House Republicans stepped up their attacks on Obamacare on Friday — after President Barack Obama admitted that "we screwed it up" — charging that the healthcare law should be delayed for all Americans, not just those who lost their insurance.
“With this latest delay, the Obama administration is once again admitting that the president’s healthcare law is unworkable and unaffordable," House Speaker John Boehner said. "Millions have lost the plans they liked, only to find themselves priced out of new policies with higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
"The administration’s action does nothing to address the problems at the center of the president’s healthcare law, or to help the families suffering its consequences," the Ohio Republican continued. "All Americans deserve a hardship exemption from this train wreck of a law, and a focus on patient-centered reforms that will help lower costs and protect jobs.”
Late Thursday, the White House announced
that Americans whose insurance has been canceled could buy "catastrophic plans" or avoid buying insurance altogether. The surprise announcement came just four days before the Dec. 23 deadline for Americans to choose coverage that will begin on Jan. 1.
The decision has roiled the insurance industry and sent the stocks of such major insurers as Cigna Corp., Aetna Inc., and Humana lower on Wall Street.
At his last news conference of the year, Obama admitted on Friday that "we screwed it up" regarding the botched rollout of the healthcare plan's individual mandate on Oct. 1.
He continued to blame
many of the problems with the rollout on technical issues regarding the HealthCare.gov website, which covers 36 states that lack their own exchanges.
"There are a whole bunch of things that we've been taking a look at," Obama said at the White House session.
That was not enough for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and other GOP legislators, though, who have long attacked Obamacare as unworkable, expensive, and unfixable.
"Our entire healthcare system can't be fundamentally changed at any given time subject to the random impulses of President Obama," Cantor said in a statement. "How can anyone make healthcare decisions today knowing that the law may be unilaterally changed again tomorrow?
"Many Americans had good healthcare that they liked and could afford, but lost it due to Obamacare," he added. "Absent affordable alternatives, these families are now being told to simply go without care for a year or buy a bare-bones plan that doesn't offer them the care they need. Is that the promise of Obamacare?
"Republicans have consistently asked for a one-year delay of the mandates for all Americans, and put forward a proposal to allow American families to keep their health plans," he said. "The White House actions clearly prove Obamacare can't work as designed. It's time for Obamacare to be delayed for all."
Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, an orthopedic surgeon who is vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, said that "at this point, no one is particularly surprised at the Obama administration’s inability to govern in a coherent and orderly manner.
"But President Obama and his team are showing a remarkable level of disregard for how their decisions will affect millions of Americans and how Obamacare is harming real people in real ways.
"American families are doing all they can right now to plan and adjust to the fallout of Obamacare, whether it's losing their current healthcare coverage or facing higher costs," Price added. "Does the administration honestly believe it can simply paint over the damage it is doing with these sort of last-minute maneuvers? This law is fundamentally flawed."
Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee referenced her questioning of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week during a hearing of the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“We asked Secretary Sebelius point-blank what would be the next holiday surprise, and she was silent," Blackburn, the committee's vice chairman, said in a statement. "Yet, here we are with another major policy shift.
"The sad reality is that when the law takes effect come Jan. 1, more Americans will be without coverage under Obamacare than one year ago. What's worse, the administration knew millions of plans would be cancelled, but the president kept repeating his solemn promises knowing they would not be kept."
In another setback for HealthCare.gov,
a top federal official told the House Oversight Committee this week that "high" and "moderate" security risks had been discovered on the site in recent weeks.
The disclosures by Teresa Fryer, chief information security officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, bolstered claims by Republicans, technology experts, and users that HealthCare.gov was vulnerable to security breaches.
"There were two high findings," Fryer said in transcripts released on Friday by Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the oversight committee's chairman. "One high finding was identified in an incident that was reported in November."
Of the disclosures, Blackburn's Volunteer State colleague, Diane Black, said: “It is deeply concerning that, almost three months after HealthCare.gov was launched, we are still learning of new and serious security risks with the Obamacare website.
"The fact is, this program was never ready to be launched, and it is reprehensible that this administration would proceed with implementation when the security of millions of Americans’ personal information is at risk from cyber threats and identity theft.
"Obamacare should be stopped in its entirety, but in the meantime, the very least this administration can do is properly notify someone if the personal information they have entered into the website is under threat — something that the federal government is currently under no obligation to do."
Black noted that the legislation she introduced this week would require the government to notify Americans of such data breaches.
"Until Obamacare can be fully repealed, we must do what we can to protect Americans from this disastrous and dangerous law," Black said.
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