Obamacare Timeline: What Did Obama Know and When Did He Know It?
White House and the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department claim
President Barack Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held
“countless” one-on-one private meetings to work together on Obamacare.
They have, however, stonewalled requests by reporters to
release the dates of the alleged and undocumented meetings--none of which appear on the official White House calendar.
On Tuesday, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) sent Sebelius a letter requesting a detailed list of the days she alleges to have met privately with Obama and blasting her "lack of transparency and disregard for straight answers."
The reason for Obama and Sebelius's obfuscation over the President's level of executive leadership, oversight, and management of the Obamacare debacle is simple. If the Obama administration’s list of alleged
one-on-one meetings between Obama and Sebelius contains a single
meeting between April 4, 2013, and October 1, 2013, the White House is
in danger of revealing President Obama to have been dishonest during his
now-infamous November 14, 2013, press conference wherein he uttered this curiously worded phrase:
I was not informed directly
[emphasis added] that the website would not be working as—the way it
was supposed to. Had I been informed, I wouldn’t be going out saying,
‘Boy, this is going to be great.’ You know, I’m accused of a lot of
things, but I don’t think I’m stupid enough to go around saying, ‘this
is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity,’ a week before
the website opens, if I thought that it wasn’t going to work. So,
clearly, we and I did not have enough awareness about the problems in
The timeline below chronicles that the administration knew months before HealthCare.gov’s
disastrous October 1 rollout that critical problems existed, and it is
riddled with embarrassing statements and mistakes that raise serious
questions about what Obama knew and when he knew it.
Obama’s trustworthiness, credibility, and approval ratings now nosediving, the White House and Democrats cannot afford further erosion
of the public's perception of Obama's leadership, especially among independent voters who weigh effectiveness traits more heavily than ideological positions. How
voters judge Obama’s performance as the chief executive tasked with
leading and managing his signature legislative achievement, Obamacare,
will have dramatic consequences on the outcome of the 2014 midterm
March 23, 2010: President Barack Obama signs the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) into law.
April 4, 2013: According to a 15-page McKinsey & Co. document
obtained by the Energy and Commerce Committee, Secretary Sebelius,
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn
Tavenner, and others are warned in a briefing that an ideal situation
would be “end-to-end integrated operations and IT testing,” but that the
situation at the time was one with “insufficient time and scope of
end-to-end testing.” The document also cautions that a “limited initial
launch” would be ideal, but that a “launch at full volume” was, instead,
the plan, reported NBC News.
April 18, 2013: In
committee testimony, Secretary Sebelius fails to mention the April 4
warnings from McKinsey & Co. Instead, she promises: “We are on track
and the contracts have been led and we are monitoring it every step
along the way… I can tell you we are on track.”
July 16, 2013: Healthcare.gov Manager Henry Chao states in an email
to CMS officials his low level of confidence in contractor work,
saying, “I just need to feel more confident they are not going to crash
the plane at take-off.”
August 6, 2013: Amid concerns that HealthCare.gov’s
SHOP small business marketplace may be delayed, CMS Office of
Information Services Director Monique Outerbridge sends officials an email
that reads: “Guys, this is absolutely urgent and I need an answer on
this today. If this is late we have to public [sic] announce we are late
with a deliverable which means [CMS Adminstrator] Marilyn Tavenner and
the Secretary will have to announce.”
September 30, 2013: According to the New York Times, documents
released by House investigators reveal that “the ‘testing bulletin’
suggested the website as of Sept. 30 could handle only about 1,100 users
at a time, even though officials had said it should have been able to
accommodate perhaps as many as 60,000.”
October 1, 2013: The $630 million HealthCare.gov online insurance marketplace goes live and crashes minutes after launch.
October 13, 2013: White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough adds a nightly 7 o’clock meeting in his office to demand updates. According to the New York Times,
"For weeks, aides to Ms. Sebelius had expressed frustration with Mr.
McDonough, mocking his 'countdown calendar,' which they viewed as micromanagement."
October 22, 2013: In a CNN interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Secretary Sebelius claims that the first time President Obama learned of the Healthcare.gov
problems was “the first couple of days” after the site went live on
Oct. 1, 2013. “But not before that?” Dr. Gupta followed up. “No, sir,”
November 14, 2013: President Barack Obama claims
in a White House press conference: “I was not informed directly that
the website would not be working as—the way it was supposed to. Had I
been informed, I wouldn’t be going out saying, ‘Boy, this is going to be
great.’ You know, I’m accused of a lot of things, but I don’t think I’m
stupid enough to go around saying, ‘this is going to be like shopping
on Amazon or Travelocity,’ a week before the website opens, if I thought
that it wasn’t going to work. So, clearly, we and I did not have enough
awareness about the problems in the website.”
November 29, 2013: President Obama says
in an ABC News interview with Barbara Walters, “We’re evaluating
why it is exactly that I didn’t know soon enough that it wasn’t going to
work the way it needed to. But my priority now has been to just make
sure that it works.”
December 4, 2013: GAI President Peter Schweizer appears on Hannity to announce the findings of the GAI's forthcoming report on President Obama and Sec. Sebelius's lack of one-on-one meetings in the years leading up to the launch of HealthCare.gov.
