House Republicans plan votes on Obamacare measures

Among the first votes of the new year, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will vote either today or tomorrow on a pair of bills dealing security and transparency as it relates to the federal Obamacare exchange website, Healthcare.gov (emphasis added):

The House is rounding out its first week back after the holidays with a pair of votes Friday aimed at the security and functionality of HealthCare.gov. It’s a jab at the Obama administration after the website launch fiasco and follows repeated Republican criticisms about what they say was inadequate testing of the website security. It’s a strategy that’s likely to play out from now right up until the midterm elections.

One bill offered by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) would require the Department of Health and Human Services to notify Americans within two days if their personal information has been compromised on the new insurance exchanges. The other, sponsored by Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), would require the administration to publicize weekly reports detailing the performance of the federal website.
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Republicans’ new year’s Obamacare energy is reminiscent of 2011, when they kicked off the year by voting to ditch the whole law. But the tone is different this year, now that the law is a reality and not just an impending change.

Republicans say now they can respond to specific problems with the law — instead of just trying to scrap it all. The votes this week, for instance, don’t repeal or defund all or part of the health law, as a few dozen prior House votes did.

Interestingly, Politico noted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) won’t bring these two measures up for a vote if they pass the House. But one House Democrat suggested that both pieces of legislation could get support from members of his party.

Some may say that this proves Republicans have given up on trying to takedown Obamacare. Don’t read that much into it. What it boils down to is that Republicans, unfortunately, don’t have the votes to repeal or delay all or part of the law in the Senate.

The security issues with the federal Obamacare exchange website have been well-documented, and it’s unclear whether they’ve been resolved. One white hat hacker explained in late-November that users’ personal information was at risk, noting that “security wasn’t built into” the website.

And while the website is performing better than it did in the first two months of the open enrollment period, transparency is also an important, common sense issues upon which Congress should insist to keep the administration accountable.

By focusing on measures like this, Republicans can keep very serious issues surrounding the federal exchange, like security and performance, in the news while reminding Americans that the rollout of the law was a complete disaster.

 


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