Republican lawmakers gleefully pounced on the weak Obamacare enrollment report released today.
“You could fit everyone who signed up for Obamacare in the first month into Neyland Stadium – and still have room for the ‘Pride of the Southland’ marching band,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), ranking member on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee. “That’s bad news for the 5 million Americans who’ve had their policies canceled by Obamacare. This demands that the president put his promise into law and allow Americans to keep the health care plans they have.”
The University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium held its largest crowd of 109,061 on Sept. 18, 2004, for the game against Florida. Total enrollment, from the flailing website and other sources, from launch through Nov. 2 was reported to be 106,185.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the report proved Obamacare is “a rolling calamity that must be scrapped.”
“The president says he is sorry but has taken no action to right his wrong. Millions of Americans are being told their health coverage is canceled at the same time that they are shut out of the government website. And even if they do manage to navigate the system, many are being rewarded with sticker shock, not the lower prices the president promised,” Boehner said.
On the Senate floor, John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) summed up: “They came, they saw, they didn’t buy it.”
“So far the Obamacare exchanges have only succeeded at crashing people’s computers or lightening their wallets,” he added.
“Fewer than 800 Missourians have successfully signed up for the president’s health care plan while millions of Americans are being forced to lose their current coverage. That’s appalling, and it simply confirms what we already knew: ObamaCare is a train wreck,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).
“The abysmal ObamaCare enrollment numbers are another early warning sign that this legislation is deeply flawed and ultimately cannot be fixed. Only full repeal and replacement can begin undoing the damage this law has done to people who have lost their health plans and doctors, and are paying higher out of pocket costs,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “There is a better way to help people obtain high quality health care and control costs, but ObamaCare is not it.”
Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) noted that “at the current pace, this law will not be financially sustainable for 6 years according to projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).”
“Meanwhile, my office is receiving letters from families across North Carolina telling us that their health insurance plans are being cancelled and their premiums are going through the roof,” she added.
“The faulty website is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s not technical glitches that will doom this system, it is the fact that the President’s health care law forces people to buy overpriced health plans they don’t want, hikes taxes, and puts important, personal health care decisions in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats instead of patients and their doctors,” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). “The whole law is unworkable.”
On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) introduced legislation to extend the enrollment period by two months.
Democrats co-sponsoring the bill are Dianne Feinstein of California, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Udall of Colorado and Jeff Merkley of Oregon.
“It’s not fair to penalize people for not having health insurance because of a broken website,” Shaheen said. “People need adequate time to consider their available options and sign up for health insurance and the ongoing technical issues aren’t allowing that. As ongoing problems with HealthCare.gov cut into that time frame and are hindering the enrollment process, giving people more time to sign up is a matter of common sense.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the floor today that President Obama and Senate Dems need to support the bill to let Americans keep their healthcare plans that’s expected to pass the House on Friday.
“This doesn’t have to be a partisan battle. These cancellations haven’t discriminated based on party. The people out there who are frustrated and upset at losing their health care plans are Democrats and Republicans. The president can help all of them by backing the bill the House is expected to pass Friday,” McConnell said.
“I think that’s basically what Bill Clinton was suggesting yesterday when he said the president should honor the commitment the government made to these folks, even if it means changing the law. I’ve had a lot of disagreements with Bill Clinton over the years. But at key moments he was willing to cross party lines. And I think here’s a moment where the American people are expecting President Obama to do the same. Allowing Americans to keep their health plans is a promise Democrats made over, and over, and over again.”
No immediate comment from the White House; just an announcement that Obama signed a bill mandating emergency epinephrine shots be kept in supply at schools.