Congress to force Obamacare reporting issue
Republicans in the House are tired of the administration treating information about the progress of the Obamacare rollout as if it were a national security issue. A bill will be introduced next week mandating weekly reports from the administration on how well Obamacare is doing.
Members will consider the Exchange Information Disclosure Act, which Republicans say is needed because the Obama administration has failed to offer details about ObamaCare participation levels.
Since the launch of the troubled website in October, the administration has offered sporadic updates about participation. But those updates have mostly frustrated Republicans who are seeking more detailed data, and who are also pressing for more information about what officials are doing to fix the websites various problems.
The bill up next week, H.R. 3362, would address both complaints. First, it would require weekly updates on the number of unique website visitors, new accounts, and new enrollments in a qualified health plan, as well as the level of coverage. All of this data would have to be provided on a state-by-state basis.
Secondly, it would require a weekly update on efforts to fix problems people have had logging into the website and enrolling in coverage. Reports detailing all of this information would have to be submitted to Congress every Monday until the end of March 2015.
The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), said in November that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must give states data about statewide enrollment if they are to help implement the law. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who sponsored a Senate version of the bill, said there's no reason why HHS can't provide the data on a regular basis.
One of the pieces of information Republicans want is the extent to which young, healthy people are signing up versus those more likely to need medical care. The bill from Terry and Alexander doesn't require that information, but it does require weekly reports on enrollees by zip code, which could provide clues about the kind of people signing up for coverage.
Additionally, Republicans have demanded information about how many people have actually made their first monthly payment for an ObamaCare health plan. But the bill does not address this issue, and as payments are made directly to insurance companies, it's not expected that the government would have this information.
The administration has said most recently that 2.1 million people have enrolled in the federally-run exchanges; it is not clear how many of them have paid.
The problem for the White House is that they are basically only releasing information that reflects positively on the president and the ACA. Since the good news is few and far between, days or even weeks can pass without much illuminating information.
It would seem logical that the administration has this information somewhere. After all, they're very concerned about the success of Obamacare and would want all the information possible to deal with problems that arise as well as tout successes that occur. But it's inexcusable that they are treating information that Congress needs to evaluate the program as if it were part of a political campaign.
One more indication they don't know the difference between governing and campaigning.