Americans across the country that. There are ways to enroll through the toll free number in person. As well as by mail. You know we're focused on getting. The Americans who -- -- sitting getting affordable health insurance because they don't already have it through their employer. The information they need so that they can shop and make choices on it cannot. I mean all observers I think you have -- there's a problem that and that's why this stage it devastating. Natural. -- -- -- -- -- -- Computer experts on. Those kind of technical details what. What I can tell you is -- as the president said as HHS have said. They are working 24/7. To deal with the website issues I would simply note. -- -- The family of four out there. -- has enrolled to purchase insurance. At prices they could not previously enjoyed. Even if they had to struggle through the website -- call the 800 number. Are getting something that is very valuable to them and that is what this is about it is providing security. To millions of Americans. Affordable quality health insurance. That they did not have people. And. It's big knowledge in the problems that it existed with piece of this. We have to focus and we are focused on making sure did it. Those people for whom the Affordable Care Act was written. And conceived. Aren't getting the services and the benefits that they deserve. -- obviously. Wind this up and running on day one as the problems with the web site. -- and -- not immediately resolved as -- -- to delaying the penalty for not signing up insurance. What I can tell you Rihanna is that we are as I said earlier to three weeks rather into a six month enrollment period and Americans. Americans to. Americans who have access to affordable insurance would need to have insurance by march 31. People who do not have access to affordable care due to a state not expanding Medicaid for example or due to other factors will not be penalized that's part of the existing law. In terms that -- the February 15. Date that you just mentioned HHS can provide more information and there's no question there's a disconnect between open enrollment and and the individual responsible. Responsibility time friends in the first year. Only in those are going to be addressed but. The fact is we are focused now in the beginning of the fourth week at the end of the third week of a six month process. On making sure this. -- Americans out there understand that there are a variety of ways. To get the information about the health care plans available to them. The tax credits available to them and a variety of ways to enroll purchase insurance. There's flexibility -- on the -- Books I would simply refer you to AJ just for more details but we're working -- they are working. On aligning those policies. The enrollment period in the individual responsibility time -- period and -- issue guidance. -- -- -- -- -- -- Do you think you can get -- given all the problems that we've seen people try to roll in this program. Is the way that's going to be the -- -- and Andy let's. That's not always. I was saying the -- here's you know we've done. What ought not to let you charge people find -- -- -- we're really weeks and that a six month enrollment period. As I said the law itself as written. Makes clear that Americans who have access to affordable insurance would need to have insurance by march 31. The people who do -- happen. Do example to a state not expanding Medicaid and their states out there who are depriving. Their own residents. Access to expanded Medicaid because they made that choice or did other factors will not be -- that's number one. And when it comes to the issue I was just talking to bring on -- about. And the February 15 marker period in terms of enrollment I would were freed HHS for more details but they are working to align policies. The disconnect between the open enrollment period and the individual responsibility time friends which which exists on the first -- -- But the point I'm trying to make John and it addressing that that the question at the end of your question is. We're focused on providing. Quality health insurance to millions of Americans we -- three weeks into a six month enrollment here. If you enrolled last week where you enroll next week your insurance does not kick in until January 1 and ample prior experience shows that in programs like these most people. Don't enroll -- tilt towards the end if you're able to shop for an extended period of time before you have to buy you likely to shop and mass. Or. Health care initiative was passed and the law. The average consumer. Explored his or her options. Six to eight times I believe the figure was before actually making decisions so again we're acknowledging. Clearly as the president did that the problems that existed on the website are not acceptable to him -- it. We are focused on making the consumer experience better. Few Americans about the variety of ways that you get the information about plans. As well as the variety of ways they can roll to them and our focus is on. Making -- Affordable Care Act work and making sure that Americans have access to these -- not on. You know figuring out who's to blame for a problem they clearly system we need to fix. Basic -- terms. You can't really charge people fine for not getting health -- you don't fix this mess -- -- -- network and you. I appreciate what you're saying and I have answered now and we'll answer again people who usually what what -- -- -- -- -- the website is not fixed. Well people still -- to pay. First of all. -- way. It's still early in the process so you're talking about it February 15 and march -- first deadline it is October 21 today. So let's be clear about that -- three weeks into this. And that's number one number two as written the law makes clear that people who do not have access to affordable care. Due to a state not expanding Medicaid or other factors will not be penalized. All the factors could be its website again -- helped cause written let's we were focused on implementing. And and the law and ensuring that people have the information. They need. What. I think is important to remember is that even through this people are. -- people are. Submitting applications. Success. And we need to make sure that we're doing everything we can because the interest is so high and the demand is so. Did the consumer experience is as good as possible and it. Every American out there who's interested in getting affordable health insurance because he -- she has in the past had it available to him -- Is getting the information they need and getting it in a way that allows them to make the educated choices. About the variety of plans available to them that they need to make it. The main contractor that built this website CGI they were fired by Ontario Canada. Opera problems up there didn't do. Administration choose the wrong people to build -- website but there -- a lot of people working on this -- -- -- -- -- HS about contractors that's not something. That the White House overseas. The president. Make clear today did. He's not satisfied with. What the consumer experience is with the web site. And the administration HHS and -- -- -- Are