Issa, Alexander Investigating Extent of Obamacare Launch Problems

Published: Oct 10, 2013

WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., today requested more information from Health and Human Services about the significant problems plaguing the launch of federal health insurance exchanges established under Obamacare.

“We are concerned by recent comments to the media that the system suffers from architectural problems that need design changes,” Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Alexander write in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “From day one… has been plagued by what Administration officials initially referred to as technical glitches.”

The letter continues, “Among the many problems that have been identified in the media: many tens of thousands of people have started the application process but been unable to create accounts; the system that determines whether people are eligible for federal subsidies or Medicaid has made inaccurate determinations; the exchange will not be able to communicate with state Medicaid agencies until November; drop down tools and identity checking systems have not properly functioned; the website bottlenecks at the account creation stage; insurers are receiving incomplete or corrupted applications; and insufficient capacity has been allocated for the website.“

The letter also seeks more information about whether individuals are still expected to suffer a tax penalty if they do not purchase government-approved health insurance.  “ObamaCare requires millions of individuals to enroll in government-mandated insurance or else face a tax penalty,” the letter states, however, “[t]he law required an online exchange be available by October 1, 2013, for individuals to compare plans and rates.”

On July 17, 2013, Marilyn Tavenner, the top official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS)  testified to the Oversight Committee that the exchanges “will be open for business” on October 1st and consumers “will be able to log onto, fill out an application and find out what coverage and benefits they qualify for.”

You can read the complete letter to Secretary Sebelius here.