Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II said Saturday in the weekly GOP address that the rollout of President Obama’s health care overhaul has been a “national embarrassment” and lambasted the law itself as an affront to liberty and “the hallmark of a federal government that has lost its way.”
Mr. Cuccinelli, who is running to be Virginia’s next governor this year, was the first state attorney general to file suit over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act when it was passed three-and-a-half years ago. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the crux of the law, commonly referred to as Obamacare, in June 2012.
But Mr. Cuccinelli says he still believes it to be unconstitutional.
“During the debate over this law, citizens in the Commonwealth were told they could easily access information about their health care choices and join the system, well that proved to be untrue,” he said. “They were told their premiums wouldn’t increase, that proved to be false. And they were told they could keep access to their insurance and their doctors, and that proved to be downright dishonest.
The GOP’s focus on Obamacare in the address comes days after the federal government re-opened following an ultimately fruitless effort by some Congressional Republicans to defund or delay parts of the law. But its rollout on Oct. 1 has also been plagued with glitches and false starts, and many would-be users have been unable to successfully sign up for insurance through healthcare.gov.
“President Obama’s ideas are deeply flawed and the implementation of this law has been a national embarrassment,” Mr. Cuccinelli said. “Let me be plain, the law that carries the President’s name is the hallmark of a reckless federal government that has lost its way.”
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has scheduled a hearing on the problems for next Thursday. The White House has said that the people responsible for correcting the issues are hard at work doing so.
But Mr. Cuccinelli said that “we can do better.”
“We need to provide flexibility and choice within our health care system,” he said. “Our citizens shouldn’t be forced to choose insurance providers and doctors who’ve been preselected by government bureaucrats. We need to open up the insurance market and allow cross state purchase of insurance to drive competition and lower premiums.”
Health care is playing a significant role in Mr. Cuccinelli’s race in Virginia against Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Mr. McAuliffe supports the provision in Obamacare that expands Medicaid the federal-state program that provides health insurance to the elderly and the poor. The 2012 Supreme Court ruling made the expansion optional for states.
The expansion could extend coverage to approximately 400,000 low-income adults in the state. The federal government picks up 100 percent of the cost through 2017 - a subsidy that eventually drops to 90 percent.
Mr. McAuliffe has billed the expansion as a job creator in addition to the coverage aspects. But Mr. Cuccinelli, citing discussions he’s had with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, has said there’s no conceivable way the federal government will live up to its end of the bargain and that Mr. McAuliffe’s economic extrapolations are wildly optimistic.
“Obamacare serves as a grave threat to the future prosperity of the citizens of Virginia, and I’ll continue to resist expanding it,” Mr. Cuccinelli said. “Not just in Washington, but in every state in America. I promise that I’ll do my part in Virginia, and I know you’ll do yours. Together we can make America better tomorrow than it is today.”