Sen. Corker: Obamacare Woes Aren't Over With Website Fixes

Image: Sen. Corker: Obamacare Woes Aren't Over With Website Fixes

Sunday, 01 Dec 2013 01:23 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The ongoing issues with the Obamacare website — and a set of just-unveiled improvements — are just a portion of the problems that will continue to haunt the healthcare law and its implementation, Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker says.

"There are thousands of entities around the country that easily could have set this [website] up with $600 million in three years," Corker told CBS' "Face the Nation" guest host John Dickerson Sunday.

Even with all that cost "we get calls from incredibly distressed citizens who have had their policies cancelled yet are unable to enroll in a new plan," Corker said. "I do hope that the efficacy of this is much better today and will improve. But at the end of the day, there will be few winners. Most Americans are going to find a less-dynamic health system."

Corker said Americans will see that their healthcare costs will be a lot more, while their choices will be far less.

Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, also on the Sunday show, said that the website's error rates are being reported at under 1 percent, and 90 percent of the time, the system is now stable.

"It can handle 50,000 users, 800,000 visits a day," Menendez said. "If that's the case, then that's good news."

The problems with the website, Menendez said, are technological and are hiding the benefits of the underlying program itself.

"What we've lost sight of is that the underlying program itself, the product of the health insurance that Americans will be able to access is critically important," said Menendez.

The HealthCare.gov site's problems, he said, are "the equivalent of having a great item that you want to buy in a store but not being able to get through the front door. Sounds like the front door has been opened successfully now and hopefully Americans can get access to that health care they desperately need."

But Corker said that as people start enrolling, he believes there are "going to be a lot of negative surprises as to what they're able to enroll in."

Further, Corker said, he doesn't know how to fix the many fundamental problems of Obamacare, because as one issue is solved, it affects other parts.

Corker said he's glad President Barack Obama is trying to "fix" the promise he made regarding people keeping their insurance, but "if that's the case, then you have this situation where potentially a death spiral occurs" if premiums sharply increase.

"I'm a strong supporter of dynamic marketplace exchanges," said Corker. "I do think we need to equalize the tax code so that if you buy it individually you get the same benefits that you do through a company where it's tax free."

However, he said the fundamentals were done in a "chaotic way" much like the rollout.

"They were done in a way that there wasn't a vision at the end, just an amalgamation of legislation that didn't have a central focus, so I don't know how you fix it," said Corker.

Meanwhile, Menendez said that he does not think, in the long run, that the botched rollout will harm Democratic senators trying to be re-elected.

"I look at New Jersey and I think it's a replication of what is out there for the nation," said Menendez, noting that 70,000 young adults remain on their parents insurance because of the new law, and 1.5 million women now get additional health benefits.

"I think senators will be in a great position to say, you know, look, we are doing dramatic changes that help you be able to meet the challenges for your family of healthcare and eliminate some of the greatest evils that existed under the previous system."

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