WASHINGTON, October 3, 2013 —The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, was passed in to law over three years ago. It is the president’s signature piece of legislation, with a nickname that he reportedly appreciates. In fact, the administration and Democratic leadership are so enthralled with Obamacare, they have shut down the government over it.
“Starting today,” President Obama said Tuesday during a White House Rose Garden press conference, “you and your friends and your family and your coworkers can get covered, too. Just visit healthcare.gov, and there you can compare insurance plans, side by side, the same way you’d shop for a plane ticket on Kayak or a TV on Amazon.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius heads the department charged with overseeing Obamacare. On Monday, she said, “Shutdown or no shutdown, we’re ready to go start enrolling people tomorrow. … All of us see this as sort of the eve of a new chapter. We’re about to make some history.”
History is being made all right, but certainly not the kind that President Obama would want for his namesake legislation.
The AP is reporting that “pressure is on for the federal government and states running their own health insurance exchanges to get the systems up and running after overloaded websites and jammed phone lines frustrated consumers for a second day as they tried to sign up for coverage using the new marketplaces.”
The same story from AP noted that Sharon Schorr of Cleveland, Ohio was trying to access the federal exchange website for eight hours, and finally gave up. “It almost reminded me of going online and trying to buy Springsteen tickets,” said Schorr.
The Washington, D.C. CBS affiliate reports that one insurance manager in Allentown, Pa. has “yet to have someone successfully register on the marketplace.” Matt Hadzick continues, “The registration process is very slow, and at one point it just shuts down.”
WSMV in Tennessee said in its own report, “We’re hearing not a single person locally has been successful getting through to the new health insurance exchange,” according to a local reporter. “It seems to be a problem especially in states like Tennessee, where the state opted out and left it up to the federal government to run what is essentially an online shopping site.” A second reporter then comes on the screen and confirms, “Again, as you just said, no one in Tennessee that I know of, according to the counselors I’ve talked to, has been able to successfully negotiate that federal website.”
The Daily Mail collected statistics, and noted that the first day of Obamacare, Tuesday, October 1, was not very successful according to the numbers. In California, only 0.58 percent of the visitors to the website registered. By 3 p.m. on Monday, it claimed to have had 5.7 million website hits. In Connecticut, a mere 167 applications were submitted in the first day, accounting for 0.59 percent of the visitors to the site. Democratic Congressman Jim Himes tweeted that there were 28,000 visitors to the state exchange website. In Kentucky, what is perhaps the highest rate of success was seen with 5.3 percent of those visiting the site actually completing the application.
In a phone call Thursday morning with members of the press, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Obamacare “isn’t ready for prime time.” He explained that people are trying to sign up but they are getting a “please wait sign and elevator hold music.” Priebus mentioned that NBC, CNN, MarketWatch and others have reporters who have tried to sign up in their exchange, and have been unsuccessful. The chairman conjectures that “Obama knows this happened and is bummed.”
Congressman Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), also on the phone call with the RNC and press Thursday morning, explained that he too tried to sign up in the online exchange on Tuesday and could not. “Staff is getting emails telling them to wait to see what happens,” Cotton said, explaining that Hill staffers have been warned to wait to sign up in the exchanges for a couple months.
A contentious aspect of the Obamacare law is that Congressmen and Capitol staffers have an exemption of sorts, receiving a 72 percent subsidy for buying health insurance on the exchange that no other American citizen receives. In addition, President Obama unilaterally delayed the employer requirement to provide insurance for one year at the behest of big business. Cotton explained, “Democrats chose to keep their exemption and shut the government down.”
The claims the Democrats are making about the law, the Republican party’s stance on the issue and what it would take to reopen the government are in dispute, as The Washington Times outlined in a story Tuesday. Democrats are even willing to hurt veterans in order to keep their exemptions and Obamacare, which The Washington Times explained Wednesday.
When asked in the Thursday call whether Priebus believed the Republicans should just let the law die on its own, he replied, “Doing what’s politically right isn’t always what’s right for the American people. … The people see Obamacare is worth fighting over.”
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