White House Press Secretary Jay Carney refused to answer what the Obama administrations goal for Obamacare exchanges November 30th date are. Carney dodged CNN's Brianna Keilar's question a total of seven times during Wednesday press briefing.
Keilar asked Carney "what is the goal because when you say vast majority it sounds like the people who are actually on the ground or I understand it to be the case the people who are actually on the ground working out the technical fixes for healthcare.gov don’t know what that means."
Carney could only respond with a non-answer "I think it reflects — and I would point you to briefers at CMS for more details, including Jeff Zeints, who has addressed this. The realistic goal of the site working as it was intended to — i.e. smoothly for the vast majority of users"
Below is a transcript of the exchange:
Q: You're sort of, I think, sketching out a scenario of what the website functionality may look like come November 30th, where you said, you know, some people will be experiencing delays still.
MR. CARNEY: Well, I'm just guessing that as is the case with every major website that I've ever used, that it's not a perfect experience for everyone.
MR. CARNEY: So I just don't want to — I want to anticipate for you that even if we meet our goal — which we're assessing regularly — the progress toward it — of having the website working smoothly for the vast majority of users by November 30th, that we will — we can both meet that goal and have individual experiences reported back to us that are less than satisfactory. And I think that that will be — those will be tackled in the same manner that the more serious and higher volume problems have been tackled heretofore.
Q: But what is the goal? When you say vast majority, I mean, it sounds like the people who are actually on the — or I understand it to be the case that the people who are actually on the ground, working out the technical fixes for healthcare.gov, don't know what that means.
MR. CARNEY: I think —
Q: Is that rhetoric, or is it an operational goal?
MR. CARNEY: I think it reflects — and I would point you to briefers at CMS for more details, including Jeff Zeints, who has addressed this. The realistic goal of the site working as it was intended to — i.e. smoothly for the vast majority of users — and I think that —
Q: What does that mean, the "vast majority"?
MR. CARNEY: I think it means what I'm — what I'm saying, which is that we do not and would not set a goal, and should never have set a goal —
Q: Well, there has to be a number, right?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I don't have a number attached to that. I think that, again, it would be hard to pinpoint, when you're getting anecdotal cases of individuals who have not had a satisfactory experience, what that percentage represents.
Q: But you were citing — I mean, Park is on the Hill today citing how many people can go on the website. You know the number of how many people can —
MR. CARNEY: Right, but what — today is November 13th. What I'm saying is in the goal that we're setting —
Q: But, so —
MR. CARNEY: — we know we have a —
Q: So what is the number goal, the "vast majority"?
MR. CARNEY: A vast majority. I mean, there's a number goal of concurrent users. That's what Todd Park was taking about today I believe in his testimony. And, you know, there are a number of goals in terms of volume capacity. And I think others were testifying, or someone else was testifying, about the number of people who are registering or signing up in an hour.
Q: So there is no number — so there's no number goal.
MR. CARNEY: Brianna, I think that — again, we're talking about November 30th and we're talking about having the website function effectively for the vast majority of users. And I'm being, I think, very clear here, as I was yesterday, by saying that that does not mean, and nor should you or do we expect it to mean, that there will not be, even if we meet that goal, any individuals out there who didn't have the website time out or didn't have an eight-second delay for one page loading, because that happens, as it does I think for all of us, on websites every day.
Q: Does it meet the president's rubric when you're talking about some people experiencing delays? So presumably, because you won't commit to a number, that could be a sizable number. Does that meet with what he said a week ago where he said we can anticipate —
MR. CARNEY: I think it would be the other side of a vast majority.
Q: — that this is going to be working the way it is supposed to?
MR. CARNEY: Yeah, for the vast majority of users.
Q: He didn't say that.
MR. CARNEY: OK. It should be working the way it was — it's supposed to be working. And that means that for the vast majority of users, it's working smoothly. They have a satisfactory experience, that the wait times are not problematic, that the pages move through quickly, they don't get error messages, and they're able to shop and successfully register and enroll in a way that allows them to feel comfortable with the process. That's the goal