E-mail Shows WH Had ‘Fear’ ObamaCare Website Wouldn’t Work Prior to Launch

Posted by on Nov 20, 2013 at 8:29 pm

But Obama, just a passerby, has no knowledge, we’ll be told.  Wait until he reads about this in the papers.

A top tech official for the ObamaCare exchanges said just days before the launch of the troubled health law website that people inside the White House were nervous the site would be unavailable after its launch and would be a big embarrassment, Fox News has learned.

A Sept. 25 email chain from HealthCare.gov project manager Henry Chao, obtained by Fox News, suggests Obama administration officials had more fears than they let on publicly that the website would have problems before its Oct. 1 launch.

In the email to a number of apparent colleagues, Chao suggests the administration should design a more palatable way to tell the public that the website was not working in case it failed after the launch, saying that such a move could help prevent the media from “just ramping up the hyperbole about hc.gov not [being] functional.”

They found the Obama way to tell the public: A big fuck you.

The email refers to a meeting the previous day, Sept. 24, that included White House Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and CMS chief Marilyn Tavenner.

“When Todd Park and Marilyn was (sic) here yesterday one of the things Todd conveyed was this fear the WH has about hc.gov being unavailable,” wrote Chao.

He added of Park: “He will come back again and ask on 9/30 because after knowing him for the past 3+ years I can tell when he will hang on to something for a long time. Todd does have a good point and I think we should have a more comprehensive answer as to how we will ensure high availability.”

Chao also attached to the email an image of HealthCare.gov saying, “The system is down at the moment. We’re working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Please try again later.”

A White House official tells Fox News the “fear” referenced in the email refers to warnings that glitches were likely during the rollout, as with any rollout of a major website.

It’s not plausible to claim Obama had no knowledge of this.  But he’ll try.

President Obama told reporters at a Nov. 14 news conference he was never told directly of the problems with the website before its launch.

“I was not informed directly that the website would not be working as — the way it was supposed to,” he said.

You’ll never guess what’s on p. 6 of the email (click to enlarge):



Henry Chao knew what was coming:

“Can you think about a better way to convey to the public when the site is not available?” wrote Chao. “I am picturing in my mind all the major print and online publications taking screenshots of what is below and just ramping up the hyperbole about hc.gov not [being] functional.”

Update: For the record, Kathleen Sebelius claimed on October 22 Obama had no knowledge of the website problems beforehand.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday that President Obama had no prior knowledge of the problems that HealthCare.gov would face upon its rollout.

Speaking on CNN’s AC360, Sebelius was pressed on when the president learned about the technical issues surrounding the ObamaCare website. The Health and Human Services secretary said it “became clear” to the president “in the first couple of days,” but that Obama didn’t know about the problems until after the Oct. 1 rollout.

So he’s either the most disengaged president ever or he’s lying. Think about it: Your entire legacy is on the line, and five days prior to launch you had no knowledge of this email? It’s simply not credible.

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