Lawmakers Strike at Obamacare's Early Weaknesses
"Furthermore, the Obama Administration has claimed over and over again that they did not have these enrollment numbers, which would mean that they have willfully misled Congress and the American people," Ellmers added. "For months, HHS, IRS, CMS and all other elements of the federal bureaucracy have promised in hearings, interviews and testimony that they were certain that the massive program would be ready on Oct. 1. Yet here we are, witnessing failure each and every day since it was launched. This law was never ready for primetime and never will be."
On the Senate floor Wednesday, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) noted that there are “there are over 5,000 websites generating more traffic than healthcare.gov."
“So, how many people were able to successfully enroll in the health care exchanges on the first day?" Barrasso said. “We have no idea. The administration doesn’t want to talk about it. First they said they were ‘thrilled’ that so many people were checking out the website."
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on Sunday that 4.7 million people had visited the site.
“Well, if they’re willing to tell us how many people had visited the website, why won’t they tell us how many people actually got coverage?" Barrasso continued. “The administration won’t provide any data to back up its claims until, they say, at least November. You’ve got to remember California claimed five million people visited the website for its own state exchange on the first day. It later had to back up and say, nope, we’re sorry, that wasn’t true. It turns out it only had about 645,000 visitors. Less than a million—not the five million that they claimed."
Striking at Obamacare from another angle, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) sent a letter to the Office of Personnel Management on Wednesday requesting all correspondence they had with the administration, members of Congress and their staffs related to the final Obamacare exemption status.
“This ‘fix’ was one of many delayed regulations, which leads me to believe that there was much debate between the White House and Congress over OPM’s authority to bend the rules and help Members and congressional staff to ultimately retain their very generous taxpayer funded subsidies,” Vitter wrote. “Self-dealing special treatment to avoid the consequences of a law that Congress itself passed is precisely why the American people do not trust Washington.”
Vitter has been pushing an amendment to require that all members of Congress, the president, vice president, and all political appointees in the administration must purchase their health insurance through the Obamacare exchange without the help of taxpayer-funded subsidies. Congressional staff would be prohibited from receiving any contribution greater than what they would receive if they worked outside of Congress.
Alexander's office has been saving the best comments posted on healthcare.gov from users, including: “What an exercise in complete stupidity. I've spent days trying to just log on. I go from one ‘downstream error’ screen to another ‘oops, we're sorry’ screen.”
The senator noted that even with three years to prepare, the administration thought it could get away with a bug-ridden system because people would want the product so much they just wouldn't mind.
He also circulated an InformationWeek article detailing five "red flag" Obamacare site security warnings: all-access request for other sites, clickjacking threat, cookie theft, fake site, and scam psychology. "Given the high profile of healthcare.gov and other portals, as well as the sensitive information they handle, it wouldn't be surprising if identity thieves, at least, do begin probing healthcare.gov and other sites weaknesses," the article states.
"I've been warning that a train wreck is coming with this law, but the truth is that no train wreck has ever had this many warning signs," Alexander said. "The avalanche of last-minute delays should make every American anxious about the quality of the health care they'll be able to purchase in October and the security of the information they'll have to provide—proving again that this law must be repealed so that we can pass step-by-step reforms that transform the health care delivery system by putting patients in charge, giving them more choices, and reducing the cost of health care so that more people can afford it."