The rocky rollout of Obamacare may be a crisis for the president, but to Republican eyes, it's an opportunity: one more chance to derail the commander-in-chief’s signature piece of legislation.
Shortly after President Obama announced his plan to fix a series of embarrassing issues in the Affordable Care Act, Republicans pointed to his remarks as proof that the president has been lying to the American people.
House Speaker Boehner released a statement after Obama’s news conference insisting Obama had “finally acknowledged he repeatedly misled the American people to sell his health care law.” The Ohio Republican said Obama’s fix is a “political response designed to shift blame rather than solve the problem. This problem cannot be papered over by another ream of Washington regulations. Americans losing their coverage because of the president’s health care law need clear, unambiguious legislation that guarantees the plan they have and like will still be allowed.”
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa asked, “What will it take for the president to admit the law isn’t working and at least call for a full delay?”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas released a statement saying “We cannot ‘fix’ Obamacare. The damage has been done, as millions of Americans have already been made to pay higher premiums, and lose their jobs, wages and health care plans.”
Before the president spoke, Cruz, who was attending the Aspen Institute’s Washington Ideas Forum, said he’d continue to fight the law. “I think stopping Obamacare is the essence of pragmatism,” he said. He argued that Americans are starting to understand why he spearheaded a strategy to defund Obamacare.
"A few weeks ago there were lots of people--particularly in Washington--that were saying, 'Why are you guys fighting so hard on this?' And with just the passage of a few weeks, people aren't asking that anymore," said Cruz. He said those who teamed up with him are feeling “vindication” in light of the problems ACA is facing.
GOP strategist Karl Rove and former top adviser to President George W. Bush argued in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal that Obamacare forces millions of Americans into “bells-and-whistles” coverage they don’t need. He called Obama’s previous apologies “nonsense.”
"The Affordable Care Act was designed to make unavailable health-insurance policies that didn't include its extensive, expensive, and often unnecessary provisions," Rove argued.
During Obama’s conference, Rove tweeted a link to a YouTube video featuring a montage of clips in which the president tells Americans they can keep their health care plans.
And Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus also called for Obamacare to be repealed and replaced with “conservative solutions,” although he did not offer any specific plan. Obama, he argued, “rushed a partisan bill through Congress, lied in selling it to the public, and the result is his administration’s bungled rollout that is causing chaos and hurting Americans.”
The glitch-filled insurance marketplace, HealthCare.gov, is expected to be fixed at the end of the month, though there are reports that it may be delayed even further.
That problem has been coupled with insurance companies sending cancellation notices to their customers because their coverage does not meet ACA’s stricter standards.Under the new rules, insurance companies can continue offering plans that don't meet the higher ACA standard to current policyholders for another year. But the companies must tell Americans who are re-enrolling that their plans don’t meet ACA requirements and give information about better options.
Obama made a significant (and avoidable) mistake by repeatedly promising Americans that if they liked their plans, they could keep them. But forcing Americans who have no health insurance or shoddy health insurance to get more comprehensive coverage under Obamacare is not a bug--it's a key feature. It might have been an unpopular aspect of the law in any case, but the bad website and broken promises made it a big fat target for Republican attacks.