President, Sebelius Dismiss Concerns About ACA
(Washington, DC) – This afternoon President Obama spoke about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (also called the ACA or Obamacare) in a speech in Boston. Despite press reports about cancelled insurance policies for millions of Americans, sticker shock for people shopping for new policies, and the continued failure of Healthcare.gov, the President stood by many of the promises he made about the law. The speech came shortly after Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. As the Cabinet-level official chiefly responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Secretary Sebelius had the opportunity to address the concerns shared by millions of Americans about the serious problems with the law so far.
Unfortunately, the assurances from the President and the Secretary do little to resolve the reports about problems with the ACA. During her appearance, the Secretary acknowledged problems with data security, but refused to take down the site in order to conduct proper testing. While she apologized for the rollout of the ACA – which she appropriately called a "debacle" – she first attempted to blame the contractors hired by the Administration for the failures of Healthcare.gov. When pressed as to whether or not the President was ultimately accountable, she answered "whatever." Sebelius also repeatedly stated it would be illegal for her to participate in Obamacare, which reports say is not true. She insisted that Healthcare.gov has never crashed. And she was unable to alleviate concerns that the millions of Americans who stand to lose their insurance due to the ACA – against the President's repeated promises – will be able to find affordable care without a lapse. It is not clear that implementation is going any better at the state level, as the State of Oregon today, for example, reported that not a single resident has enrolled in the ACA exchanges.
Daniel Garza, Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative released the following statement:
"Secretary Sebelius was invited to testify today to ease public concern about the slow motion Affordable Care Act train wreck. But rather than demonstrate that there is a realistic plan to fix the website, to restore the health insurance plans that millions of Americans are losing, and to deal with the rate shock and access shock that policyholders are only beginning to confront, today's testimony suggests that problems may actually grow worse.
Ultimately, the President is accountable. But rather than tackle the problem head on, his speech today downplayed problems as usual, and condescendingly told people who have lost policies they liked that they can go shopping for new coverage. Every day that he fails to acknowledge the serious problems this law is creating, the worse the situation will be for American families. It is time to deal with this honestly – with transparency and without regard for politics."