The Republican House Committee on Energy and Commerce held what was billed as a hearing on the roll out of Obamacare Thursday. The highlight of the several-hour “hearing” was a heated exchange where a Congressman from New Jersey said “No I will not yield to this monkey court or whatever you call it.”
Congressman Frank Pallone, Democrat of New Jersey made the remarks in response to interrogation of one of the contractors who designed the healthcare.gov website by two Republicans on the committee. Representative Joe Barton, Republican of Texas, was the second Representative on the committee who accused a witness of “HIPPAA violations.” The HIPPAA law prohibits the release of anyone’s health information without that person’s written permission.
Barton warned the contractor that the Obamacare Exchange website they designed was getting information from patients and making it public without permission.
“We’re telling every American if you sign up for this, or you even attempt to sign up, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy,” Barton said. “That is a direct contradiction of HIPAA, and you know it. Are you aware this was in the source code? Do you think that’s HIPAA compliant?” Barton asked. “Admit it! You’re under oath.” He then asked her if this was “American.”
“That is a CMS call,” the witness replied. “That is not a contractor call.”
Barton’s approach of making an ignorant and erroneous statement under the guise of a question angered Rep. Pallone. “You are trying to scare people so they won’t apply,” he said, adding that he believes the Republicans’ true purpose is to undermine people’s trust in the new health-care law so that it has to be delayed or repealed. He was asked to yield and he responded that he would not yield to this “monkey court.”
Congressman Pallone and other Democrats attempted to educate Rep. Barton on what HIPPAA covers. They pointed out that there is no medical information asked of any applicant on the website because Obamacare outlaws pre-existing conditions. There is no longer a need to ask applicants page after page of medial history to determine if they can get insured, or at what cost. Apparently Barton and his colleagues read Republican talking points long known to be thin on facts.
What is more disturbing about the so-called “monkey court” is the hypocrisy of Republicans who are expressing total outrage over the glitches and slowness of the website.
Two of the loudest mouths on the committee, Rep. Barton and Murphy, Republican of Pennsylvania, found the glitches unacceptable and said they were grounds to scrap the entire Affordable Car Act law. However, both of these guys, and many of their outraged colleagues, are on tape making excuses for the same kind of computer glitches during the rollout of President Bush’s Medicare Part D in 2006. Glitches in that rollout prevented hundreds of thousands of seniors from getting their prescriptions filled for several weeks.
Barton and Murphy and others gave interview after interview in 2006 saying anytime something this big is rolled out there are “bound to be glitches” and everyone should just shut up and give it a couple months to get fixed. Apparently to Republicans, the race and/or party affiliation of the president is what determines when a glitch is normal or outrageous.
Beyond that, the hypocrisy of Republicans on this issue is laughable. No Republican voted for Obamacare. Republicans have voted unsuccessfully 44 or more times to repeal Obamacare. They found the law so “un-American” they closed down the entire government; and 58% of Republicans voted to force the government default on our debt just to de-fund Obamacare. Now, they are outraged that people can’t buy it fast enough.
Anyone who thinks that these Republicans will not put the nation through the same economic calamity in January is delusional. Obamacare is the only issue Republicans have. Killing it is all they stand for. They will not allow another opportunity to de-fund Obamacare pass when the budget and the debt ceiling come back up for a vote in January. Their feigned outrage over the website is just political theater. Their penchant for destroying our economy is real.