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House passes bill requiring detailed, weekly Obamacare reports

- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2014

The House passed a bill Thursday that requires the federal government to deliver weekly reports on Obamacare enrollment and a range of other activities on the health care law's main website.

Republican leaders shepherded the Exchange Information Disclosure Act to passage, 259 to 154, with the help of more than 30 Democrats.

"This bill is fundamentally about transparency," Rep. Joe Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican, said during debate.

The legislation garnered about half the Democratic support of an Obamacare bill that past the chamber last week and requires the government to notify users within two days of any security breaches on websites tied to the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Lee Terry, Nebraska Republican, said he filed the reporting bill to shed light on the health care law's progress at a more detailed and frequent clip than what the Obama administration has provided to date.

The Department of Health and Human Services has issued three monthly reports on enrollment in private health plans and Medicaid in the 50 states since Oct. 1, when the administration and various states launched their new insurance markets.

The House bill would require weekly reports with more extensive data on website visits, account-creation, calls to help centers and problems that consumers encounter with Healthcare.gov.

The White House opposes the bill as burdensome. In debate, some Democrats agreed it was an attempt to saddle the Department of Health and Human Services with reporting requirements.

"This bill's requirements on the secretary go way above and beyond what I think is necessary and valuable information," said Rep. Frank Pallone, New Jersey Democrat.

He said HHS is gradually releasing more detailed information with each monthly report on enrollment in the 50 states.

Republicans said monthly reports are insufficient and tabulate enrollees based on their plan selections, even as Congress is left asking, "Who's paying?"

"We still don't know how many Americans have actually enrolled in health plans by paying their first month's premium," Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan Republican, said.

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