Obama taps ex-adviser to retool Obamacare website

4:35 AM, Oct 23, 2013   |    comments
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(CBS News) WASHINGTON -- Jeffrey Zients, the man tapped to fix the Obamacare website, is the former acting director of the White House budget office, but he's better known for leading three business management companies.

White House spokesman Jay Carney acknowledged that better management at the Department of Health and Human services is what the website needs right now.

"HHS will be tapping his experience and expertise as they address the challenges that have come up with the administration of the website," Carney said at the daily White House press briefing Tuesday.

Three weeks ago, healthcare.gov opened to the public and essentially crashed on the spot. The administration has repeatedly blamed the number of people visiting the site, but the volume issue has been repaired.

Now there are new problems in name registration, in eligibility questions and in the most important step of buying insurance.

William Winkenwerder is the CEO of Highmark Insurance in Pittsburgh, a company hoping for thousands of new customers. The website's problems have held enrollment to a fraction of that.

"Well, it's in the hundreds, so it's a fairly low number, given what we would have expected," Winkenwerder says. "My greatest concern is that people lose confidence in the system, generally."

Three committees in the House plan hearings on why the administration repeatedly promised the website would be ready, without a hint the site was in trouble. Officials have since acknowledged the system was not well tested.

Sources tell CBS News the underlying software was riddled with junk computer code, which means, one expert said, "No way it was properly tested before it went live."

The White House is also reaching out to experts and companies in Silicon Valley, trying to tap their expertise for the rescue of healthcare.gov. But officials have declined to say which companies have been asked for this new level of help.

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