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WH Adviser Won't Answer When Obamacare Site Will Be Fixed, Unsure About Firings

JAKE TAPPER: December 15th is the date you need to be signed up, if you want to have insurance starting on January 1st. March is the date you need to have been signed up, gotten insurance, if you don't want to pay the penalty.

Can you promise that the Web site will be fully functioning by either of those dates, December 15th or the March 2014 date?

DAVID SIMAS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY SENIOR ADVISOR: So, Jake, besides the improvements in the Web site that are going to continue throughout October into November, an important thing also to remember is that there are multiple pathways for folks that didn't exist before. The president mentioned one today in terms of the 1-800-318-2596 number. There's a new tool on the Web site that allows you to find out where the local assisters and navigators are in your community and for those individuals who simply want to download the three-page application, not 35 pages as was the industry standard, they can do that.

So, besides an improving Web site, 1-800 number that people have access to, folks on the ground who will meet the demand and the ability for people to do it on their own, we'll be ready.

TAPPER: Right. We obviously want people to get health insurance and we obviously want people to be able to do it so they don't have to pay the fine, which is why I let you do what President Obama did earlier and give the public service announcement about other ways.

But you didn't answer my question. Will the Web site be up and running, can you promise, by December 15th or by the March deadline, either one of those dates, yes or no? Can you promise?

SIMAS: So, Jake, yes, between the Web site --

TAPPER: Yes?

SIMAS: -- and all of the other ways that people have to sign up --

TAPPER: That wasn't really the question.

SIMAS: Well, but here's the reality. Any American over the course of the next six months who either doesn't have insurance or is on the individual market, between a Web site service that prior to October 1st that didn't exist, a 1-800 number prior to October 1st that didn't exist --

TAPPER: OK.

SIMAS: -- navigators and the ability to do it on their own, they can get insurance and will.

TAPPER: Last question, sir. Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs spoke recently about all the problems with the Web site. Let's hear from him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GIBBS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I hope they're working day and night to get this done. When they get it fixed, I hope they fire some people that were in charge. This is excruciatingly embarrassing for the White House and for the health -- Department of Health and Human Services.

(ENJD VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That's Robert Gibbs. So should someone get fired? He hopes someone will.

SIMAS: So, Jake, the first thing that Robert said was I hope people are working 24/7. They are working 24/7 and will continue.

TAPPER: Right.

SIMAS: Our main focus at this point is to make sure that it works and it works flawlessly for folks.

TAPPER: But Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary, says I hope people are fired. Do you think anyone should deserve to lose their job over this, or even their contract, if it was a contractor's problem?

SIMAS: Jake, at this point, the sole focus needs to be and should be, and I think the American people would agree, fix what's broken. Throw all your resources into making sure that people who need insurance, get insurance and then do your post action after you fix what you need to fix.

TAPPER: But, David, you won't even say whether or not it will be fixed by March.

SIMAS: Jake, I did. I said that if there's any --

TAPPER: No, you said the phone call -- the phone service will be working.

SIMAS: Jake, I said that the main purpose of the Affordable Care Act is not a Web site. It's to make sure that any American who is either uninsured or in the individual market has options to get insurance. That will happen. That's our sole focus and that's what we're going to do.

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