Lamar Alexander to HHS: Release Obamacare Figures Promptly

Wednesday, 23 Oct 2013 05:47 PM

By Greg Richter

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At least one Republican thinks the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should be able to come up with Obamacare enrollment figures faster than HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has promised.

"This is pretty basic information. McDonald's 20 years ago could tell you how many hamburgers it was selling every day," Sen. Lamar Alexander said Wednesday on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

"All we want in the Internet age is, how many people have tried to get on, how many were successful, what was their ZIP code, what was their level of insurance?" said Alexander, R-Tenn.

Governors need the information because Obamacare enrollment affects Medicaid in most states, and Congress needs it because it appropriates its funding, he said.

Sebelius told CNN on Tuesday night that information on enrollment will be released on a monthly basis, just as with other government programs.

But critics of the Affordable Care Act have accused the administration of using that as a smokescreen to mask the fact that few people have signed up on the glitch-riddled website.

Alexander suggested delaying the individual mandate that everyone have health insurance by at least a year. That would allow for what he termed a "referendum" in the 2014 midterm elections on whether to make dramatic changes in the law.

"This was a big screwup," Alexander told Tapper, and President Barack Obama must take responsibility or put someone else in charge. Alexander stopped short of joining other Republicans in calling for Sebelius' ouster, saying that decision was up to the president.

He also voiced opposition to tactics of tying Obamacare funding to the federal budget. The tea party caucus, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tx., did just that in late September and early October, leading to a 16-day government shutdown, which polls say hurt the public's view of the GOP.

"I want us to be the Take Over the Government Party, not the Shut Down the Government Party," Alexander said. "That means we need to elect six more Republican senators, the president in a couple of years, then we can really change Obamacare."

Alexander also shared his own ideas about what he would like to see replace Obamacare:

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