At a Thursday House hearing, contractors criticized the Obama administration for not giving them enough time to test the HealthCare.gov website. Republicans traced the site’s colossal debacle to Obamacare’s inherent flaws.
And Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., condemned the hearing itself as “a cynical Republican effort to delay, defund or repeal the Affordable Care Act” — and “a monkey court.” (Is that anything like a kangaroo court?)
But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius shed no light on the charges, countercharges, excuses, insults and evasions that dominated the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the ongoing mess of that Obamacare site for insurance exchanges since its Oct. 1 “rollout.”
The embattled HHS boss declined the panel’s invitation to testify at Thursday’s hearing. She did finally, after “negotiations” earlier this week, agree to show up before the committee next Wednesday.
And the White House has now agreed to postpone the “individual mandate.” Under the law, Americans without health insurance were supposed to either purchase it by Jan. 1, 2014, or pay a fine. Under pressure from not just Republicans but Democrats, the administration has extended that deadline until March 31.
A delay seems only fair to those required by the law to buy insurance through a website that’s still got — in the administration’s understated term for it — “glitches.”
And back in July, the administration gave businesses with 50 or more employees a full-year delay — until Jan. 1, 2015 — to meet the law’s demand that they provide insurance for those workers.
So when is this law, signed by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010, finally going to take full effect?
While pitching the massive, bewildering legislation, the president repeatedly reassured Americans that if they liked their insurance plans and doctors they could keep them, and that the law would even lower insurance premiums. That glaring failure to keep those promises, along with that thoroughly botched website, has validated warnings about turning our nation’s health care system over to the federal government.
That doesn’t mean those website contractors are without blame. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., pointed out Thursday that at previous hearings, contractors from those companies had “looked us in the eye and assured us repeatedly that everything was on track, except that it wasn’t.”
But Rep. Upton added that “this is more than a website problem” — and fairly complained that the Obama administration “appears allergic to transparency and continues to withhold enrollment figures” for the insurance exchanges.
And the real Obamacare price clearly isn’t right for the many Americans now being stunned by how high the insurance rates are on both the federal and state exchanges — when they can finally navigate to those bottom lines.
As assorted news outlets reported over the last few days, the Obamacare exchange site’s estimates for anyone 49 and under are based on the cost for a 27-year-old. For anyone 50 and older, they are based on a 50-year-old. So it’s no surprise that the actual costs for those much older than those ages are much higher than the estimates.
As for the notion that Republicans are causing Obamacare’s problems, keep in mind that the legislation passed in both the House and Senate without a single vote from a GOP lawmaker — and with 34 House Democrats voting against it.
Yes, it was a fool’s errand for the Republican House to trigger the 16-day partial federal shutdown starting Oct. 1 in a futile effort to “defund” Obamacare.
But now that the shutdown and debt-ceiling showdowns are 10 days behind us, Americans are getting a much closer look at the folly of the Affordable Care Act.
And the increasingly instructive spectacle shows that this is an unaffordable, unwise — and unmanageable — law.