Politics

Congressman blasts reporters at Obamacare waivers presser: ‘I don’t know why your profession isn’t outraged’

Freshman Illinois Republican Rep. Joe Walsh ripped mainstream media reporters at a press conference Wednesday morning for their failure to adequately cover the Obamacare waivers imbroglio.

“This is an outrage,” Walsh said of the Obamacare waivers program. “I don’t know why your profession isn’t outraged. If this were any other president or any other administration, you would be investigating this tooth and nail every single day.”

(Illinois Republican Joe Walsh tells TheDC why he said ‘no’ to congressional health insurance)

Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp organized the presser at which several members ripped the Obama administration for its lack of transparency and inability to answer basic questions surrounding the waivers process. Though the administration announced last week that it is phasing out the Obamacare waivers program starting in September, those that have already received waivers and those that get them before then will be allowed to keep them through September 2012, right before the next presidential election.

Huelskamp and 31 other Republican members signed onto a June 2 letter asking Obama’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to answer which entities the administration has denied waivers to and why? At the presser, Huelskamp held up a blank poster-board meant to represent Sebelius’s failure to respond to the letter.

“These waivers represent more of the same in that, if you want to participate in the process, you’ll find out that the rules are secret unless you know the key players and the referee,” Huelskamp said. “Obamacare was pitched to the American people as being fair for all, yet waivers do exactly the opposite. It makes it a choice between the haves, and the have-nots. Some get to be exempt from the law, while the rest of America has to live under it.”

The entire Kansas delegation was at the presser, and called on Sebelius, their former governor, to actually come forward and answer the questions being asked about the program. Kansas Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins said that, though she’s obviously ideologically opposed to Obamacare generally, she thinks the waiver program is especially unclear and unfair.

“In the spirit of full disclosure, I voted against the president’s healthcare bill last Congress and I have voted and worked very hard to see that it is repealed this year and replaced,” Jenkins said. “But, despite my personal opinions on the underlying legislation, I’ve had many friends at home ask me sincerely if these waivers are being used for political purposes. Unfortunately, I am unable to answer their question because we simply do not know.”

Jenkins went on to say that Kansans “just want transparency and accountability from Washington” regardless of whether they support the health care law or their former governor.