November 22, 2013

CNBC – Obamacare site tip of the iceberg: Ex-Medtronic CEO

“This is the Titanic.” That’s how former Medtronic Chairman and CEO Bill George described Obamacare.

“It’s just at the iceberg and everyone is looking at the tip:,” George told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday. “It’s not going to be solved by the end of the month,” when the Obama administration has promised to have the troubled website working smoothly. Government officials and outside contractors have been rolling out improvements overnight for weeks.

At an Obamacare event in Florida, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday she’s confident that the government-run website is on the right track. She encouraged users who previously had problems to return—promising them a better experience already.

(Read moreSenior officialdrops Obamacare bombshell)

“You cannot solve a management problem with politics,” said George, a professor of management at Harvard Business School. “Sebelius has done her time. … Let’s bring in the pros,” people with private sector experience, he said.

Beyond the website, George said, “Look at this fiasco we have right now, we’re trying to take people’s insurance plans away; now we’re giving them back.” President Barack Obama acted “too late on the insurance plans.”

Obamacare has to be fixed, he continued. “You’re not going to repeal it. It’s not going to be repealed because by 2017 this thing is going to be locked.”

(Read moreObamacare may need bailout: Ex-HHS head)

One of the ways George said to fix the law is to give people an incentive for living healthier lives. Until then, he said, “We’re going to have a huge snowplow effect of costs. It will not happen in this president’s term. It will happen in the next president’s term.”

As for the tax on medical device makers, like Medtronic, to help pay for Obamacare, George called it a punishment for the industry’s lack of support for the health-care law.