- - Monday, September 8, 2014

Earlier this month, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 64 percent of Americans are still feeling some impact from the recession. Those who were polled are acutely aware of the fact that they need to be careful with their spending. For example, if the roof needs a repair, the homeowner would not agree to a contract that stated the repair would happen, no matter what the cost.

Yet that is exactly what the Obama administration has done with the Obamacare website, Healthcare.gov.

A new report from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General found that between January 2009 and January 2014, the administration issued 60 contracts to build the Healthcare.gov website. As of February 2014, the administration had paid out nearly $500 million for those contracts. To make matters worse, the taxpayers are on the hook for an additional $300 million — for a website that is still not working as it should.

The same report states that one-third of the contracts are over budget and seven of the contracts have already cost twice as much as originally planned.

Finally, an additional $90 million contract was awarded in January 2014 to another contractor to fix what the original contractors did not build. In other words, the roof is still leaking. and the taxpayers are still paying, with no end in sight

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) places the responsibility for the cost overruns with the Obama administration. The GAO reported that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services undertook the development of Healthcare.gov “without effective planning or oversight practices.” The report also found that as the Oct. 1, 2013 deadline approached, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services identified “significant performance issues, but took only limited steps to hold the contractor accountable.”

In my metaphor, the leaking roof is the website, Healthcare.gov. Unfortunately, Healthcare.gov is a metaphor for the entire Obamacare law.

Supporters of Obamacare are not nearly as confident as they have been in the past, and they have good reason not to be. They touted that if we read the bill, we would know what was in it. They promised health care for people who were not currently receiving it. They also promised that annual health insurance premiums for families would decrease by $2,500.

We have read the bill, and because of unilateral decisions made by the president, we still don’t know all that is coming.

We were told that more than 8 million people “signed up” for Obamacare in the first enrollment period. The Obama administration’s own report on May 1 cast doubt on the validity of that number. The report states that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not have comprehensive data about the number of individuals who actually enrolled and paid their first month’s premium. As I have said many times, having an insurance card is not the same thing as having health care.

The promised health care has not been forthcoming. Constituents continually tell us that Obamacare, even with subsidies, is more expensive than they can afford. We hear that deductibles and coinsurance have gone up, leaving people with higher out-of-pocket expenses. Finally, we have heard that people have been to the doctor and had a test ordered only to find out that the out-of-pocket expense for the test was too high, and they decided not to have the care that the doctor prescribed. Once again, it’s an example of having an insurance card is not the same thing as having health care.

We know the insurance companies who are providing Obamacare in Tennessee have asked for insurance rate hikes of 19 percent for 2015.

The Obamacare roof is not only leaking, it is collapsing.

That is why Republicans have introduced legislation to replace this terrible law. It’s legislation that will provide affordable care for patients, return decision-making to the patient and his doctor, and prevent insurance companies from going back to the practices of cancellations and refusing to insure those with pre-existing conditions. These are ideas we can all get behind.

Marsha Blackburn is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Tennessee.

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