Reporting Pat Kessler
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The agency responsible for the problem-plagued Obamacare website apologized Tuesday for the technical breakdown.
But at a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee, it blamed the contractors who built HealthCare.gov. Minnesota Republican Erik Paulsen is the state’s only congressman on the committee, and he was at the center of this latest development.
Testifying before the Republican-led committee, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Marilyn Tavenner, blamed contractors and high web traffic for HealthCare.gov’s poor performance.
“And to the millions of Americans who attempted to use healthcare.gov to shop and enroll in health care coverage, I want to apologize to you that the website has not worked as well as it should,” Tavenner said. “We know how desperately you need affordable coverage.”
Nearly a month after going online, CMS says HealthCare.gov still faces “complex technical issues.” But it is promising that many issues will be fixed within another month.
Paulsen demanded to see a list of glitch fixes underway. He also quoted constituents from his district who questioned whether they can keep their current premiums, policies or doctors.
“They like their plan they’re on,” he said. “They’ve been on it for a few years. The rates have been going up previously, but now they are going to go up another 20 percent.”
Minority Democrats accused Republicans of deliberately trying to sabotage Obamacare. The most senior Democrat — John Lewis of Georgia– compared them to segregationists trying to stop civil rights.
“And some of us will not stand for it. We will stand up and fight for what is right, for and what is fair and what is just,” Lewis said. “Health care is a right, and not a privilege.”
The head of the healthcare.gov still wouldn’t say how many Americans have actually signed up for health care insurance.
She said those numbers won’t be available until mid-November.
NOTE: A handful of states – Minnesota included — designed their own websites and are not having the same level of problems as the rest of the country.