President Barack Obama considered scrapping the entire Obamacare website just 16 days after its botched rollout on Oct. 1, a top aide says.

“Can it be patched and improved to work, or does it need to be scrapped to start over?” the president asked on Oct. 17, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough tells Time magazine.

“He wanted to know if this thing is salvageable,” McDonough said.

The conversation happened on the day the federal government returned to work after the 16-day government shutdown.

McDonough and the president had been meeting almost daily since the website’s Oct. 1 launch, along with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and White House health reform policy director Jeanne Lambrew to discuss how to move forward.

Despite Obama’s doubts about the website, days later he was touting the benefits of the marketplace, though his rhetoric shifted away from a focus on