Fred Upton

House committee grills Sebelius on Obamacare implementation, website problems

Kathleen Sebelius

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee got their chance to ask embattled Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the disastrous rollout of the federal Obamacare exchange website,, and other issues that have arisen in recent days with the law.

“The Energy and Commerce Committee welcomes the President’s point person on healthcare, Secretary Sebelius, as part of our continuing oversight of the healthcare law and we look forward to a thoughtful conversation on a number of issues, including transparency and fairness,” said Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) in his prepared opening remarks.

“Super Committee” members named

All of the Members of Congress that will serve on the so-called “Super Committee,” the group created as part of the debt deal between the White House and Congress to find $1.5 trillion in “deficit reduction” in the coming months, have been made public:

The top Republicans in the House and the Senate appointed six more lawmakers on Wednesday to the bipartisan committee that is supposed to recommend steps to reduce federal budget deficits by at least $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

Speaker John A. Boehner chose three senior Republican House members: Jeb Hensarling of Texas, and Dave Camp and Fred Upton, both of Michigan.

Mr. Hensarling, who is chairman of the House Republican Conference, will be co-chairman of the new panel, along with Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington.

The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, chose Senators Jon Kyl of Arizona, Rob Portman of Ohio and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania for the 12-member panel.

As noted, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who hasn’t been one to restrain spending, was named by Senate Majority Harry Reid. She will serve with Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Max Baucus (D-MT). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi named her picks today:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has selected Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) for the so-called “supercommittee” on Thursday.

Report: Just 67 percent of federal Obamacare exchange signups have actually paid

A report released yesterday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee finds that just 67 percent of people who signed up for health insurance coverage on the federal Obamacare exchange have actually paid their first month’s premium.

The committee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), requested specific enrollment data in March from each of the health insurance companies participating in the federal exchange, including age demographic breakdowns and the number of paid enrollments. The data show that out of the 3.65 signups through the exchange, just 2.45 million (67 percent of all signups) had paid their first month’s premium through April 15.

“In a sad reversal away from its vows of transparency, the Obama administration, from inside the Oval Office on down, has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep basic details of the health law from the public,” Upton said in a press release. “Tired of receiving incomplete pictures of enrollment in the health care law, we went right to the source and found that the administration’s recent declarations of success may be unfounded.”

President Barack Obama declared last month that 8 million people had signed up for coverage through the state and federal Obamacare exchanges in the extended open enrollment period. The administration has not yet released figures to show how many of these purported enrollments have actually been paid.

House passes Keep Your Health Plan Act, Obama threatens veto

Keep Your Health Plan Act

In a 261-257 vote, the House of Representatives passed the Keep Your Health Plan Act, which would allow insurers to extend the policies that had been canceled because they didn’t comply with the mandates and provisions of Obamacare.

The Keep Your Health Plan Act, sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), would permit insurers to let consumers keep health plans in effect before January 1, 2013 through 2014. It wouldn’t force insurers to offer the plans, but it would give these plans “grandfathered status,” meaning that they wouldn’t have to compliant with Obamacare’s minimum mandates.

“The president broke his word, had a chance to fix the problem, and only did more damage to his credibility,” said Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) after the passage of the measure. “Today, the House made a big, bipartisan statement about the need to make things right.”

“The Keep Your Health Plan Act represents an important step toward providing relief to those who have lost their plans and face much higher premiums, but the real solution is to scrap the president’s fundamentally-flawed health care law and focus on effective, patient-centered reforms that will protect all Americans from this train wreck,” he added.

The measure would also allow insurers to extend coverage under these plans to new customers, which Democrats complained would undercut the Obamacare.

Thirty-nine House Democrats broke with President Obama and party leaders and supported the measure. Four Republicans voted against it, one of whom was Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), who explained his vote on his Facebook page.

Obama announces “administrative fix” for Obamacare

President Barack Obama bowed to pressure from congressional Democrats worried about the impact that insurance cancellations could have in the 2014 mid-term election by announcing an “administrative fix” to the law.

