A Senate Committee is the Latest to Attack Kathleen Sebelius Over ACA



The other day I found myself in a Norman Rockwellian setting of 3 rabid Teapublican peers and a single progressive (‘er, me!) in the 50’s-furnished office of a one-man auto repair operation. The most verbose gent, probably about 70, seemed quite expert on the question of what they all termed “Obamacare.”

“Do you know how many people have actually signed up for Obamacare?” None of us did since I don’t believe the government is releasing official numbers as yet. Undeterred by facts, the old gent said “TWO-HUNDRED.” I bit my lip and kept quiet. Now I can talk, tucked away behind my gentleman farmer hedgerow. First of all, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) charged with overseeing such stats, estimates that there have been some 700,000 applications submitted through either federal or state websites. Somewhat more than 200 were bound to go through.

Popular website, the Daily Kos, has established its own more limited database of signups for Affordable Health Care. Their numbers are fairly current (mid-October) and total 360,000. There are other sites and individuals keeping count as well.

Mr. “Know everything about Obamacare” then opined that the law was “horrible for young people.” Again, based I’m sure on comments from the Fox loofah sponge perv or the ‘sucking up illegal prescription drugs without consequences’ talk radio guy. Go to this site. It will tell you (and my pal) everything there is to know about ACA and our young people.

Teapublicans are continuing to make hay on the public’s woeful lack of knowledge of a law that’s now been around for about 3 ½ years. The latest target is the federal website designed to sign people up for individual state’s Health Insurance Exchange Marketplace. I’ve already traversed this territory, but I’m going to touch on it again after recent repeated attacks on Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius.

The latest inquisition, and anything anti-Obama is the religion of the Teapublicans, sprouted up from the Senate Finance Committee. Ranking committee Teapublican, Orrin Hatch, now in his sixth term after initially being elected to the Senate by bitching about his incumbent opponent sticking around for three terms, still wants 174,000 of your taxpayer dollars as he nears 80.

Like his fellow Teapublican committee members, Hatch treated the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius like a career criminal after insisting “We’re not in it to just give you a rough time.” Rough time? Defendants at Nuremberg were accorded more respect. The real ass in the proceedings was a Texan (surprise, surprise), Senator John Cornyn, trying to outdo fellow state homie, Ted Cruz, largely due to a possible Teapublican primary challenge from somebody who might be even nuttier than he is.

Cronyn, with Sebelius in her accustomed proxy position as buffer for the president, read a page of the White House website; “If you like your plan, you can keep it and don’t have to change a thing due to the health care law.” Like a hyped-up Perry Mason, Cronyn issued a withering statement, “Well, we know that lying to Congress is a crime, but unfortunately lying to the American people is not.” He went on to demand a true or false answer from the Secretary as to the veracity of the Obama pledge.

She tried to respond. “Sir, I think the statement is that…” Cornyn cut her off because his mother apparently never taught him how to behave around women. He arrogantly demanded an answer “Is it true or is it false, Madam Secretary? Sebelius responded as best she could, telling Cornyn that a vast majority of people insured through their jobs would keep their insurance as would most of the 11 million insured in the individual market. Others will have to choose a new plan if they have a plan that will no longer get medically underwritten…Cornyn interrupted again, but here’s what she was trying to tell him and the committee.

When Obama made his promise, he had no idea that companies would opt out. They helped write ACA after all. They’ll be back. The big boys are using duress to try to sweeten the legislation even more in their favor. It’s the insurance industry that broke the promise, not the president.

That’s the long and the short of it. Obama didn’t “lie” as Cornyn and his Teapublican colleagues know full well. He was blind-sided by the new strategy of certain insurers that broke their promises to him. Period. Explanation point! End of discussion. Cronyn, not quite having made a big enough fool of himself, added that “I will just ask that the record…note that you have refused to answer my question whether it’s true or false.

My question is, “Are there really that many uninformed and, forgive me, factually ignorant voters in Texas to elect people like Cornyn?”

Another committee member, South Dakota Teapublican, John Thune, wanted to know if it violated “Obama’s promise that so many plans were cancelled for falling short of the law’s coverage requirements. Excuse me, but the companies referenced, SELF-cancelled.

Some of the companies that were charged with setting up the HealthCare.gov site have also been questioned by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. With kid gloves I might say. They laid all the blame on the administration and HHS, claiming last minute changes mucked up the works. They just couldn’t handle them. For lead contractor, GCI Federal’s 200 million bucks, you’re paying this ‘private contractor’ to handle every problem that comes along. A huge undertaking with no last-minute problems? NEVER HAPPENS! EVER! Apparently the company knew things were amiss when their end-to-end test crashed two weeks prior to the opening date. How much warning do you need? Their preparation timing was obviously waaay off.

Amateurish underestimations of software development, design and implementation considerations are GCI’s (and supporting technology contractor’s) fault, not HHS; not the presidents. Neither are experts. GCI purports to be. If this company knew the site wasn’t ready, it was their contractual responsibility to make that known to the president who could have made appropriate date adjustments before signing off on a project that was not yet user-friendly, thanks to private contractors, on the date advertised.

At least one company head admitted before the committee that the core cause was that the site was unprepared for the unexpected volume that “overwhelmed” the system from the start. That’s what terrifies Teapublicans. ACA will be an issue in the upcoming ’14 and ’16 elections all right; just not as they had envisioned.

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