Jonathan Karl Smacks Down Jay Carney Obamacare Lies

Video: Jonathan Karl Smacks Down Jay Carney Obamacare Lies – Transcript

PRESS BRIEFING BY PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

November 4, 2013

Jay Carney – Jon.

Q    Jay, as I’m sure you remember, the President went in the Rose Garden on October 21st and talked about troubles with the website and said you can bypass the website and apply by phone or in person, and even said that once you get somebody on the phone, you can — it usually takes about 25 minutes for an individual to apply, 45 minutes for a family.  A new memo released by the Government Reform Committee shows that CMS was talking about how the very same issues were affecting written applications, phone applications.  In fact, one of the memos says, at the end of the day, we are all stuck in the same queue because all those applications have to go through the website, have to go through the same computer system.  Did the President know that the very same problems would be facing consumers when they called on the phone when he said that they could apply in 25 minutes?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, Jon, as you know, the answer is, yes, as was reported widely at the time.  The whole point is that CMS is processing paper applications through healthcare.gov, but it bypasses the need to create an account.  And creating an account is what led to the bulk of issues for users in the initial days.

Initially, on the launch of the marketplaces on October 1st, you were not able to do that by phone, and in response to the troubles that users were having online — the unacceptable troubles that they were having, we bulked up the staffing of the call centers and made it possible for individuals to call and enroll, to sign up and bypass, most importantly, the creation of an account so that could be handled by the call-in centers.

These applications are then processed through healthcare.gov, and we’re working to fix healthcare.gov.  But in terms of the user experience, the whole point was to alleviate the frustration that so many Americans were having online, and to take that frustration away from them and allow a live person at a call-in center to handle their questions and their signups and their enrollment for them.

So I know this — I know it’s spoken in tones of dramatic revelation, but it was a known fact at the time.  We never pretended otherwise.  So I think, as you know because I know you’ve talked to people about this, that this is — the whole point was to beef up the call-in centers to give the American people who are looking for information a way to avoid some of the frustrations they were having online.

Q    But, Jay, I want to go back to exactly —

MR. CARNEY:  That would be that tone I’m talking about.  (Laughter.)

Q    I want to go back to exactly what the President said.  He said you can bypass the website and apply by phone or in person, and that it can be done in 25 minutes.  But these memos say that at the end of the day, we are all stuck in the same queue because they all have to go through the same portal.

MR. CARNEY:  Jon, I get it.  But the person who calls isn’t the one who continues to wait after the paper application is filled.

Q    Your mocking me is entertaining, but the President said that you could apply within 25 minutes.

MR. CARNEY:  That’s right.

Q    That was not true.

MR. CARNEY:  The work that you do — I think everybody else is looking quizzically because there’s a reason to be quizzical here.  You call up, you give your information, you get the questions answered that you need answered, and then they take over from there.  And then you find out what you’re eligible for and the process goes forward.

Q    In 25 minutes?

MR. CARNEY:  No, once your application is processed.  The point was to relieve some of the frustration that Americans were, understandably, experiencing.

Q    Well, why does it take 25 minutes?  Maybe you could clarify that.

MR. CARNEY:  If it’s an individual — roughly, this is on average — the interaction you have when you give the information and you bypass the creation of an account and you sign up, so that you didn’t have to do that online.  And then, to enroll, obviously you would be given the information you need.  That would be processed and you would find out how much you qualified for and you could be enrolled that way.

Q    But, Jay —

MR. CARNEY:  But obviously — but, Jon, we have never said that you wouldn’t — that the process, the endpoint in the process wouldn’t still have to go through healthcare.gov.  So this is not —

Q    Actually, that’s not true, Jay.  Look at your own words.  On October 21st, the same day, you said you can enroll over the phone, you can enroll in person.

MR. CARNEY:  Right.

Q    On October 23rd, you said there are four ways to enroll in the exchanges.  You didn’t say they all had to go through healthcare.gov.  You said there are four ways to enroll in the exchanges — by phone, in person —

MR. CARNEY:  Jon, you don’t have to go through healthcare.gov.

Q    — at local health centers, or by mail, or the website.  You said there were four different ways.  There’s only one way.  It all has to go through, as you just said, healthcare.gov.

MR. CARNEY:  I’m saying what I said and what everybody said — and, again, you can have this —

Q    I’ve got your quotes here.

MR. CARNEY:  — soliloquy by yourself, but the —

Q    No, I’m trying to understand why the President gave the American public the impression that they could imply — they could apply — not impression, told people they could apply in 25 minutes.

MR. CARNEY:  They can get on the phone and call.  And the paperwork is filled out for them and the process is taken over from there.

Q    And when do they enroll?

MR. CARNEY:  When their paperwork is processed through healthcare.gov.  But they don’t have to go online to do it is the point, Jon.  That was the whole purpose of while we are fixing the website, making it meet the standards that we set, that Americans could have this alternative way with beefed up staffing and new rules allowing the call-in centers to do this, the individuals on the call-in centers to do this, to provide that relief to Americans who are frustrated by the experience.

I’m not sure what you think you’ve discovered here, Jon, but, I mean, if you’re asking me —

Q    Are you being accurate when —

MR. CARNEY:  Yes, I am.

Q    — the President is saying you can bypass the website? Because you just that it all has to go through the website.  So which is it?

MR. CARNEY:  Jon, I think we’ve been through this.  You call, you have an experience with — you have a conversation with somebody in the call-in center.  You give them your information. They process it for you.  They bypass the creation of an account, which is where most of the bottlenecks were happening for users on the website.  Eventually, that still has to go through healthcare.gov.  But you’ve done the work with —

Q    — do the “eventually” part.

MR. CARNEY:  Jon, I give up.

Q    Well, let me — one more thing.  From Kathleen Sebelius — tell me if this was accurate.  This was October 24th.  She said, out of the Phoenix call center, a person on the other end of the phone can get questions answered up to 150 languages, as well as walk somebody all the way through the process and enroll at the end of the day.

MR. CARNEY:  Right, at the end of the day.  You give somebody your information — when you call up and sign up for something right now, Jon, and somebody takes your information and they process that, they process whatever it is you’re signing up for and enrolling in, they can do that once you’re off the phone. You don’t have to stay on the phone.  That’s the point, is to relieve Americans who were frustrated by the —

Q    She said you can enroll by the end of the day.  Is that right?  You can call somebody up and enroll —

     MR. CARNEY:  Jon, I think everybody else here understands what I’m saying.  I’m sorry I can’t say the same for you.

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