Lipinski seeks GAO probe of Obamacare website
By Phil Kadner
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) is asking the Government Accountability Office to assess the effectiveness of the website for the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.
Although President Barack Obama has indicated most of the major glitches with the website have been fixed, Lipinski seems to question the veracity of the administration when it comes to assessing its health care reform plan.
“An independent analysis of the functionality of the website is clearly warranted when millions of Americans are being required to use either healthcare.gov to purchase a health plan or pay a penalty,” Lipinski states in a news release. “I did not vote for the Affordable Care Act, but I am committed to doing everything I can to fix the multiple problems with it.”
The Government Accountability Office is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. GAO investigates how the government spends taxpayer dollars.
In a letter to GAO Comptroller Gene Dodaro, Lipinski and nine other Democratic members of Congress ask GAO to answer a number of questions about the effectiveness of the website.
Among the questions:
“What metrics is the administration using to determine that the healthcare.gov website is operating as intended?
“Is the administration meeting these benchmarks?
“How does the healthcare.gov website perform compared to comparably complex web-based systems, including private market individual insurance exchanges?
“How secure is an individuals’s information on the website?”
“How well is relevant information being transferred to insurance providers?
“Will individuals who have purchased insurance through the website receive their insurance coverage and benefits as expected?”
“Despite assurance that healthcare.gov has been fixed after the disastrous rollout, significant concerns still remain. Reports suggest that there are still issues with waiting times and system glitches that are making it difficult for some people to sign up for a health care plan,” Lipinski says in the release.
“In addition, critical parts of the system still have not been built, and insurers may not be receiving correct information about the individuals and families who have enrolled in their plans.”
Last week, insurance providers complained that the nightly enrollment forms sent to them from the government often contain inaccurate and incomplete information.
It’s estimated that one-third of the individuals who have signed up for the plans since Oct. 1 have experienced a problem. Although the White House has claimed those figures are overstated, it has not supplied its numbers.
This problem is in addition to the multiple shutdowns of the website after ObamaCare was rolled out, which resulted in the inability of most consumers to sign up for health insurance.
Republicans have criticized the Affordable Care Act and attempted to withdraw its funding since its inception.
But Obama may have done more harm to his administration and the hopes of congressional Democrats to get re-elected next year than the Tea Party and its leaders.
With three years to prepare for the rollout of his administration’s signature accomplishment, the president has admitted that he was not kept abreast of problems with the website as they developed.
In fact, it appears as if he did not want to know, or simply assumed that one of the most complex government programs in U.S. history, heavily reliant on computer technology, would come off without a hitch.
As anyone who has ever worked in an office that installed a new computer system could’ve told him, “Nothing’s going to work the way you hoped.”
Because many of the so-called front-end problems with the computer system have been fixed (at least the system is up and running most of the time), there is a new focus on the back end of the system.
The Washington Post reported that there have been failures to notify insurers about new customers, duplicate enrollment and cancellation notices for the same person have been sent out and incorrect information about family members has been recorded.
And there are still reports that people are having difficulty logging onto the healthcare.gov site — even as the administration has stepped up its consumer awareness campaign to improve registration numbers.
Conservative Republicans have ridiculed their Democratic colleagues in Congress for doing too little too late to make sure the Affordable Care Act was rolled out effectively.
And it does seem to me that, to a great extent, most members of the Democratic Party sat back and left all the details of implementation in the hands of the Obama administration.
And Republicans are downright gleeful that a plan designed to insure millions of previously uninsured American has become a boondoggle.
The Democrats co-signing the letter to the GAO with Lipinski are House members Krysten Sinema and Ron Barber, of Arizona, Pete Gallego and Filemon Vela, of Texas, Scott Peters (Calif.), Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), Ann McLane Kuster (N.H.), Patrick Murphy (Fla.) and John Barrow (Ga.).
Lipinski has staked out a position as a sort of maverick in Congress, often working with Republicans on legislation. But I doubt that Americans are going to give any Democrats a pass for the health care fiasco.
The biggest problem with government is the lack of accountability. While there are plenty of elected officials prepared to take credit for anything that goes right, few are willing to accept responsibility when things go wrong.
I don’t blame Lipinski or the other congressmen at this point for demanding an independent audit of the health care plan.
But other than shouting “fire,” I didn’t see anyone act in a constructive fashion to prevent this fiasco from occurring.
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