Obamacare Architect Slams Health Care Law Rollout

'I spent two years of my life working on the Affordable Care Act," Max Baucus said

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Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) talks with a reporters before attending the weekly Senate Democratic Caucus policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol November 5, 2013 in Washington, DC.

The Obama administration’s top health care official said Wednesday that problems with the new insurance enrollment website do not threaten the future of the health care reform law, even as a key architect of the law lambasted the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act.

“There’s plenty of time to sign up for the new plans,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee.

Asked by Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the committee, why the administration has not shuttered the troubled Healthcare.gov site until it can be fixed, Sebelius said technical advisers have told her such a wholesale shutdown is not necessary. Baucus, who led passage of the law through Congress and recently warned its implementation would be a “train-wreck,” said Wednesday that the roll-out has been “unacceptable.”

Sebelius appeared before Congress on Wednesday amid sustained Republican calls for her resignation, mass cancellations of insurance policies in the individual market and charges that President Barack Obama misled Americans about how his signature domestic achievement would affect their lives. She testified before the Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee last week and apologized for the bumpy roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, calling it a “miserably frustrating experience” for consumers.

The secretary took a beating from Republican House members last week and became clearly irritated at times by their questioning. She might have expected to face a friendlier audience before the Democratic-controlled Senate committee on Wednesday. But Baucus’ annoyance and impatience with the administration was palpable.

It’s not an exaggeration to say Baucus wrote the Affordable Care Act. The finance committee’s version of health care reform is closer to the legislation that eventually passed Congress in 2010 than any other version that was debated. As Democratic members of Congress have grown increasingly concerned in recent weeks that implementation of a law they enacted at great political cost has been botched, perhaps no Democrat is more dismayed Baucus.

“I spent two years of my life working on the Affordable Care Act. There is nothing I want more than for it to succeed,” Baucus told Sebelius in his opening remarks on Wednesday.

Baucus reminded the health secretary that he had warned ahead of time that if implementation did not go smoothly, the viability of the new health insurance exchanges, a centerpiece of the law, could be imperiled. And indeed this is the worry of health policy experts who support the law. The dysfunction of Healthcare.gov, the federal exchange web site responsible for enrollment in 36 states, has been hobbled by faulty computer code. Administration officials say it will be fixed by the end of the month, in time for Americans in the individual market to purchase policies by Dec. 15 for coverage that begins Jan. 1.

But Sebelius and her team at HHS promised the Senate Finance Committee and other congressional panels before Healthcare.gov launched on Oct. 1 that it was ready for prime-time.

“Speaking for myself, I want this to work,” Baucus told Sebelius on Wednesday. “I want to do what I can to help you make it work, but it’s a two-way street. You’ve got to tell us what’s going on — candidly, fully — so we don’t wake up at the end of November and low and behold, still nothing yet.”

43 comments
goldengrain
goldengrain

Some governments seem able to manage such projects.  Some countries have fine health care and cover everyone.  I just don't trust the US government to do so.  I mean, who would have top secret security projects administrated and created by consultants?  This administration has been exceedingly tough on whistleblowers.  Maybe if it were not Snowden might not have left the country.  I don't believe we are capable of thinking and planning for the long term, either.   

ThomasHall
ThomasHall

What are you ranting reich-wingers going to say when the law is fully in place and millions sign up, most with cost savings. If the rich pay more, then good. It is about time since under the GOP wealth has been shifted to the wealthy. Gee, paying for something that you personally do not need or use like maternity coverage is like all those taxpayers who do not have children or are not helped by the police or firemen yet pay for the hefty cost of education and protection.

You do know that our healthcare system before the ACA was a nightmare for many people with denied, dropped, maxed-out coverage that failed to provide adequate care and was the single biggest contributor to bankruptcies. Recall that under Bush-Cheney that healthcare cost doubled along with crude oil prices and our National Debt--the GOP never mention that. 

Notice the GOP also never have a alternative to the ACA. People like Romney say it should be handled by the states yet GOP-domineering states opted out of setting up their own exchanges which are working pretty well like Ky., Ny., Md., Calif., etc.taking the burden off the fed or allowing their poorest to save money while getting healthcare under Medicaid. 

