2 Ex-White House Aides: Obama Needs to Change HHS Leadership

Monday, 18 Nov 2013 01:33 PM

By Wanda Carruthers

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A change in leadership at key agencies is called for as a result of the problem-plagued rollout of Obamacare, former White House Press Secretary Roberts Gibbs said Monday.

Specifically, Gibbs suggested changes at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but he did not identify who should be fired or moved out.

But a change in leadership positions at the agencies, he insisted, would help win back trust in an administration still dealing with the fallout from the disastrous launch of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare program.

"One of the things to, sort of, instill confidence in leadership, after the rollout, is to make some sort of change in those that were responsible for the rollout. I don't think there is any doubt that, in order to give people confidence, they've got to make changes, particularly over at HHS and CMS," Gibbs said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," where he appears as a contributing commentator.

Story continues below video.

President Obama has maintained he was unaware the website would be problematic. Gibbs, who was the president's chief spokesman early in his administration, said he understood how no one on the president's staff would inform him of the issue.

"This is the signature initiative. And, if there is something that is not working, there's not exactly a big rush to get into the Oval Office and tell the boss," he said.

Meanwhile, Andrew Card, former chief of staff to President George W. Bush, also called Monday for leadership changes due to the Obamacare rollout. He described the healthcare law as a "real problem for millions of Americans" that's leaving them "confused."

"I wish that the president would make changes in his administration. I hope that they would work to solve the problem, rather than just cite other people who had problems, and try to blame them," Card said on "Fox & Friends."

As a former chief of staff who also worked for former President George H.W. Bush, Card insisted he had difficulty understanding how the White House staff or President Obama could be unaware of the problems with the healthcare program prior to its launch.

"It's not credible to me that somebody at the White House didn't know what was going on, and things were not going according to plan. And I suspect the president even knew," he said.

Card suggested Obama follow the actions of George W. Bush after Hurricane Katrina, bringing in Republicans as well as Democrats to work together to solve the problems.

"President Bush, even with Katrina, worked very well with a lot of Democrats and Republicans to try to mitigate the problems," Card said. "President Obama should learn from that."

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