Baucus: Obamacare Penalties Should Be Delayed If Website Isn't Fixed

Image: Baucus: Obamacare Penalties Should Be Delayed If Website Isn't Fixed

Monday, 04 Nov 2013 01:07 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus says if the Obamacare website isn't fixed by the deadline of Nov. 30, then Congress should move to delay the tax penalty against those who don't purchase health insurance.

"If it looks like Humpty Dumpty's not getting put back together, then maybe we should start thinking about delaying the penalties," the Montana Democrat and one of the key authors of the Affordable Care Act told Billings, Mont. radio station Newstalk 730 KYYA on Friday.

"It's not right to penalize people for mistakes that the government's made because the exchanges aren't working."

Baucus is holding a committee hearing with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius next week, and he said he will be asking for an explanation for all of the problems the new healthcare website is facing.

"You didn't tell us last time about these problems, so tell us this time," the Montana senator said he planned to ask. "What are the problems? We want to hear it straight. We want it unvarnished. We want all the facts, so we know what to deal with."

He said that he's "concerned and disappointed that earlier discussions [about technical and other issues with Obamacare rollout] have not been as forthcoming" as he would have liked.

"Maybe it's because she and others didn't know, but that in itself raises a question — why in the world didn't she know. That's her job to know," he added.

During a budget hearing with Sebelius in April, Baucus said he was afraid that the new healthcare law was going to be a "huge train wreck."

"I'm very concerned that not enough is being done so far — very concerned," Baucus said in April.

But the senator backtracked on his "train wreck" comments in September when he said he thought the White House was "doing a pretty good job" of getting the exchanges up and running.

"My number one goal is to get this thing fixed, then we'll figure out what went wrong," Baucus told the station.

Related Stories:

33 House Republicans Sign Letter Urging Obama to Make Sebelius Resign
Rep. Issa Subpoenas Sebelius for Obamacare Documents

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