Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Oct. 5, 2013.
Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times/Redux

GOP lawmaker: New HHS chief will ‘spin the numbers’ on Obamacare


Republicans have a hard time believing the Obama administration reached its goal in signing up Americans for health insurance.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn became the latest Republican to question the enrollment numbers this weekend, saying that President Obama’s choice of Sylvia Burwell to replace outgoing Kathleen Sebelius at the Department of Health and Human Services has “elevated” Republican concerns about the Affordable Care Act. 

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“I think there are many of us and probably a bit of a growing consensus that they know they’ve got a math problem with ObamaCare,” Blackburn said on Face the Nation Sunday. “And the numbers are not going to work out so that the program is actuarially sound, and they’re going to have to have somebody to kind of spin the numbers.”

She added: “How many of these 7 million people have paid? How many actually signed up and paid and completed the process? How many got subsidies? How many are on Medicaid? How many are young?”

President Obama named Burwell, who currently serves as Director of the Office of Management and Budget, as his intended successor to replace resigning Sebelius Friday. News of Sebelius’ resignation broke just hours after she revealed during a Senate Finance Committee hearing Thursday that enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges was likely to surpass 7.5 million.

Blackburn did not question the 7.5 million number specifically, but questioned how many enrollees have followed through on signup by paying for their plans, along with the breakdown of those who signed up.

But other Republicans have accused Obama administration officials of “cooking the books” on Affordable Care Act sign up numbers, with talk beginning before the open enrollment period had ended. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso revealed his skepticism of enrollment more than a week ago. 

“I don’t think it means anything,” Barrasso told Fox News Sunday late last month. “They are cooking the books on this.”

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A growing chorus of conservatives are questioning the Affordable Care Act enrollment numbers, and some are even accusing the White House of spin.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz echoed Barrasso, also on Fox News, telling the hosts of Fox and Friends that “the [Obamacare] numbers are a bit of funny math.”

The talking point has been touted by conservative media power players like Sean HannityGlenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

Donald Trump echoed those sentiments over the weekend as well, openly questioning those numbers during an appearance at the “Freedom Summit” hosted by Citizens United and Americans for Prosperity Foundation.

“Obamacare is an absolute catastrophe,” he said. “It’s a disaster, it’s a disaster.”

“You know they say they had 7 million startups. Now does anybody really believe that?” he continued, inspiring a chorus of “no” from the audience. “Just an impossibility. It’s actually impossible.”

“Obamacare has been the single greatest lie that I’ve ever witnessed and I’ve been in politics and watching politics for a long time,” he added later. 


GOP lawmaker: New HHS chief will 'spin the numbers' on Obamacare