working 24/7 to improve the experience -- -- the contract for top dollar was started at 93 million dollars if we're not. To 292 million was where -- now where is that money coming from I would refer you to HHS for questions about HHS contracts. Made -- Paul's Lutheran church and so you're saying we mention other factors. That this. White house Press Secretary Jay Carney addressed the concerns of the still leaching out -- dot gov website. Of course that being three weeks into the open enrollment at the Affordable Care Act. I wanna go to our political director Rick Klein has been watching this news conference as well Rick Jay Carney up -- talk about the upside that shoppers can still view their choices even if they can't actually sign up and it role. But the White House -- not said exactly how many people have signed up at this point. That's right and a lot that they're not saying and my judgment a tactical. Political and error in the way that they are approaching this we were told today would be dated president -- up some of the mistakes and in says -- are fixing up we had a touch of that but mostly. This has been a commercial for the obamacare health care law and we've heard over and over again about the great things it's going to do. The president one point and he even -- the parts of the law are exceeding expectations. No one's gotten health -- yet they won't until January and as you know we don't know anything about the number of people that have signed up to these new federal exchanges. We know a lot about the -- a lot about the frustrations a lot of other problems we just had our own John -- asking repeatedly. -- -- on how the contract. That was under a hundred million dollars ended up costing the federal government 400 million dollars -- these problems we're not hearing a -- answer from the White House will there be fines. -- -- people that don't get health care if his website hasn't fixed and pronto so so many questions still out there in the White House there was damage control. And in the White House and Jake parties to -- fact that some of the volumes have actually caused problems and expose problems with the program as it's been -- -- That's right and that was it a bit of a shift and I -- how much Jay -- is trying to walk that back for. At the first couple of weeks the White House was saying it's because too many people are trying to get on the web -- servers crashing all kinds -- They are now admitting -- that there are underlying problems what those problems are though. We're not told we're not being told that we are told that there isn't that what they're saying the best and the brightest or working on it we're not -- how much how fast they're working on it when things will be fixed how much they're being paid to fix a 400 million dollar web site. Itself Bart been a mistake so. I think that the White House is the is -- try to spin stories about the great things that this health care law is doing. They're hard pressed -- -- mine in for as long as we don't know the details of what's actually happening with this law's implementation. And the buying it is obviously crucial and I wanna take a look at a new the poll that just came out of public reaction to this. ABC news Washington Post post 66% of Americans actually support the law vs 33%. That oppose it so it would appear -- that there is support in fact for this to permit the White House went and a huge public campaign. Tickets in the details out. That's right the numbers around the Obama health care like getting a little bit bigger but more than half of folks also in that same poll said that they think that the problems of the web site. Are not one -- they are they're actually symptomatic of the problems with the water implementation of this law they're not believing this is just technical problems that there's a structural issue here. And it will be does well in the in the medium and longer term than those structural issues that whether they work out -- -- -- going to be whether this law works or not. What the premiums cost what the health care is like once it's in effect. With the balance is like between older and sicker folks vs younger and healthier folks in terms of getting health -- that's was gonna make the Obama health care law work. The problems they're having with the roll out -- it's discouraging people from getting on line. That tends to tip the balance -- on the finances. -- -- -- matters is that this that fact could deter other go from sign up a major concern for the administration. A major concern -- And they said all along they didn't expect people to Toronto on day one -- sign up for health care because you don't get the January either. I don't know valued and I can't believe these things the last minute I think a lot of people do they do some browsing -- do some shopping. For the fact that browsing and that shopping experience has been so bad for so many millions of people trying to get on line. That's a bad sign for how the laws structured in the judgment of many it could lead to larger problems in terms of how this laws gonna play out next year and beyond. -- what we of one of the big opponents on the Affordable Care Act senator Ted Cruz a fairly young senator. Today the US chamber of commerce CEO Tom Donahue didn't speak too highly of him at a press conference on -- listen -- -- I sort of think of -- as a tennis player. You know you're gonna rush the net all the time you better have a lot of -- to the left in the right. Yet prove that to -- yet. The business community would like him to sit down job. -- that -- one thing we could work. -- Now correct -- chamber of commerce usually leans conservative but not necessarily a fan of the Tea Party right now. This is the split inside the Republican Party right now business interests led by the chamber are concerned about the direction that the party. Has taken under the Ted Cruz and Tea Party direction. In these last couple weeks play that out in perfect form you had. -- the -- old men and women there of the Republican Party saying a government shutdown as a disaster we shouldn't be talking about coming up against the debt ceiling -- Ted -- though. And a -- of Tea Party affiliated Republicans in the house and the senate. Who took us to the very brink of default the question for to my mind will be where do they take this frustration to be taken into Republican primaries we know the Tea Party -- Our plane races across the country trying to unseat establishment conservative Republican senators with new upstart folks who -- more Tea Party in their leanings. Does the business community counter there's been talk of that. Did they go in and spend a a lot of money try to defend some of their allies in congress the people that see things through more of the mean streets left Wall Street point of view. Has -- most of that Tea Party point of view. After -- and acquittal have to wait and see how those primaries will be playing out next couple of weeks ABC's -- in Washington DC Rick thank you so much of that. -- with the report on abcnews.com. For now -- -- New York with ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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