Lipinski introduces bill on ACA
The Beverly Review
Concerned about the ongoing technical difficulties and malfunctions with the Web site healthcare.gov, the Affordable Care Act’s federal marketplace Internet site, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) introduced legislation on Oct. 30 that will extend the deadline for people enrolling in a healthcare plan.
The Health Care Access Fairness and Penalty Delay Act would require the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to certify when the healthcare.gov Web site is fully operational and allow people up to 90 days from that date to enroll in a plan. The legislation would also prohibit penalties from commencing until 120 days after the Web site is deemed functional.
In an early morning visit to the 103rd Street Metra station on Nov. 1, Lipinski said he is aware of the frustration that many of his constituents have experienced as they attempt to shop for health insurance and enroll in a new plan, as required for people who are currently uninsured.
Lipinski said he is using the District of Columbia small-business marketplace to shop for his healthcare plan, and has experienced similar frustrations.
“I signed up on Monday, and the next day I was unable to log in,” Lipinski said. “I thought I had the wrong password, but it appears it was a glitch in the system.”
While Lipinski did not vote for the Affordable Care Act, he said, he believes it is important to work for its success now that it is law. Contrary to proposals made by House Republicans and some Democrats that call for a one-year delay in the individual mandate, Lipinski said, it is necessary for people to enroll as soon as the Web site is functional.
“Time is important because you need people to sign up for it in order for it to work,” Lipinski said. “You need 7 million people, including the young and healthy, for the economics to work. A poorly-functioning Web site is a disincentive for them to sign up.”
Acknowledging that the rollout of the Affordable Care Act has been “a huge undertaking,” Lipinski said it is unacceptable that the administration and its contractors produced a Web site with so many problems.
“There wasn’t a lead contractor—the lead was HHS—and there were different contractors doing different pieces. There are bugs in separate pieces, and then there were bugs in bringing it all together,” he said. “Things were done late because the rules and regulations were late, and then things stalled around election time. I think the idea of one-stop shopping is a great idea, but there’s no question that the whole system needs to be more efficient.”
Should the administration meet its goal of healthcare.gov being fully functional by Nov. 30, Lipinski said, none of the deadlines would be changed.
Although 2013 is not an election year, Lipinski said he is visiting with constituents at train stations throughout his district to connect with people face to face.
“I have an office for constituent services,” Lipinski said. “I wanted to bring the office out here to hear what people are concerned and talking about.”
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