Call it the Obamacare website fiasco, with the focus Wednesday on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after she told CNN that President Barack Obama knew nothing of the problem before it became evident starting on October 1.
Sebelius headed to the White House for an afternoon meeting with insurance industry executives, then was scheduled to leave town to participate with other officials in what the administration calls a "grass-roots effort" to boost enrollment in Obama's signature health care reform system.
Republican opponents seeking to undermine the 2010 Affordable Care Act call for Sebelius to be fired for the website problems in the program overseen by her department.
They also want to delay the deadline for people to obtain health coverage under the law or face a fine, with some congressional Democrats joining that call.
Here are the latest developments:
Insurance CEOs meet with officials
The CEOs of several major insurance companies -- including the heads of Aetna, WellPoint and Humana -- met Wednesday with top U.S. officials about problems with the Obamacare website's rollout.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius led "a very productive discussion" that ended with an agreement that technical groups from insurers will work directly with government experts to address the issues, said a source in the room.
"The reality is that we have so much expertise they haven't tapped into enough," said the source. "These are people who have built these systems."
A well-placed industry insider told CNN that top health insurers were well aware of problems with the website's application process ahead of its October 1 launch, yet people involved in its creation downplayed the flaws.
"It's clear the folks working on this, in the (Obama) administration, gave a far rosier picture to people in the White House," the insider said. "No one wanted to go to the White House and say to the President that your significant legislative achievement may not go well."
The troubles include the difficulties that many people are having setting up accounts, as well as the fact that enrollment files being received by insurers are sometimes incomplete, have erroneous information or arrive in duplicate.
At the same time, some people have managed to successfully enroll, though the insider couldn't put an exact count on how many.
Fixing the problems
At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney gave reporters the most detailed account yet of steps being taken to address the website problems that have included long delays, difficulties signing in and incorrect information getting relayed to insurance companies.
"We are making fixes to the existing system," Carney said, noting that developers were increasing the bandwidth and "improving site architecture" to deal with the volume of visitors to HealthCare.gov.
"We're substituting in hardware to make changes that make it more optimized," Carney added. "And we're improving database queries."
More tests are coming "now that we know what we're dealing with in terms of volume," he said.
Carney also said the Department of Health and Human Services will hold daily briefings, starting Thursday, to provide updates on progress being made to improve the website, one of four ways for people to enroll in the insurance exchanges set up under Obamacare. The others are by phone, in person at sites set up across the country, and by mail.
Signing up the uninsured
Sebelius and other Cabinet secretaries as well as White House officials will head to cities across the country to encourage uninsured people to enroll in the new system.
"We are planning to deploy White House officials and Cabinet secretaries to the 10 cities across the country with the highest rates of uninsured Americans to do enrollment events and other grass-roots activities," an administration official said. "These cities and metropolitan areas include Dallas, Houston, Miami, Atlanta, Phoenix/Tucson, North Jersey, Tampa, Orlando, Detroit and San Antonio."
Exclusive CNN interview
In the interview Tuesday with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Sebelius said Obama didn't hear that there might be problems with the sign-up portal for new exchanges under the health care law until it went live on October 1.
The site was supposed to make it simple for people to search and sign up for new health care policies, but instead it has been clunky and, at times, inoperable.