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The Obamacare Mess!

Feds promise to fix sites by December

From The Atlanta Voice staff and wire services | 11/1/2013, 6 a.m.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gestures while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington,this week, before the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the difficulties plaguing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP.

Political accusations were hurled; apologies were given and promises were made, but no one is exactly sure when people will be able to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Health Care websites without any glitches.

The best estimate that can be obtained is it will be in the month of December – some time before Christmas – to be safe about it.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took full blame for the healthcare site problems and promised that it would be fixed by the end of November. She told members of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee that improvements are being made daily.

"Hold me accountable for the debacle," she said at the opening of a contentious hearing by the committee. "I’m responsible."

The federal government is also spending money to fix 15 marketplace state sites that they will administer without any assistance from those states. Over $1 billion have been spent to correct those problems, according to news reports.

Sebelius’ office has been issuing almost daily blogs on improvements being made and to try and clear up confusion by consumers about the program, but they have been virtually ignored by the news outlets.

On Wednesday, Sebelius’ blog addressed some notices insurance companies were sending out about the changes in their plans. She also addressed those same issues before the committee.

“Some insurance companies that sell products in the individual market are making changes to their plans.  Plans that were in place before the Affordable Care Act passed, and that essentially have not changed - that is benefits have not been cut or additional costs imposed on consumers - are exempt or “grandfathered” out of these basic requirements that ensure quality coverage.  Those grandfathered plans can stay the same.  Nothing has changed this fact, and that coverage can continue into 2014, so long as both the insurance company and the consumer agree that it will continue,” Sebelius wrote.  

“Some of less than 5 percent of Americans who currently get insurance on the individual insurance market have recently received notices from their insurance companies suggesting their plans may no longer exist.  These Americans have a choice – they can choose a plan being offered by their insurer, or they can shop for coverage in the Marketplace.  As insurers have made clear – they aren’t dropping consumers; they’re improving their coverage options, often offering plans that are more affordable,” she continued.  

Beyond the bungled start-up of the massive overhaul, Republicans have argued the troubled website’ glitches are proof the government is incapable of managing the complex program.

Obama’s White House legacy depends heavily on whether his massive overhaul of the U.S. health care system will succeed, and so far it’s been an embarrassment. The United States had been the largest developed nation without a national health care system.

Further putting the administration on the defensive, a major contractor involved in building the website told the government last month it didn’t have enough time to test its product.