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Obamacare Facing Slew of New Problems

By    |   Saturday, 29 November 2014 05:23 PM

The winter months are bringing a fresh set of challenges for the second season of Obamacare just as a new batch of potential customers are deciding whether to purchase their insurance through the nation's healthcare exchanges.

The enrollment period has gone much more smoothly this time around, after last year's HealthCare.gov debacle left potential customers confused, dismayed, and angry that they were not able to purchase insurance plans. But December is bringing a whole new set of program problems for the Obama administration, reports The Hill, and many may not be as easy to solve.

The year is ending with the Obama administration red-faced over statements made by Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, after videos surfaced of him claiming that a "lack of transparency" and the "stupidity" of the voters helped the administration push the healthcare reform through.

Democrats have insisted that Gruber wasn't as involved in developing Obamacare as earlier claims had portrayed. But the damage was done, and it will add fuel to Republicans' demands to replace or repeal the president's signature healthcare plan after they take office in January.

California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, the outgoing House Oversight Committee chairman, will question Gruber on Dec. 9 in one of his final hearings before he leaves office at the end of the year. Gruber's testimony may cause even more damage as Obama fights Republicans to keep his healthcare plan alive.

That same meeting will also include testimony from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. Oversight Democrats also plan to bring a witness of their own, reports The Hill, but one has yet been chosen.

Open enrollment also will be problematic this year, even though this fall's signup period has gone more smoothly and is proving to be a success for Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

But there is only a three-month period, which ends on Feb. 15, to bring in millions of new customers and encourage existing ones to re-enroll. There still remain problems with the back end of the website. It is partly unfinished, leaving insurers and officials to have to verify some applications by hand.

The administration is predicting only 9 to 9.9 million will sign up for insurance this year, falling far short of the 13 million the Congressional Budget office predicted.

It's not helping that a GOP probe found that HHS inflated enrollment figures by some 400,000 people after dental plans were tallied as medical coverage, reports Forbes, creating a black eye for Burwell and likely some embarrassing questions for Tavenner on Dec. 9 when she appears before Issa's committee.

The Obama administration is also facing more challenges from groups when it comes to the Obamacare birth control mandate, with religious organizations and businesses saying that the provision violates their faith.

More than 50 religious plaintiffs have already filed suit, and with hearings taking place in December, some court decisions may come down after the first of the year that go against the mandate.

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The winter months are bringing a fresh set of challenges for the second season of Obamacare, just as people are either deciding to purchase their insurance for the first time through the nation's healthcare exchanges or whether they want to enroll for another year. The...
obamacare, facing, new, problems
Saturday, 29 November 2014 05:23 PM
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