New Alexander Bill to Require Weekly Obamacare Status Updates on Enrollment, Problems
The ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is planning on introducing a bill that will require the Obama administration to deliver weekly updates to Congress, state governments and the public on the status of the flailing Obamacare exchanges.
Sen. Lamar Alexander's (R-Tenn.) bill would required information about Obamacare enrollment, efforts to resolve the site’s technological problems, and information about organizations contracted as navigators.
“As millions of Americans have sat frustrated at their computers and on their phones, wasting hours trying to fulfill the Obamacare mandate and enroll in the exchanges, the administration has refused to provide critical information about what’s going wrong, or has dribbled out news through anonymous statements to reporters," Alexander said. "This bill will require the administration to be honest and transparent with the public, governors overseeing state exchanges, state consumer protection regulators, and decision-makers in Congress. No more hiding the damage of the train wreck—Americans are on this train.”
Administration officials have to this point refused to give any figures from the program that launched Oct. 1, likely nervous that they're not on track to meet the Congressional Budget Office's estimate of 7 million people signing up on the healthcare exchange in the first six months.
President Obama has vowed to tackle tech problems on the website while repeating that his healthcare program is "not just a website" and trying to steer people to phone lines (which have also crashed) and in-person signups to meet enrollment goals.
Alexander's bill would require weekly reports about the 36 federally run exchanges, including the number of site visitors and the number who have successfully enrolled, their ZIP code, and the level of coverage they’ve obtained.
“This law is about as clear as mud, and instead of helping Americans understand their new obligations, the Obama administration has been burying important changes—not announcing them boldly as you’d expect an administration that’s proud of its new health care law to do," the senator recently said. "Americans deserve better from the officials who are so committed to implementing this train wreck of a law.”
Another Senate bill introduced last weeks by Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) would fix the healthcare's law several different definitions of “Indian,” which have led to conflicting interpretations of eligibility for benefits and requirements for coverage.
“I’ve said many times that the Affordable Care Act has flaws that need to be addressed and this is just one more way we can improve the law and ensure even more Alaskans have access to quality medical care,” said Begich. “I have heard from Alaska Tribal Health organizations for months about the urgent need to introduce legislation that will serve as a technical fix within the ACA to broaden the definition of Indian as applied to Alaska Natives. I see this bill as part of our duty to ensure that our tribes and tribal health organizations can best serve and offer health care to all of those who are intended to benefit from the Affordable Care Act, and as part of the federal government’s trust responsibility to the First Peoples of this country.”
The proposed legislation will change the definition of Indian within the Affordable Care Act to include all Alaska natives and native Hawaiians.
The Senate is back in session on Monday.
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