ParthaNeogy
ParthaNeogy

"Baucus, who led passage of the law through Congress and recently warned its implementation would be a “train-wreck,” said Wednesday that the roll-out has been “unacceptable.”"

People with longer than ultra short memory will recall that Max Baucus chose to waste valuable time playing footsie with Chuck Grassley, the ranking member of his committee, in a vain attempt to win his endorsement until only a badly compromised bill was all that could be proposed. I wouldn't exactly call that "leading the passage of the law."



JimmyDemello
JimmyDemello

I don't know, I just am not very confident that Obamacare will work. I worked for a few years as a government employee and then got out when I saw the massive waste and  incompetence in useless programs we built which were trashed as soon as a new base commander came aboard.  I had to join the private sector to prove to myself that I was worthy of my paycheck. I'm glad I did.

SeanMaddox
SeanMaddox

Of course the government sucks at things, when half the those people in and running the government don't even believe in it. It's like putting prisoners in charge of a prison. This is the modern day GOP. It is amazing to me how the GOP can make it their policy position to ruin government then turn around and blame democrats for the very destruction they intentionally caused, and American's are dumb enough to buy it. The healthcare law is the exact epitome of this; the GOP went out of their way to cut it down at its knees then filibustered and stopped any changes to the law before it rolled out to fix these very issues. Now they have the audacity to point to the mess they made. Stop buying into their BS people. They're nothing but corporate hacks selling you out to the highest bidder. Also, how well did that Medicare Part D roll out go? Where was the outrage then?

ThomasHall
ThomasHall

The fact is that the GOP, lobbyists, and the $400+ million propaganda and political campaign against it have not helped and notice that 36 GOP-Controlled states opted to put the burden on the federal government to handle all their exchanges. The GOP-domineering states deliberately hurt their poorest, like in Texas where one in four people has no insurance out of spite, by not allowing them Medicaid coverage. Considering that over 60 years have passed before America finally established a national health insurance making America one of the last large industrialized nations to do so and where health insurance, medical procedures and drug costs are considerably higher than elsewhere. The ACA even with flaws is an achievement that benefits everybody by raising the bar of insurance coverage and benefits while reducing the rise in prices.

The GOP are good at hearings and passing political posturing bills that never become laws or hurting the weak economy and job growth by blocking an all-time record of 430+ bills, blocked appointments, and 60-vote super majority votes. 

Time used to be good about in-depth reporting but have failed the American people by not examining the healthcare field, junk policies, examined how many bankruptcies due to medical bills, illuminated the provider and insurance company abuses, and examined doctors salaries, inflated cost of procedures, the profits of the wealthy providers, insurers, drug makers and insurers, medical equipment makers that all feed off the taxpayer or government.

PatPerleberg
PatPerleberg

the gov sucks at running anything including the gov

georgiamd
georgiamd

The fatal conceits of Obamacare are the absurd notions that the government can spend your money more wisely than you can and that bureaucrats are more capable than you are to make your own most intimate, personal decisions. The antithesis of government-centered Obamacare is what I simply call “Patientcare.” Patients should be at the center of our health care universe, not President Obama and not the government.

Un_Lys
Un_Lys

The web site will be fixed and all will be well. Our fellow Americans who previously could not afford healthcare for their families, for their children, will now have coverage. That's a good thing. Every American has the right to a healthy, happy and productive life.

tommyudo
tommyudo

Buzz off Max. You're one of the main reasons why we have this insurance industry friendly conservative bill, instead of a Medicare for all plan.

fedup2nc
fedup2nc

Of course the "technical advisers" told the politicians what they wanted to hear. Some things are so badly broken and based on seriously flawed designs that they can't be fixed, only covered with mulltiple layers of bandages.  Too much time and money is currently being spent on managing healthcare plans and paperwork, now Obamacare has taken the waste to a new higher level. For all of the greatness promised by Obama, show me some accurate numbers on actual enrollment and costs.  But this is coming from a president who made a big deal about seeing Romney's tax return during the last election, and wouldn't even show his own birth certificate!

jb1111
jb1111

ACA is a Blight on Senator Backus's record forever!!

