Reporting Pat Kessler
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Frustrated Democrats are complaining about the problem-plagued rollout of the new health care program known as Obamacare. And one Minnesota Congressman, Democrat Rick Nolan, says President Obama needs to “man up, step up” and start firing people.
Top Obama administration officials, particularly Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, are under fire for technology woes plaguing the law’s centerpiece Web site. It is the backbone of the health insurance signup process and has proven unreliable.
The plain-spoken Nolan says they can’t get good answers about what went so wrong. House Democrats left a closed-door briefing with administration health officials Wednesday, and they were uncharacteristically frustrated with the president.
“I feel that the people responsible for this did a terrible disservice to the Affordable Care Act and to the president by allowing this thing to go forward when they knew it wasn’t ready,” Nolan said.
Obama’s signature health care legislation was already unpopular before the stunning public relations setback: millions unable log on to the Web site.
And Republicans say this is all a symptom of something much bigger.
“The rollout of Obamacare is nothing short of a debacle,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. “And the American people are now fearful of their healthcare.”
The White House says it’s trying to work quickly to fix what’s wrong, emphasizing that the landmark health care bill is still a good product.
“There is no question that we did not anticipate the scale of the problems with the Web site,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary. “What is also important to remember is that the Web site is not the Affordable Care Act.”
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D – New Hampshire) is calling for the president to extend open enrollment, and, possibly, the individual mandate into next year.
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken said “the problems with HealthCare.gov are unacceptable, and our priority now must be to fix them.”
Note: For all the problems with the health care website, Minnesotans aren’t experiencing the same difficulties. That’s because Minnesota set up its own health care exchange; and though there have been some problems, they’ve been comparatively small.
The biggest problems– and they are major– are in states that refused to set up their own health care exchanges.