The woman whose smiling face adorned the HealthCare.gov website in the first days after its launch has stepped forward to tearfully address those who she says cyberbullied her as they took potshots at the Obama administration's troubled online health exchange.
"They have nothing else to do but hide behind the computer. They're cyberbullying," the mystery woman said Wednesday on ABC News' Good Morning America.
Only willing to let ABC refer to her as "Adriana," she said that "I'm here to stand up for myself and to defend myself. ... I didn't design the website. I didn't make it fail."
Adriana said she is from Colombia, is a mother and wife who lives in Maryland and that, ABC writes, "though she is eligible for healthcare through the [Affordable Care Act] ... she hasn't signed up for it, and is neither in favor nor against it." Her husband and 21-month-old son are U.S. citizens, and Adriana said she is applying for citizenship.
Good Morning America writes that:
"The saga of the photo started innocuously enough. Seeking free family photographs, Adriana emailed a contact at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency responsible for the Affordable Care Act's rollout, about having photos of her and her family taken in exchange for allowing the photos to be used to market the new health care law. She was never paid."
But, as the show says, after the website's ill-fated launch, Adriana was "dubbed the 'enigmatic Mona Lisa of health care,' her face was soon mocked, Photoshoped, altered. She became the subject of late-night jokes, partisan hatred and intense speculation."
USA Today wrote in late October that the "smiling brunette prominently featured on the top of Healthcare.gov has become a mysterious celebrity — dubbed 'Obamacare girl' — and is the focus of jokes about the issues with the new health care registration system. ... Her smiling face has been drawn on with a monocle, mustache and top hat, she's been asked out on dates and pitied."
The Onion weighed in with a panicked-looking version of the mystery lady.