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Nolan: Poor health insurance website rollout should lead to firings

WASHINGTON — Nolan told the AP, “I think the president needs to man up, find out who was responsible, and fire them.”

Rep. Rick Nolan

WASHINGTON — Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan was dishing out some tough talk after a Wednesday conference meeting over the poor Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange rollout this month.

Democrats heard from administration officials on the technical difficulties that have left many would-be insurance shoppers unable to search for or buy plans on the federal exchange website healthcare.gov. President Obama appointed an administration official to tackle the problems earlier this week as congressional Republicans, freed from the drama of a government shutdown, began sharpening their rhetoric on the health care overhaul law.

After the Democrats’ meeting, Nolan told the Associated Press that Obama “needs to man up, find out who was responsible, and fire them.”

He expanded on the matter in an interview with MinnPost later Wednesday.

“What they keep saying is there are glitches,” he said. “Their response is, ‘Well yeah, we know there are problems and we’re working on them and we’re going to get them fixed as they come up.’ Well, when are you going to get them fixed? ‘Well, we’re working on them.’ And what are the problems? ‘Well, we’re working on them’ …

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“There are people in this country who have been putting together websites, national websites, and putting them together successfully for quite a number of years now,” he said. “Unfortunately none of them apparently were working on this website. I support the Affordable Care Act, it does a lot of good for a lot of people. They’ve done a lot of damage to the brand and to the Act.”

Republicans have slammed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for the website’s troubles.  She declined to testify on the matter before a congressional committee this week — she’ll do so on Oct. 30 insteadand a handful of Republicans have said she should resign because of the problems.

Nolan didn’t say who he wanted fired, but that someone would have to pay for the website’s problems.

“The president and his chief of staff, they know who is the point person and who is in charge, and I don’t know that,” he said. “Whoever that was, and whoever was reporting to them and giving the president bad information, I think should be dismissed and I think he should put a new team in there.”

 Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry