GOP has shifted its attack strategy
Now that the badly botched rollout of the federal government’s health care website seems to be behind us, Republicans have shifted their criticisms to several states that are experiencing problems enrolling people on their state-run exchanges.
Their attacks would be more credible if they showed the slightest desire to help fix the problems. But their main goal is to belittle the efforts of states that are working hard to make their systems better, to scare people away from the state websites and to discredit the health care reform law itself.
There is no doubt that the exchanges run by Oregon, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Hawaii have gotten off to troubled starts — much like the federal exchanges created to serve residents in states that refused to set up their own. The problems are similar at both levels — unreliable software and the failure to heed early warnings that the systems weren’t ready.
Massachusetts’ exchange was working well until it had to be overhauled to mesh with the federal reform law, at which point it ground to a halt, leaving Massachusetts, once the model for effective health care reform, pondering whether to scrap its exchange or find ways to work around the problems. In other states, the websites have worked only intermittently, slowing enrollments.
The states are working with insurance companies and brokers to get the machinery working properly, but some people who wanted to enroll may be left temporarily without insurance or the federal subsidies they may be entitled to.
Republican leaders, meanwhile, are doing little to solve the difficulties and are instead threatening to recover money not yet spent on enrolling people, and harassing state officials with requests for information about the salaries and vacation time of directors of the state exchanges. The start-up problems will be surmounted in due course. Republican gloating over the problems does not help the uninsured get the coverage they need.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE NEW YORK TIMES