Democratic Senator Tom Harkin has issued a warning to members of his senate committee who will be questioning a key federal official involved in implementing “ObamaCare.”
“Slowly, but surely, Americans who have waited years to get covered are enrolling in health insurance for the first time. We owe them our very best efforts to move the ball forward,” Harkin said. “And so I will be listening closely when questions are asked today of our witness: Is this in order to help and fix this system to make this Affordable Care Act work or is it another means to tear down the system and discourage participation?”
Harkin is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is testifying before the committee about on-line enrollment in the health insurance exchanges.
“I share my Republican colleagues’ concern about the website’s technical flaws and the bumpy roll-out and I look forward to a discussion about how we can move forward,” Harkin said in an opening statement this morning, “but I want to be very clear: I hope we’re here for a constructive discussion, not a game of ‘gotcha.'”
Harkin said Americans “who have been waiting for years” for some kind of health insurance coverage “deserve better” than what they’ve gotten thus far from the federal insurance marketplace. However, Harkin accepts the Obama Administration’s promise that the website will be running properly by November 30.
“Before we get into the details, I think everyone should take a deep breath,” Harkin said. “This is, after all, a website. This is a machine that will be fixed.”
Every senator on the committee will get to make an opening statement, then each will get to pose questions to one of the Obama Administration’s top health care officials. Harkin plans to ask about the extent of testing of the website before it was launched and why officials seemed to be surprised by the severity of the website’s problems. Republican senators plan to focus on the insurance cancellation letters Americans have begun receiving, despite President Obama’s repeated statements that Americans would get to keep their current health care plans.