Interviews

How to fix ObamaCare website

Race against clock to find the solution

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 23, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: When Washington was on the brink, we were there busting heads, trying to work out a deal.

When the health care law was being cooked up in the kitchen, we were the first to tell you the chefs wanted no part of it.

When the nation was facing its first downgrade, we came in late that very night after a long dinner -- and a lot of drinks I might add -- to set the record straight.

Each time, every time, we have been there for you all the time. When it counted, you could count on us, you could count on me, your financial superhero, to save the day.

But, apparently, there is no rest for the weary, because this health care law I warned you years ago was spitting up blood and sucking in cash, so I guess it is up to me to fix it before the whole darn country tanks.

That's right. Your financial superhero who is on the spot is now your computer geek on the quick, because it's pretty clear that Washington doesn't know how to fix this monstrosity, and clearly doesn't know a thing about websites, like, I don't know, being able to see the website.

So, today, I'm all over with ways to fix it and fast, that will probably cost no more than a few hundred million, a billion tops. But it's money, right? Just money.

Time for the geek to get cracking now.

Well, at least I'm thinner in that one.

Welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: And as if I don't have enough to do, saving the country always the brink, now a huge computer on the fritz. This superhero is the first to admit he's all-powerful, but that doesn't mean he's all too handy.

But fortunately he's well-connected. I know a lot of you watching right now, "you really think he's a superhero." Tonight, I have used my super resources, actually my staff's super resources, i.e., Rolodexes, to put together our own uber-geek squad -- and, actually, these guys don't even look like geeks -- to get this high-tech turkey at least turning over.

With me now with some thoughts on how we can get this monstrosity doing what it was supposed to be doing, we have got web developer Eitan Magid and SpeedGeek's Yoav Erez.

Yoav, first thing, what do you do?

YOAV EREZ, OWNER AND PRESIDENT, SPEEDGEEK: Well, we fix computers.

If we have got a company that has troubles their systems, networks, anything that...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: This is the United States government.

EREZ: Well...

CAVUTO: And this looks pretty bad.

(CROSSTALK)

EREZ: We don't -- there's not a lot to do.

I would think they would -- a good solution would be to start off with maybe a simpler version of the website, because currently the website is not really functioning the way it was supposed to. Kind of back to the bulletin board approach seems about right at this point.

CAVUTO: That's like starting over, Eitan. If he's right, that's starting over. That takes time.

EREZ: Well...

EITAN MAGID, CEO, EMAGID: Neil, the problem here is bad planning and research from the get-go. Pouring money on a project and figuring out if it's going to work at the end just doesn't cut it for the government.

CAVUTO: They had three years, Eitan, to get this together.

MAGID: Exactly.

And what they need to do right now is go back to the drawing board and come up with a research plan that will target the user that's going to use this system and not just say everyone from the street. The phone availability of the system, someone is able to just go and call someone, tells me that someone planned for someone to call and not use an online application and kind of perceived to think that something was going to go wrong.

CAVUTO: So, the website kind of came after the fact?

MAGID: Exactly.

CAVUTO: Now, a lot of folks tell me -- and you guys are far smarter than I at this stuff, although I am a superhero -- that there was just not enough server capacity to deal with this.

EREZ: That's definitely true.

CAVUTO: So, many have said, well, we just got to throw in a lot of servers and get going. Is it that easy?

EREZ: That's -- that's -- that's part of the problem. But that only fixes the front end.

At the end of the day, you also have a problem of users not being created and I think the connection between the site and the insurance companies themselves, I think there's a problem as well.

CAVUTO: Oh, that's interesting. So, the companies have their own computer systems.

EREZ: Exactly.

CAVUTO: They're not exactly talking and communicating with this one.

EREZ: Exactly. That's part of why it's so -- such a complex system, because it has -- it's one website that has to talk to many, many, many different authorities.

CAVUTO: We're told that another problem is, once you get on it, you don't know how to navigate your way around it, that it's not very user-friendly. We have gotten onto the opening page here, and it looks like a wonderful opening page, so there's no way to attest to that.

But you think, Eitan, that the problem will be just to make it user-friendly extremely time- consuming, and then how would you make it more friendly, regardless of the time it takes?

MAGID: User interface is one of the main issues on this website.

To fix that, it is really too late. It's bad planning. You got to look ahead. To fix that...

CAVUTO: From what you have seen, then, you don't like the look of it?

MAGID: It's great for a media and a technology person that knows how to navigate themselves.

But for the average user, it's too techie, it's too media-oriented and needs to be scaled back. If you look at websites such as IRS, such as the immigration reform which they did with Homeland Security, those are more simple websites, easy to navigate through.

CAVUTO: Wait a minute. You are saying the IRS should handle this because they seem to be better at websites?

MAGID: No. I'm not saying that. I'm just saying -- and this goes back to the point with the servers -- load balancing was not performed. So, different markets load the system differently.

You have a place in Arkansas that might load 50,000, where a place in New York might get two million users. And no one considered that. And it just started with the system...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: See, if you know ahead of time you are going to have tens of millions of Americans signing up or at least looking at this. One of the early statistics we have, Yoav, is that better than 20 million have accessed or tried to access the site. A little bit more than 400,000 have at least completed whatever they need to do to get coverage.

That does not mean they have coverage, but they have gone through the rigors. That's not a very good batting percentage.

EREZ: It's not, no. It's definitely a bad, bad start...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: What does that tell you? Is it telling you that people are having trouble getting in?

EREZ: It tells me that website is just starting off. People have to get familiarized with it. It's very early on.

And they did do a pretty bad job at it.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: So, then I got to be clear here.

EREZ: Yes.

CAVUTO: This sounds like you would try to spruce up a turkey. Do you just kill the turkey and start with a new one? Start from scratch? What would you do?

MAGID: I would kill the turkey in this case.

You build the foundation of a building to make the building stable. The foundations here are wrong. It needs to be revisited, the load balancing, the servers, the capacity, the user interface. You have to go through the focus groups and see what went wrong.

And just before they launched this website, a proper QA process was not done. You can see it in the flow. I went to the website twice about two weeks ago. The response time for the load page, the first one, to sign up for the application was about six or seven seconds.

They fixed it a little bit. It's about four or five seconds. But you need more than that. Just putting a phone number for someone to call is not the answer.

CAVUTO: To start from new...

EREZ: Yes.

CAVUTO: ... would take how long?

EREZ: To do it properly? Many, many months, if not more. It's not something that can be done just, you know, in a few weeks.

CAVUTO: OK. You both have made me very ill.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: And this is the health care law we're talking about.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Well, guys, thank you very, very much.

Mr. President, this is free advice to you. These guys are available. We have their phone numbers. Maybe you should have contacted them at the beginning, but my goodness.

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