The winter months are bringing a fresh set of challenges for the second season of Obamacare just as people are deciding whether to purchase their insurance for the first time through the nation’s healthcare exchanges.
The enrollment period has gone much more smoothly this time around, after last year’s HealthCare.gov debacle left potential customers confused, dismayed, and angry that they were not able to purchase insurance plans. But 2014 is bringing a whole new set of problems to the Obama administration, reports The Hill, and they may not be as easy to solve.
For example, the year is ending with the Obama administration red-faced over statements made by Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, after videos surfaced of him claiming that a “lack of transparency” and the “stupidity” of the voters helped the administration push the healthcare reform through.
Democrats have insisted that Gruber wasn’t as involved in developing Obamacare as earlier claims had portrayed. But the damage was done, and it will add fuel to Republicans’ demands to replace or repeal the president’s signature healthcare plan after they take office in January.
California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, the outgoing House Oversight Committee chairman, will question Gruber on Dec. 9 in one of his final hearings before he leaves office at the end of the year. Gruber’s testimony may cause even more damage as Obama fights Republicans to keep his healthcare plan alive.
That same meeting will also include testimony from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. Oversight Democrats also plan to bring a witness of their own, reports The Hill, but one has not yet been chosen.
Open enrollment also will be problematic this year, even though this fall’s signup period has gone more smoothly and is proving to be a success for Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.
But there is only a three-month period, which ends on Feb. 15, to bring in millions of new customers and encourage existing ones to re-enroll, and there still remain problems with the back end of the website. It is partly unfinished, leaving insurers and officials to have to verify some applications by hand.
The administration is predicting only 9 to 9.9 million will sign up for insurance this year, falling far short of the 13 million the Congressional Budget office predicted.
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