Skip to main content

GOP: Website woes create fresh opening to go after Obamacare

By Deirdre Walsh, CNN Senior Congressional Producer
updated 8:30 PM EDT, Wed October 23, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Republican House leaders expect Obamacare website problems to be fixed soon
  • They want broader attack on health care law, focus on real-world impact on Americans
  • GOP members plan to highlight promises made by President Barack Obama in pushing for law
  • They say pressure from Democrats will make things tougher on the White House

(CNN) -- Even though polls show House Republicans got much of the blame for the government shutdown triggered by the fight over Obamacare, there are no signs they are giving up on that fight.

GOP, Boehner take shutdown hit in CNN poll

With fresh data and the acknowledgment from President Barack Obama that the web portal to enroll in new health care plans isn't working, Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders told House Republicans on Wednesday the website's bumpy rollout gives them an opening to seize public attention.

Obamacare website developers: It's not our fault

Dean: Rules could change with Obamacare
HHS Sec. Sebelius in the hot seat
Sen. Alexander on Obamacare problems
Huntsman: This is beyond politics

Sebelius on the spot in Obamacare website fiasco

But according to several GOP sources present at the weekly GOP meeting, leaders said they expected the administration would fix those so-called technical "glitches" soon, so House Republicans need to cast the debate more broadly and hone in on the real-world impact that the law is having on Americans.

"At some point the website is going to be working and Obamacare isn't," one senior GOP source who attended the meeting told CNN.

Utah GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz told CNN the plan going forward was "let's continue the vigorous oversight of Obamacare. It's not just about the website -- it's about a lot of other fundamental flaws."

After meeting with his members, Boehner reinforced that message to reporters.

"When you look at the problems with Obamacare all the focus here lately has been on the website. Clearly there's problems with the website, but I would argue that the problems go much further than that," Boehner said.

Several House Republicans said they plan to demonstrate how the law isn't living up to the goals the President set out when he pushed to create it in 2009.

"You have to start with all the promises that President Obama made to the American people -- it's going to lower costs; if you like what you have, you can keep it; it's going to reduce the deficit," said Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana.

He argued those promises "are being broken on a daily basis and families are finding out about it and they are demanding that serious questions be asked and we're here to ask those questions."

Asked about his legislative strategy in the aftermath of the fight over defunding or delaying Obamacare as part of the government funding bill, Boehner stressed "the biggest part of Congress' job is to provide proper oversight of the executive branch of government" and noted "when it comes to Obamacare, clearly there's an awful lot that needs to be held accountable."

Understanding Obamacare site glitches
State success in Obamacare program
Governor: Obamacare is going to work

House Republicans are also renewing their push to delay the Obamacare tax that will be imposed on those who fail to enroll in health care coverage by the deadline at the end of March.

Under the law those who don't sign up will be hit with a penalty on their tax returns of up to 1% of their income.

"With so many unanswered questions and the problems arising around this rollout, it doesn't make any sense to impose this 1% mandate tax on the American people," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters Wednesday.

During negotiations earlier this month with Obama over extending the nation's debt limit Boehner said Republicans would only be open to a one-year extension if the President agreed to delay this health insurance penalty for one year.

Those negotiations fell apart, but one GOP aide told CNN that continued news coverage about the problems people are finding getting signed up will increase pressure on the White House to agree at least temporarily waive this penalty.

And House Republican aides point out that political pressure from members of the President's own party will only make it tougher for the administration to continue resisting a delay for the mandate tax.

New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has called for an extension for the enrollment period. Twenty-two House Democrats already voted to delay the mandate on individuals to sign up for health care coverage, and some of those members -- like Georgia Rep. John Barrow -- are beginning to publicly call on the administration to agree to delay that requirement.

Dem senator asks Obama to delay Obamacare deadline

Sebelius: We are not at all satisfied
Sebelius: This will be fixed

In addition to focusing on oversight, House Republicans created a website to collect stories from people who are dealing with problems related to Obamacare.

Aides say the common complaints they want to explore in the coming weeks include rate spikes for young women, and reports about people already insured getting letters informing them they are losing their health care coverage because of Obamacare.

CNN Fact Check: Obamacare

Some House Republicans are quick to stress they don't want to get in another fight that triggers another government shutdown, but believe it's their job to address the problems their constituents are experiencing as Obamacare goes into effect.

"I'm not a part of the 'Hell no' caucus on either the Democrat or Republican side that wants to shut this place down," Florida Republican Rep. Trey Radel told CNN. "What I want to do is be more responsible to the American people and find out ways - if this is the law of the land - how do we make it as efficient as possible for the American people?"

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Tue October 29, 2013
Nationally, consumers are learning a number of well-known hospitals won't accept insurance under Obamacare.
updated 1:16 PM EST, Mon December 23, 2013
Open enrollment started October 1. Here's a step-by-step guide to navigating the insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges.
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Tue October 22, 2013
A host of issues have plagued the highly anticipated launch, making it difficult for both consumers and insurance providers.
updated 4:37 AM EDT, Sat October 19, 2013
Obamacare has survived a Supreme Court appeal, a government shutdown and ongoing challenges by opposing politicians. With few exceptions, every American must have health insurance by March 31 or pay a penalty fee.
updated 10:44 AM EDT, Thu September 26, 2013
If you don't know what all those health insurance buzz-words like "co-pay" and "premium" mean, you're not alone.
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Wed October 2, 2013
Obamacare is expected to increase demand for medical services. That, plus a shortage of doctors, may mean the appointment has to wait.
updated 11:57 AM EDT, Wed October 2, 2013
Lauren Zanardelli and Graham Foster are the kind of customers the government needs to make Obamacare work.
updated 11:33 AM EDT, Sun August 11, 2013
Reince Priebus said the GOP will campaign against what he describes as "European, socialist healthcare" in the upcoming election.
It's a popular assertion, but is it true? The CNN Politics team hunts down the facts.
Our map shows which states have expanded Medicaid and includes links to marketplace options.
Some may offer help navigating the new health insurance marketplace for a fee. Others will warn that you will need a new Medicare card.
updated 12:57 PM EDT, Mon September 30, 2013
Who's in, who's out... and what about the costs? CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta breaks down Obamacare.
Consumers can avoid the exchanges by buying plans directly from insurers or through brokers. But should they?
Here's the first look at insurance premiums on 36 exchanges run by the federal government.
updated 10:46 AM EDT, Wed September 25, 2013
If we want to be realistic about health care reform, we have to acknowledge that everything comes with a tradeoff, Dr. Aaron E. Carroll says.
Check out our page with all things you need to know about Obamacare and how it will affect you.
ADVERTISEMENT