OTR Interviews

Ongoing 'glitches': Signs that ObamaCare wasn't ready for rollout, is really D.O.A?

Former congressman Allen West takes on the problems with the ObamaCare website and whether the Affordable Care Act will ever be truly ready for primetime


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 17, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Right now the disastrous launch of the ObamaCare exchanges. And now two weeks later, the enrollment system, it's still badly broken.

Former Congressman Allen West joins us.

Good evening, sir.

ALLEN WEST, FORMER FLA. CONGRESSMAN: Good evening. How you doing, Greta?

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well. So the ObamaCare exchanges, at best, everyone is describing them broken. I'm not hearing an enormous amount of success stories. What should happen?

WEST: Well, I think one of the things that I learned by being in the military is you're supposed to rehearse something before you launch it. So we've had about three years-plus with the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare, and this should have been something they rehearsed and run some test cases. You know, when you think about how brilliant the Obama campaign runs itself as far as social media and websites and what have you, why did it not transition over to this incredible decision that people have to make as far as their health care?

And this is another reason why we continue to -- must continue to have this discussion about this individual mandate, and why should it be delayed. Because by the end of the year, if you do not have -- have not signed up for health care, well, next year the IRS is going to be asking you if you do or if you do not have health care coverage. And for those people that are dependent upon getting their health care coverage through the ObamaCare exchanges, if they've not been able to do that, they should not have to pay the tax that is going to be assessed against them.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Step away, which you have, of course, in the U.S. Congress. I'm curious what you think about the Republicans in the House and those who have made efforts to defund ObamaCare, and especially in this last sort of bruising political fight. Where do you stand on their strategy?

WEST: Well, I just want to say we're rolling out our own website, Alanbwest.com, tonight at 8:00. And I wrote a piece comparing the Cruz-Lee strategy to what happened back in 1944 during World War II. And I called that "Strategy and Tactics," and I talk about a bridge too far. And I believe, really, when you sit down and go back and assess what has happened over the past two or three weeks, it would have been better if you had narrowly focused on, you know, key tactical objectives such as making sure that the ObamaCare law applies to everyone across the board. If you have an employer mandate delay, you should have an individual mandate delay. You should not have the waivers and exemptions being granted after this has supposedly been signed into law. And then also the medical device tax, that's another thing that everyone agrees with. If we're talking about jobs and medical technology innovation, we should not have this medical device tax.


VAN SUSTEREN: But wait, wait, wait. Stop. Let me just stop you for a second. The whole idea of fairness is if we're all going to have the mandate, everyone is going to have the mandate, you're not going to gerrymander it so some people don't have it. That medical tax --

WEST: Sure.

VAN SUSTEREN: -- that medical device tax, whether you love it or hate it, that really was part of the law in the beginning. Everybody had a chance to read it. Now, Republicans voted against the law.

WEST: They didn't read it.

VAN SUSTEREN: I know they didn't. They could have had a chance to. The Republicans voted against it. And now the Democrats, who suddenly want that, quote, "fixed, or eliminated," are the ones who have medical device manufacturers in their districts. You know, so all of the sudden, now some sort of want to gerrymander that out. Under your theory, either it applies to all of us or it doesn't.

WEST: That's the whole point. I think that's the argument that should have been made by the Republicans, be it the Senate Republicans and the House Republicans. And they should have had a unified front, because every American can agree with that. I'm happy to see we do have the income verification for the subsidy requests. But we should not have a House and a Senate and also a White House that are exempt from this.

VAN SUSTEREN: How can you possibly think this income verification -- I mean, I think we should have it. Believe me, we shouldn't have people getting subsidies not entitled to it, and those who are entitled should get it. But if we can't do the roll-out for the enforcement via the computer, what in the world makes anyone think that this verification system is going to work?

WEST: Well, you're absolutely right. When you look at the fact that the roll-out and the tracking and the website has been a complete disaster, I don't think that the government, the HHS or whoever is in charge of this thing is going to be adequately capable of making sure the income verification. I kind of believe they signed up for it knowing that they're not going to be able to fulfill it.

VAN SUSTEREN: So now what happens?

WEST: I think that what happens now is you continue to talk about the shortcomings, the faults and failures. We try to get this thing fixed. I think there is a big concern that if Americans cannot sign up for this by the end of the year, they should be granted some type of exemption. They should not be hit with a tax. The Supreme Court kind of made a faux pas with that decision in the first place. But the American people should not suffer because of the incompetence of the federal government and the Obama administration. So we need to continue to hone in on that.

And as I've been reading, I think it's only about 51,000 to 52,000 people across the United States of America have actually signed up and gotten an insurance policy through the Affordable Care Act exchange website. So that's not a success story.

VAN SUSTEREN: I literally have 10 seconds left. Are you going to run for the Senate from the state of Florida in the next opportunity that you have?

WEST: Well, as a southern man, they tell you to write your plans in pencil and give God the eraser. So we'll see what happens coming down the pike. You'll be the first to know.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you leaning towards it?

All right. I won't hold you to that.

Thank you, Congressman.