WASHINGTON D.C. – Sen. Orrin Hatch claimed to Newsmax TV on Wednesday that testimony by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius confirmed that “Obamacare’s implementation challenges are getting worse by the day.”
“She tried to put a good face on it, but HealthCare.gov is plagued with delays, errors, and faulty information,” the Utah Republican told Newsmax in an exclusive interview. He was referring to the main Obamacare website, which serves the 36 states that lack their own health exchanges.
“It’s been over a month since its launch, and even though the administration has brought in the so-called best and brightest to fix this mess, the website hit another 90-minute power outage on Monday,” he said.
Hatch, 79, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, underscored the problems with the website when he questioned the embattled Sebelius in her testimony before the Senate Finance Committee.
He called for monthly progress reports on the program and challenged the secretary’s inability to provide specific enrollment figures to committee members. That data would come next week, she said.
Sebelius also admitted that convicted felons might have been hired as Obamacare “navigators” â€” a job that would give them access to the personal information of people signing up for healthcare coverage. The federal government does not require background checks for the navigators, she said.
“States could add in additional background checks and other features, but it is not part of the federal requirement,” Sebelius told committee members.
Hatch told Newsmax that he suggested that security measures be tested for Obamacare as early as April.
“They needed to have independent verification as to the privacy of these exchanges, and now they’re having all kinds of problems with people having to give some of their personal information, including how much they make as a family and income,” he said. “These things can really be used by fraudsters and people who thrive on taking advantage of people whose Social Security numbers and financial data become available.”
“There’s no guarantee that the data being submitted over HealthCare.gov is 100 percent secure,” Hatch said.
And, healthcare premiums are rising under Obamacare and many Americans are losing their coverage.
“What about his claim that, ‘If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor?'” Hatch asked. “Now we’re finding that people can’t get the same doctor that they’ve relied on, that they had faith in.”
“If you get kicked off your health insurance and dumped into the exchanges, the chances of you being able to find an affordable plan that has your personal doctor in its network are not looking good. The fact is that it’s a disaster.”
And because Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli hammered away at Obamacare’s problems as his gubernatorial campaign ended, he stopped Democrat Terry McAuliffe from gaining a huge victory in that state’s election on Tuesday. McAuliffe won by a slim margin, surprising many pollsters.
“The Democrats are now getting a little bit jittery because they realize that had we not had the shutdown caused by just very few senators up here, Cuccinelli would have won,” Hatch told Newsmax. “He was down double digits two weeks ago, and then he was able to get back on track and point out that Obamacare is just a disaster â€” and he only lost by 3 points.”
“Had that race lasted another week, week and a half, two weeks, [Cuccinelli] would have won. He actually did pretty well under the circumstances, because they were saying it was going to be a double-digit win for his opponent.”
Cuccinelli lost to McAuliffe 48 percent to 45 percent.
Hatch, however, refused to blame the attorney general’s loss on Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee, also of Utah, because of their opposition to Obamacare that eventually led to last month’s 16-day federal government shutdown.
“No, but the shutdown did not help Cuccinelli,” he told Newsmax. “The Republican Party after the shutdown took a big hit in the polls, and undoubtedly that was transferred to Cuccinelli.”
“Now, I don’t find fault with senators who really do what they believe,” Hatch continued. “On the other hand, most people acknowledged that that was not a very good thing to do because there was no end-game that we could win â€” and most people have concluded that we’d have done a lot better without [the shutdown].”