Insightful
Insightful

As an HR manager, who has managed open enrollment for the past 7 years. I'm still trying to educate our employees on the advantages of the website for their personal health needs. But it's still an issue for some, and others just have a hard time getting on the website, and I have to go and personally get it up for them. Some of the issues are the website themselves, others are individuals level of learning new things and sometimes people are just looking for it not to work. 

But I'm trying of hearing the criticism be it's not working perfect. Let's get real!

tamarack
tamarack

It's too bad that we didn't get healthcare. Instead we got insurancecare, which is another high cost.

SmoothEdward1
SmoothEdward1

This kind of criticism coming from a man who had to attend a two-day workshop just to learn how to turn a computer, "ON."

ViableOp
ViableOp

While fingers are being pointed at Obamacare, there is a greater issue that should be troubling Americans about the nation's health care system.  As shown in this article, Americans spend the most on per capita health services in the world for five key reasons:

http://viableopposition.blogspot.ca/2013/10/explaining-high-cost-of-health-care.html

Until there is some way of controlling costs, Americans will find themselves laying out more than their OECD counterparts for health care. 

grungymike
grungymike

@ThomasHall  You want to sign up hotshot, go right on ahead. Let's see how fast your personal financial data gets hacked. And no, I'm not interested in helping you pay for your kids. Pay for 'em yourself. I will give you credit on one point- the only reason little Barry's dog and pony show got off the ground is because the Republican crowd didn't address what is an obvious problem. What was really needed was some people in congress to grow some balls and restructure current private sector insurance regulations. Or offer a series of government sponsored plans that address these problems, and make participation optional, NOT MANDATORY! 

grungymike
grungymike

@JimmyDemello Now what we need to do is prevent the federal government from completely destroying the private sector. 

anon76
anon76

@JimmyDemello 

Considering your fetishizing of private sector over the government, you should be thrilled with Obamacare.  Rather than letting the government set rates on healthcare, Obamacare leaves that to the profit-driven insurance companies.

SeanMaddox
SeanMaddox

@PatPerleberg Of course the government sucks at things, when half the those people in and running the government don't even believe in it. It's like putting prisoners in charge of a prison. This is the modern day GOP. It is amazing to me how the GOP can make it their policy position to ruin government then turn around and blame democrats for the very destruction they intentionally caused, and American's are dumb enough to buy it. The healthcare law is the exact epitome of this; the GOP went out of their way to cut it down at its knees then filibustered and stopped any changes to the law before it rolled out to fix these very issues. Now they have the audacity to point to the mess they made. Stop buying into their BS people. They're nothing but corporate hacks selling you out to the highest bidder. Also, how well did that Medicare Part D roll out go? Where was the outrage then?

DeeC
DeeC

@PatPerleberg An astute & brief analysis!  The "gov" has now demonstrated another high level of incompetence.  Fasten your seat belts!  More "smoke & mirrors" to come on Obamacare.

ThomasHall
ThomasHall

@georgiamd Little fella. You do know that it was the private sector, the deregulated banks whose rich bankster fraud took down Wall St., the job-creating housing industry/market, and our economy. The greedy, corrupt banksters also took $15 trillion from Americans' household wealth, 4+ million homes, 9 million homes underwater, 9 million jobs on top of the five million manufacturing jobs under Bush-Cheney shipped overseas along with $400 billion in uncollected taxes from thousands of GOP-enabled corporate tax dodges.

The ACA is not "government-centered" if it was it would be a single-payer system like Medicare which works well and is cheaper, as is the VA. The GOP have maintained a profit-driven healthcare system not patient-driven and blocked a national healthcare insurance for over 60 years because their wealthy benefactors the providers, insurers, doctors were making out and are still making out like the bandits they are. The GOP really opposes the ACA because it cut into the excessive profits and abuses of the healthcare providers, doctors, drug makers, and insurers.

What hypocrisy to say that "government bureaucrats are more capable that you are to make your most intimate, personal decisions" while the GOP have imposed and continue to impose nationwide, unnecessary, government-mandated, intrusive medical procedures on women seeking legal abortions or taking over their bodies and control over their reproductive rights. Nothing more "intimate" than that. Thanks to the GOP, American healthcare is profit-driven not patient driven and is the best that money can buy. If you don't have money, you are out of luck as the GOP see healthcare as a choice not a right. 