December 5, 2013: Politico Magazine publishes an article by Government Accountability Institute President Peter Schweizer highlighting the GAI's study that found the White House’s official calendar lists zero
one-on-one meetings between President Obama and Sec. Sebelius from July
12, 2010, to Nov. 30, 2013 (the full range of dates available on the
calendar), and that Obama met 277 times during that period with other
Cabinet secretaries. The GAI study also analyzed the Politico presidential calendar and found a single recorded meeting on April 21, 2010, which also included then-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
December 6, 2013: HHS Spokesperson Joanne Peters claims in a statement:
“Secretary Sebelius has been to the White House countless times since
becoming Secretary. She is frequently at the White House for meetings
related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including
dozens with the President in the last year alone. In fact, she met with
the President just yesterday.”
Also on December 6, NBC News reporter Peter Alexander asks
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney whether the GAI’s report “draws
some questions about the president's leadership skills as the chief
executive.” Carney claims
the GAI report “is based on a ridiculously false premise.” ABC News
reporter Jonathan Karl then followed up with two additional questions on
the GAI’s report. Carney says that “Cabinet secretaries don’t regularly
get entered into the White House visitors logs, [though] they come
frequently. Kathleen Sebelius comes frequently, and she meets frequently
with the President.” Carney added that it is “safe to say Kathleen
Sebelius has been one of the more frequent attendees to meetings with
GAI President Peter Schweizer offers the following response in a Politico Magazine update:
The White House’s response to the GAI calendar investigation is absurd and alarming.
Secretary Jay Carney said Friday, “Cabinet secretaries don’t regularly
get entered into the visitor logs.” The GAI report was not based on
visitor logs; it was based on the White House’s own calendar and the
POLITICO presidential calendar.
calendar lists 277 one-on-one meetings between the president and his
other Cabinet secretaries, including 73 with former Secretary Clinton
and 57 with former Secretary Geithner. If, as Carney claims, Secretary
Sebelius “is here a lot and meets with the president with regularity,”
why aren’t they listed? How many meetings took place and when did they
occur? Carney said he doesn’t know.
if Obama and Sebelius worked together closely and regularly, why did
the president publicly state he did not know about the problems with HealthCare.gov?
the name of transparency, Americans deserve to know how much time
President Obama personally spent over three-and-a-half years leading,
managing and working alongside Secretary Sebelius on his signature
December 7, 2013: On CNN’s Newsroom, David Gergen, former counselor to four U.S. presidents, including Pres. Clinton, discusses the GAI report and says,
"I don’t think this is simply sloppiness on the part of the White
House. What seems to me is there’s a case of near
malfeasance here,” and he called the revelation a big deal. “The fact that
he was not meeting with her one-on-one, I think, frankly, is not so much
an indictment of her but of the White House operation," he said. Gergen also said that "at the same time three years pass with no one-on-one
meetings according to this Politico article, the President had 277 one-on-one meetings with other members of his cabinet.”
December 11, 2013:
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appears to testify before the House Energy
and Commerce Committee. When Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) asks Sebelius
about her one-on-one meetings with Obama, the HHS Secretary appears flustered:
"How many times did you actually visit with the President since 2009 or 2010 when you came on board?" asked Rep. Phil Gingrey
(R-GA), who is also a medical doctor. "How many personal visits did you
have with him at the White House regarding the Affordable Care Act?"
"A lot," said Sebelius.
"Can you verify that?" asked Gingrey.
The chair then said, "The Gentleman's time has expired."
"I, I...," a flustered Sebelius said while raising her hands in the air.
Following the hearing, Rep. Gingrey tells
Breitbart News that Sebelius’s “evasiveness” and her inability “to
answer basic questions” have prompted him to ask Sebelius to settle the
issue once and for all and to tell Sebelius to turn over the precise
dates of the “countless” one-on-one meetings she claims to have had with
Obama in the over three-and-a-half years leading up to Obamacare’s
evening, Fox News host Sean Hannity asks Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) the
following: “Have we been able to confirm if they had any meetings since
“Not to my knowledge. No. Look, this is inexcusable,” said
Lee. “This is absolutely unpardonable, the fact that there was this
little oversight going on in the launching of this significant an
enterprise—an enterprise in which the government is very ill equipped to
December 17, 2013: Rep. Phil Gingrey sends Sebelius a letter requesting a list of the dates she alleges to have met with President Obama--dates that do not appear on the White House's official calendar.
ABC News, FOX News, NBC News, CNN, Politico Magazine, Breitbart News, TIME, Washington Post, Daily Caller, TownHall, Kansas City Star,
NewsMax, and other media outlets have all covered the Government
Accountability Institute’s (GAI) report showing that the White House
calendar and Politico presidential calendar list just a single
one-on-one meeting between President Barack Obama and Health and Human
Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius from the day Obamacare was
signed into law (March 23, 2010) to November 30, 2013.
to date, neither the White House nor HHS have released the “countless”
dates during which each claims Obama and Sebelius held one-on-one
meetings over three-and-a-half years of work on Obamacare, a program
that affects one-sixth of the U.S. economy and will cost taxpayers $2.6 trillion over the next decade.