US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

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Alexander to Introduce Bill Requiring Weekly Reports on Obamacare Exchanges

Bill would require administration to reveal data on exchange enrollment and website problems to public, Congress, and states

Tuesday, October 22, 2013Liz Wolgemuth 202-228-4729

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“No more hiding the damage of the train wreck—Americans are on this train.” – Lamar Alexander

KNOXVILLE, Oct. 22 – The senior Republican on the Senate health committee today announced on a Knoxville radio show that he will introduce a bill requiring the administration to provide weekly reports to Congress and to states with data about Obamacare enrollment, efforts to resolve the site’s technological problems, and information about organizations contracted as navigators.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said of his legislation: “As millions of Americans have sat frustrated at their computers and on their phones, wasting hours trying to fulfill the Obamacare mandate and enroll in the exchanges, the administration has refused to provide critical information about what’s going wrong, or has dribbled out news through anonymous statements to reporters. This bill will require the administration to be honest and transparent with the public, governors overseeing state exchanges, state consumer protection regulators, and decisionmakers in Congress. No more hiding the damage of the train wreck—Americans are on this train.”

The bill would require the Obama administration to provide weekly reports to Congress, states, and the public about the 36 federally run exchanges, including easily tracked data such as the number of individuals who have visited the site and the number who have successfully enrolled, their zip code, and the level of coverage they’ve obtained. The reports would also be required to contain information on the department’s efforts to resolve the site’s widespread technical problems.

Recent analysis by an outside firm found that traffic to the HealthCare.gov website fell 88 percent between Oct.1 and Oct. 13, as users were scared off by problems with the site, the Washington Post reported. Less than half of 1 percent of Americans who tried to use the site in the first week were able to successfully enroll, according to the Post.

Yet, as technological problems with the site prevent Americans from being able to satisfy the Obamacare individual mandate and purchase insurance, the administration has provided little to no information about the cause of the site’s problems and its efforts to resolve them, and has provided no information about who has successfully enrolled.

Senator Alexander recently called on the Obama administration to improve the way it provides information to Americans about Obamacare, saying, “This law is about as clear as mud, and instead of helping Americans understand their new obligations, the Obama administration has been burying important changes—not announcing them boldly as you’d expect an administration that’s proud of its new health care law to do. Americans deserve better from the officials who are so committed to implementing this train wreck of a law.”

He noted the requirement that Americans sign up for health insurance by mid-February to avoid the tax penalty was confirmed by an anonymous administration official to an AP reporter on October 9 and the revelation that problems with the federal exchange website were also due to a design failure that needed to be fixed was made to a Wall Street Journal reporter on Sunday, after the administration repeatedly told Americans that the problems were due to volume.

Alexander announced his legislation on the Knoxville area’s Hallerin Hilton Hill Morning Show.

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