Politics still ripe as health enrollment begins

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As the next open enrollment period began on Sunday for the Obama health law, the Obama Administration was trying again to use this signup period to move on from previous troubles that have dogged the healthcare.gov website and prompted repeated efforts by Republicans to repeal the President’s signature legislative achievement.

“That’s right – November 1 marks the start of our third Open Enrollment,” said Health Secretary Sylvia Burwell, who spent much of the last week on the road urging Americans to “Get Covered” in the enrollment period that will last from November 1 to January 15, 2016.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 17.6 million Americans who were uninsured now have health coverage,” Burwell said.

There were no early signs of trouble with the healthcare.gov site on Sunday morning, unlike when the site crashed at the start of the first enrollment period back in 2013.

That was also true of the few states which are still running their own signup websites – like Maryland – as many have struggled to keep their internet portals working properly.

For Republicans, the mere mention of ObamaCare still raises GOP blood pressure readings, as the RNC sent out an email on Sunday morning to reporters reminding them of “FLASHBACK: ObamaCare’s Rollout Disaster.”

“When Obamacare enrollment began in 2013 it was a complete disaster,” the GOP headline read.

While Republicans in Congress have tried to repeal part or all of the Obama health law, the GOP still has not brought an actual replacement plan up for a vote in either the House or Senate on what would supplant the Obama health law – despite repeated promises to do so.

And even the issue of repealing the health law has divided Republicans, as recently three GOP Senators vowed to block a plan approved by the House, which would force the President to veto a bill that gets rid of some parts of the health law.

“This simply isn’t good enough,” said Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

“Each of us campaigned on a promise to fully repeal Obamacare and a reconciliation bill is the best way to send such legislation to President Obama’s desk,” the GOP trio said.

The problem is that you can’t use the ‘budget reconciliation’ process to fully repeal the Obama health law, which used that fast-track procedure to pass only parts of that law back in early 2010.

A bill recently passed by the House – using reconciliation – would repeal the individual and employer mandates, the medical device tax, the so-called “Cadillac tax” on expensive health plans, and the Independent Payment Advisory Board under the health law.

But for now, that may be going nowhere in the Senate.


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