Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. health-care law will work after the administration of President Barack Obama fixes the program’s website, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear said.
“It’s going to be a success,” Beshear, a Democrat who has led the creation of Kentucky’s health-insurance exchange, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program yesterday. “They’re going to fix it.”
Since opening for business Oct. 1, the healthcare.gov Web portal to the federal exchange serving 36 states has been plagued by delays, error messages and hang-ups that have prevented customers from enrolling in a health insurance plan.
“Everybody needs to chill out because it is going to work,” Beshear said. “These plans and Medicaid are directed toward prevention and wellness, and that is the future of health care and I think everybody knows it.”
More than 300,000 people have visited Kentucky’s health- care exchange website, and more than 26,000 people have signed up for plans, with 10,000 more “in the process of choosing,” Beshear said.
Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican, said the U.S. health-care program known as Obamacare doesn’t control costs.
“The rollout is the least of the problem here,” Kasich said. “In my state most Ohioans are going to pay higher costs.”
Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that consumer privacy is at risk as personal information is exchanged between government agencies.
“That’s the weakest, most vulnerable part,” Rogers said. “They do not have an overarching, solid cybersecurity plan to prevent the loss of private information.”
Obama has brought in Jeffrey Zients, the U.S. chief performance officer, to fix healthcare.gov.
Zients promised on Oct. 25 the site, home to the insurance exchanges where Americans can buy health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, will be fixed by December. Coverage is also available via state-run exchanges in 17 states and the District of Columbia under the Obama health care program.
Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican who heads the House Oversight panel , said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius may need to resign because of the troubled health care rollout.
“The president has been poorly served,” Issa said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program. “If she cannot reorganize to get the kind of a team consistently to meet his agenda, then she shouldn’t be there.”
As a result of the enrollment difficulties, a group of Senate Democrats are calling for an extension of the period in which Americans can sign up without facing penalties. The current deadline is March 31.
“The rollout has been a disaster,” New Hampshire’s Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, part of the group, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program. “What I’m proposing is that we extend the period in which people can enroll, so we can make sure we get as many people who want health insurance able to enroll and be able to be covered.”
Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, repeated his call for a delay in the implementation of the penalty for the individual mandate. He said he is trying to put together a bipartisan coalition to push back until January 2015 the $95 fine for not enrolling.
“At that time, the fine will be $325,” Manchin said yesterday on ABC’s “This Week” program. “It will still induce people to get involved, but it will also give us the time to transition in.”
Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican who also spoke on the ABC program, said “the website was supposed to be the easy part” of the initiative and said the glitches are “just the tip of the iceberg.”
“The president made promises that this was going to be cheaper than your cellphone bill, easier to use than Amazon, and you could keep your doctor,” Barrasso said. People across the country “are seeing that’s just not true,” he said..
--With assistance from Shobhana Chandra in Washington. Editor: Ann Hughey, Kevin Costelloe