|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 10.21.13
Monday, October 21, 2013 ‚Äď
Implementation of Obamacare is ‚Äúfabulous??‚ÄĚ
October 1 was the day that the website for Obamacare launched, and Americans were able to try and research or sign up for health care coverage through the law‚Äôs exchanges.
Leading up to the website‚Äôs launch (and despite warnings of significant problems and an impending train wreck)‚Ä¶
- Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, known for having said that Congress had ‚Äúto pass the bill so you can find out what's in it,‚ÄĚ said on June 26 that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius‚Äô ‚Äúimplementation of [Obamacare] is fabulous.‚ÄĚ
- In a July 28 television interview, Secretary Sebelius herself said, ‚Äúwe are on track to flip the switch on October 1 and say to people ‚Äėcome on and sign up.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
- Testifying on August 1 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on which I sit, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner also insisted that the website was not in trouble, saying ‚ÄúSixty days from now is the beginning of open enrollment when Americans will be able to compare and enroll in affordable health care coverage, and that implementation is on track.‚ÄĚ
- And as recently as September 19, a mere 11 days before implementation of the exchanges, Gary Cohen, the federal official in charge of the exchanges, testified under oath before the Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations while I was there, that, ‚Äúconsumers will be able to go online, they will be able to get a determination of what tax subsidies they are eligible for, they‚Äôll be able to look at the plans that are available where they live, they will be able to see the premium next of subsidy that they would have to pay, and they will be able to choose a plan and get enrolled in coverage beginning October 1.‚ÄĚ
The American taxpayer has spent more than $400 million on the exchange system, but when October 1 rolled around more than three years after Obamacare was signed into law, Americans across the country were not met with the ‚Äúfabulous‚ÄĚ experience promised them. The exchanges were not on track. Countless Americans were unable to complete enrollment tasks. Because Obamacare eliminates the current federal health policy for Members of Congress and congressional staff, my wife has attempted to log into the system. She experienced problems similar to those being reported by other Americans, problems including error messages and difficulty in creating accounts. Many problems remain unresolved today, nearly three weeks after the website launched.
Furthermore, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that, ‚ÄúInsurers say the federal health-care marketplace is generating flawed data that is straining their ability to handle even the trickle of enrollees who have gotten through so far, in a sign that technological problems extend further than the website traffic and software issues already identified. Emerging errors include duplicate enrollments, spouses reported as children, missing data fields and suspect eligibility determinations‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ
On October 7, Secretary Sebelius appeared on New York‚Äôs The Daily Show ‚Äď a late night satirical television show often covering government and politics ‚Äď where she dodged the usually light-hearted host‚Äôs tough questions about Obamacare.
The American people deserve answers as to what has been happening with Obamacare‚Äôs implementation. On Thursday, October 24, my colleagues and I on the Energy and Commerce Committee are holding a hearing to look into the bungled launch of Obamacare. We have invited Secretary Sebelius to testify at this hearing but she is refusing to appear, choosing instead to attend the Kennedy Forum Gala in Boston the day before the hearing. However, it is important to note that there are flights that would return to the Capitol in time for the Secretary to attend our hearing.
Secretary Sebelius‚Äô task of fixing the Obamacare website may be impossible, but she should be working overtime to try. It ought to be her first priority, since it is three weeks since it was launched. She has time to attend galas and appear on The Daily Show, but she doesn‚Äôt have time to do her duty and answer congressional questions now?
The rollout of Obamacare exchanges has not been fabulous. Now, the same people that told you the exchanges would be fabulous and ready on October 1 will be telling you that the entire program will be fabulous and ready for full implementation on January 1. With less than 70 days to go and having heard the same rhetoric before the rollout of the exchanges, I suspect full implementation will not be fabulous either.
As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office by email, please visit my website at ###