White House Press Secretary Jay Carney maintains the Obama administration has confidence in HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius – this following the commotion-filled Obamacare rollout of fall, 2013, and also after the HHS Secretary was conspicuously absent during the announcement about the latest purported 7.1 million ACA enrollment number. Carney also added, President Obama “has had and has confidence in the Secretary of Health and Human Services”, that she “was at the front of the line, getting to work”, righting the Obamacare website, now widely known for technical foul-ups. “Those were hard days for a lot of folks who bore the responsibility of making the Affordable Care Act a success”, said Carney, adding: “But the response, to a person, was not to point fingers of blame but to roll up their sleeves and get to work fixing the problems.” Carney has also advised reporters to not read things into Sebelius’ absence when he announced that the most recent ACA enrollment figures (supposedly) surpassed initial Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates: “I think you’re obsessing on something that I promise you needs not obsession.” In the fall of 2013, some lawmakers, including Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) asked Obama to discharge the HHS secretary over the troubled debut of Obamacare. Also, during a Senate hearing, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) pointedly told the secretary she should quit after she had: “put our entire healthcare system and one-sixth of our economy in jeopardy.” At that time, Sebelius countered her Republican opposition by retorting they are “people I don’t work for.”
During the ACA “rollout victory lap” in the Rose Garden, Obama took a swipe at the press, “who were too eager to spotlight every incremental development associated with the site’s botched launch.”
The Ryan Budget (Part1). Rep. Paul Ryan (Rep. WI.) issued his final budget, and it’s one including a full repeal of Obamacare. However, Ryan has not outlined provisions for even a potential replacement, or even given the slightest indication what would happen to those currently enrolled in under the new healthcare law. Ryan says his budget “[C]lears the way for patient-centered reforms that will help increase access, improve quality, and lower costs.”
Three senior Senate Republicans: Burr of North Carolina, Coburn of Oklahoma, and Hatch of Utah have a blueprint for an Obamacare alternative, but leadership of the House is not enthusiastic.
The Ryan Budget (Part 3). According to the self-described, non-partisan Think Progress: As the Obama administration celebrates having purportedly achieved its Affordable Healthcare Act preliminary re-enrollment numbers. Rep. Paul Ryan (R. Wi.) still has an opposing view: it’s in the form of his newest proposed federal budget. Ryan’s proposal seeks to outright repeal Obamacare, concurrently asking Congress to: “pursue patient-centered health-care reforms that actually bring down the cost of care by empowering consumers.” Ryan soothsays, Obamacare: “will undermine private insurance” and “the competitive forces of the marketplace”, ultimately leading to a single-payer system.
While Ryan criticizes the ACA’s “government mandates”, and the supposed choice to leave: “health-care decisions into the hands of bureaucrats”, he praises this very same kind of government control(s) elsewhere in the budget.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has uncovered 79 high risk vulnerabilities – specifically in information processing systems of at least ten state Medicaid agencies which “raise concerns about the integrity of the systems used to process Medicaid claims.” While ten states are not identified, the OIG said the investigation “suggests that other State Medicaid information systems may be similarly vulnerable.” However, the OIG results cannot be applied to all 50 states. The OIG has provided a table giving using a numerical grading scale reflecting a range from a low of 3 for one state, to a high of 17 for another. States are identified on this table as State A; State B, etc.
About 8.9 million low income Americans will fall within revised guidelines for Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. “With the personal information of nearly 9 million more Americans running through State Medicaid systems, the increased strain on the system and workload of state personnel serve to increase the urgency of addressing those serious security shortcomings.”
Open Enrollment for Obamacare has passed much the same way it began, still a variety of computer malfunctions confront those just trying to get new health plans. New battle lines exist between Democrats and Republicans over ACA (“Obamacare”) policy. Democrats will firmly contend that while there were setbacks in implementing the president’s signature healthcare milestone, the White House and fellow progressives should get credit for insuring millions – who not all that long ago had no healthcare. Republicans will counter-argue ACA issues exist well and far beyond the website itself. Conservatives also say the American people will suffer sticker shock when they see the costs of rising premiums, resulting in an uprising against another attempt at a big government fix.
Opponents also maintain the Obama White House is skewing the books on enrollment details, that once a more complete portrait is painted it will only undermine the Obama administration’s sales pitch for the Affordable Care Act. A recent study coming from the RAND Corporation found of the estimated 6 million people who signed up for Obamacare plans, 2 million were uninsured.
Open enrollment for the Obamacare marketplaces or exchanges (officially) closed March 31, 2014, supposedly concluding one of the most event filled segments in the four year old law’s chronology. As for the uninsured, what happens to them now, and in the future?
Some will have the opportunity to get covered this year. An estimated tens of millions Americans are without health insurance of any kind, which means multiple things. For example, at the state level, in Oregon – the sign-up deadline has been extended by 30 days, due to that state’s enrolment process having been so seriously botched.
Other individuals are potentially subject to the Obamacare Tax (or Fine) for not enrolling, but may not have to worry about that – after all. The government is issuing (or supposedly will be) exemptions for any number of reasons: religious, financial hardships; or, those who fall within the “Medicaid Gap”.
Republicans are intent on making Obamacare the central political issue in the very political year of 2014. Reason one: 53 percent of surveyed Americans (on average) disapprove of the ACA. Reason two: public support (according to CBS) has never attained even the 50 percent level.