Today Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provided testimony for the Affordable Health Care Act implementation to the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce. Sebelius testified that the Health Insurance Marketplace, provision of the Affordable Healthcare Act, was launched on October 1, 2013, and the access through healthcare.gov has not met expectations. Consumers can access the Marketplace through submitting a paper application (in-person assistance is available), calling the call center or online through healthcare.gov.
Although 700,000 applications have been submitted to federal and state Marketplaces, 20 million visits have been recorded to healthcare.gov. There have been problems with accessing healthcare.gov. The reasons provided are mismanagement of private sector contractors building the site, system stress from volume traffic and technical programming detail such as unable to register or unable to login after registering. Improvements to the site are ongoing but new codes for bug fixes and removal of the virtual waiting room have already been implemented. Jeff Zients, CEO and acting Director of U.S. Office of Management and Budget, was just appointed by President Obama to get the website running for the six month open enrollment period with projections of complete resolution by the end of November.
Debate continues over the passing of the Affordable Healthcare Act (also known as Obamacare) and state versus federal rights. The Affordable Healthcare Act was signed into law by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court, yet the House and Senate have the responsibility to enact laws. The Supreme Court also upheld that states could opt out of Obamacare, but the federal government has determined that they may withhold up to $500 million in funding to these states. Doctors do not have to accept the expanded Medicaid funding. The House and Senate could stop the Affordable Health Care Act if they refuse to fund it.
The Affordable Healthcare Act is for people without coverage, people that cannot afford coverage and are not on a group plan can obtain health insurance coverage. Kathleen Sebelius included other benefits of the Affordable Healthcare Act in her testimony:
“Most Americans—85 percent—already have health coverage through an employer-based plan, or health benefit, such as Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). For these Americans, the Affordable Care Act provides new benefits and protections, many of which have been in place for some time. For example, because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of young adults have been able to stay on their parents’ plans until they are 26. Because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors on Medicare receive greater coverage of their prescription medicine, saving them billions. Because of the Affordable Care Act, for millions of Americans, recommended preventive care like mammograms is free through employer-sponsored health coverage.”
See the attached video for clips from the testimony.
For the full testimony visit docs.house.gov
For enrollment into the Affordable Healthcare Act visit: healthcare.gov
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