LibelFreeZone
LibelFreeZone

@tommyudo   Let's see...the bill was drafted by Dems, voted into existence solely by Dems and defended to the hilt by Dems, yet you call it a "conservative" bill.  Good thing you have OwebamaKare to take care of the medical expenses required to pull your head out of your butt.

C_Ryback
C_Ryback

Yeah, well, it just spilled your medical records into public view, and you'll never be hired again.

Way to go, OweBama (D). You idiot (D).

C_Ryback
C_Ryback

How much OweBama (D) paying you?

You left out "Bush's fault."

You ain't getting paid. Way to go.

grungymike
grungymike

@anon76 @JimmyDemello  please explain why the ACA requires a 61 year old single working male to pay for maternity care. And don't tell me I'm expected to pay for someone else's kids.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@DeeC @PatPerleberg How many fatal airline events happen per 1,000 miles flown Dee? What country has the safest food supply? What country avoided the disaster of thalidomide due to our government-run drug safety program?  What are the highway death toll numbers now compared to pre- highway safety administration days? I always love these "The government can't do anything" right attitudes that come from people who live a more safe life than 90% of the rest of the world- mostly due to the government's efforts. 

georgiamd
georgiamd

@ThomasHall @georgiamd Well Thomas, your rant against the GOP makes it obvious that you are more about partisanship than fixing a seriously flawed law. 

The president’s health care leviathan is already showing signs of collapse under its own weight. The Obamacare lies of universal coverage, cost savings and deficit reduction have been exposed, and even one of its own architects now admits that the law is “beyond comprehension” and predicts a “huge train wreck” that, after its bad start, “will just simply get worse.” Indeed, I think that assessment is spot on and if anything, it underestimates the turmoil it will create.


jmac
jmac

@LibelFreeZone @tommyudo Let's see . . .  The House and Senate sent their bills to be reconciled and Obama called in the architect of Romneycare and changed both bills - then sent it to Pelosi and Reid and said pass it.   They did.

It's a Romney/Heritage Foundation/Nixon health care plan because Obama's a Blue dog.  Don't like it?   Let's get a Democratic plan, but don't try to say it's not a Republican plan.  Tis.  

Un_Lys
Un_Lys

@LibelFreeZone

It will always be Romneycare. Good enough for the people of Mass.

DeeC
DeeC

@Un_Lys @Insightful Why are YOU - "an HR manager" - in charge of getting "up" the Obamacare website and educating your employees?  Where was your IT Dept?  Haven't you worked together for seven (7) years?  Let's get real!

FaithDandois
FaithDandois

Please explain why the ACA requires a 56 year old single working female to pay for viagra, heart medication, prostate exams and cancer treatment, vasectomies, and all those sports related injuries which are most prevalent among males? 

Your statement is ridiculous and self-centered. Insurance, by its nature, is about spreading risk. We all pay for each other. But you've pretty well limned the essence of the republican base. A quest to find an acceptable rationalization for utter selfishness...mine mine mine. If that's okay then give me back my money for that stupid war in Iraq because I shouldn't be expected to pay for such perfidious folly.

C_Ryback
C_Ryback

Hey, Einstein -- 98% of the USA does NOT live in Tax-a-chusetts. And have a senator named FAUX-a-hontus.

Duh.

SeanMaddox
SeanMaddox

Deex, because HR department handles employee benefits or have you never had a job? It is their sole job to get people enrolled in their benefits, and this includes the ACA now. This level of pure spite is what is killing America. Grow up, work with us, and lets make this and our larger healthcare industry work for all Americans.

SeanMaddox
SeanMaddox

This level of hate is amazing. The law's full affects haven't even gone into action, and you and your hate mongers already are rooting for its failure, because you care more about tearing down your perceived enemies than actually putting all Americans as your priority. Also, initial data is showing it's working. Healthcare costs as GDP have began decreasing for the first time in decades.

C_Ryback
C_Ryback

Sure. Right after OweBama learns how to do math accurately.