“Already people who have plans that pre-date the Affordable Care Act can keep those plans if they haven’t changed. That was already in the law. That’s what’s called a grandfather clause that was included in the law,” President Obama told reporters at the White House.

“Today we’re going to extend that principle both to people whose plans have changed since the law too effect and to people who bought plans since the law took effect,” he said. “[I]nsurers can extend current plans that would otherwise be cancelled into 2014. And Americans whose plans have been cancelled can choose to re-enroll in the same kind of plan.”

The administrative fix, which will be carried out through regulatory fiat, will let insurers continue to offer plans already in effect that are slated to be canceled at the end of the year, if they so choose. It would also require insurers to let inform consumers about plans available on the federal and state exchanges.

House GOP should tread carefully with Obamacare

The insurance cancellation letters that millions of Americans have received, and millions more can expect to get, have created an understandable raucous in Congress. Members are receiving angry calls from constituents and vulnerable supporters of the law are looking for a way to save face now that President Barack Obama’s promise that Americans could keep their health plans has been broken.

Contrary to President Obama’s claims of inadequate coverage, the reason the administration wrote the “grandfathered plan” regulations, which are responsible for the cancellations, was ultimately metrics. The greater number of cancellations, the more consumers would go to the exchange for coverage.

To date, there have been at least three separate measures proposed that purport to mitigate this adverse effect of Obamacare, but only two have any serious chance of passage:

House will vote next week on Keep Your Health Plan Act

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has announced that the House of Representatives will vote next week on a measure that would allow Americans to keep their health insurance coverage amid a flood millions of cancellation notices.

“Next week, the House will consider the Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013, sponsored by ,” Cantor tweeted on Wednesday, later promoting a tweet from the House Energy and Commerce Committee that said the measure “will allow health care plans currently being offered to continue next year, providing choices [and] peace of mind.”

The Keep Your Health Plan Act, H.R. 3350, seeks to stem the insurance cancellations that many Americans are now experiencing because the plans weren’t compliant with the Obamacare’s very strict “grandfathered plan” regulations. The bill currently has 88 co-sponsors, all of whom are Republicans.

Sebelius to testify on ObamaCare website

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has agreed to testify next Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the horribly botched rollout of the federal ObamaCare exchange website:

Embattled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify before Congress next week about the botched rollout of ObamaCare’s insurance exchanges after rejecting GOP demands to appear this week.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee confirmed Monday night that Sebelius would meet with the committee next Wednesday.

The notice capped a day of wrangling between Sebelius and congressional Republicans who repeatedly attacked her for rejecting calls to testify at a Thursday hearing.
the fight over when Sebelius would testify hampered the Obama administration’s effort Monday to regain control of the narrative surrounding ObamaCare, which has turned sharply negative because of the problems people have faced in enrolling online for health insurance.

The pressure seems likely to increase with Republicans making her the face of the dysfunctional rollout.

House committee to probe ObamaCare implementation, Sebelius refuses to attend hearing

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will this week begin looking into the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its very large role in implementing the federal ObamaCare health insurance exchange,, which was launched early this month in an embarrassing fashion.

Since launching on October 1, the federal exchange has been plagued by glitches and errors, making the experience very frustrating for many users. The lack of server capacity, faulty design and software, and a strategic decision to put income verification at the start of the enrollment process have all been cited as reasons for the programs.

These problems have led to lower than expected enrollment numbers, though the Obama Administration won’t confirm how many people have actually enrolled in a health insurance plan through the exchanges. The embarrassing role out also seriously contradicts claims made by the administration and contracted companies working to implement the exchanges.

Liberty Links: Morning Reads for Thursday, January 13th

Below is a collection of several links that we didn’t get around to writing about, but still wanted to post for readers to examine. The stories typically range from news about prominent figures in the liberty movement, national politics, the nanny state, foreign policy and free markets.

The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.