Sebelius's Obamacare Tech Nightmare
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee October 30 to answer questions about the Obamacare rollout that is beset with problems and about promises made that now appear to be invalid.
The implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is known informally as Obamacare, has seen a litany of epic failures and the violation of guarantees made by Democrats and President Barack Obama. These failures include technological problems which have prevented people from enrolling in insurance plans via the website designed for this purpose. There are also concerns about security breaches of the website. There were promises, emphatically made by Obama, that Americans can continue to keep their current insurance if they choose to do so - that have been revealed to be untrue. There were guarantees by Obama and other Democrats, stated prior to the enactment of the ACA, that there would be no increases in taxes to fund it - but this too turned out to be untrue.
All of which causes the American public to question the credibility of the Obama administration. These credibility issues have been magnified by contradictory statements by the contractors who were involved in developing the website and the HHS; by Sebelius's inability to answer questions about the ACA posed by comedian Jon Stewart when she appeared on his political satire television show; and by various inconsistent statements by administrations officials and spokespeople.
During her testimony Wednesday, Sebelius held herself accountable for the website failures - although, notably, without any consequences. But as the questioning began, it was plain that the committee was divided along partisan lines.
One Democrat, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), after skewering Republicans, tried to learn if the contractors would receive any penalty for the website failure. Sebelius said they would not be paid for substandard work.
Another Democrat, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) also blamed the civilian contractors for the website problems. She claimed they first said the website would be ready on time. But after the rollout they denied it was ready when testifying before congress.
So Democrats spent their time trying to defend the ACA and discredit Republicans.
They denied people were losing their insurance coverage. Democrats claimed the failures of the website were unimportant. They demonized insurance companies and Republicans as the real reason for any problems with the ACA.
The Republicans, for their part, did little to solve the problem. They seemed incapable of crafting a unified consistent theme or looking for a solution. Only a few were able to address the issues of cancelled coverage - despite promises to the contrary, website problems, security concerns - none addressed the tax issue.
For example, Oregon Rep. Walden referred to the Washington Post 's awarding of "four Pinocchios" to President Obama's promise that people would be able to keep their current insurance. The Post noted that Obama's statements "were sweeping and unequivocal and made both before and after the bill became law." But now Obama "cites technicalities to avoid admitting that he went too far in his repeated pledge, which, after all, is one of the most famous statements of his presidency."