Obamacare is running a temperature.
It’s not a runaway fever at this point, but the administration is looking for ways to cool it down.
And is “surge” really the term the White House wanted to embrace in the recomitment to the health-care exchanges that aren’t running so well?
Now that attention has turned from Republican attempts to defund or delay the president’s signature health-care program, the stumbling start-up of the Internet portal to the insurance changes that opened on Oct. 1 as the federal government was partially shutting down has given critics a new point of attack.
And the White House is fighting back.
In the Rose Garden today, the platform for any serious political fight, President Barack Obama plans to address the problems surrounding Healthcare.gov, the Web-site opened to enroll people seeking insurance under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. At 11:25 am, Obama will bring small business owners, pharmacists and consumers “who have either benefited from the health care law already or are helping consumers learn about what the law means for them ” as well as people who have applied for or enrolled in coverage under the new marketplaces created by the law. The government is having to run these exchanges for 36 states that haven’t started their own under the law.
The truth is, many people already enrolled earlier this year in an Obamacare plan for people with existing conditions, and benefits such as extended coverage for children on their parents’ plan have been in place for some time. Yet the new exchanges represent the core of a plan that is intended to offer health insurance for tens of millions of Americans who lack it, and they are not going well.
House Republicans are trying to call Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius onto the carpet, demanding that she testify at a committee hearing on Thursday, as Republicans pivot from attempts to block the program to a spotlight on how the plan could be falling under its own weight.
The administration, for its part, is promising a “tech surge” of “the best and brightest” in the computer business the get the temperature of the exchanges down to normal.
As Bloomberg’s Alex Wayne reports today, “If a `tech surge’ announced yesterday by the administration can’t turn things around quickly, the six-month enrollment period that ends March 31 may have to be extended, independent consultants and analysts said — an idea dismissed as premature by backers of the health-care system overhaul. Republicans, meanwhile, are calling for firings over the delays.”
“Somebody ought to be accountable for this mess, and if the president isn’t going to resign, it’s up to him to figure out who should,” Sen.Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, said in an e-mail from a spokeswoman.