Health and Human Services secretary Sylvia Burwell tried once again on Tuesday to set a new tone for Obamacare despite persistent public opposition, declaring success and plaintively asking the country to “move forward.”
“The Affordable Care Act is working,” Burwell stressed in a speech at the Brookings Institution, citing several personal stories but few metrics. “Families, businesses and taxpayers are better off as a result.” (RELATED: GAO: Feds Spent $3.7 Billion On Obamacare But Aren’t Sure Where It Went)
Despite her pledge that the law is working, Burwell acknowledged that the public doesn’t seem to think so. The secretary called for a “course correction” when it comes to talking about Obamacare: “Collectively turning the volume down.” (RELATED: Voters Don’t Like Obamacare, And Probably Never Will)
Burwell’s victory speech comes in the wake of a series of nonpartisan reports and new data have revealed a long list of ongoing problems and broken promises with the health-care law. From taxpayer dollars going to insurance plans that provide abortions to inadequate computer security for HealthCare.gov customer’s most personal information, it’s now clear that a year after Obamacare’s botched roll-out, implementation still isn’t going smoothly.
But Burwell didn’t discuss the repeated hits against the health-care law. Instead, she touted a record number of Medicaid enrollments — 8 million more on the low-quality program since last October — and a new, lower number of Obamacare exchange enrollments, 7.3 million.
“Since 2013, 10.3 million adults are no longer uninsured,” Burwell said. “I firmly believe this is the key measure.” She focused on the increased “access, affordability and quality” of health insurance in the post-Obamacare world. (RELATED: Dem Rep. Admits Obamacare Doubled His Family’s Health Insurance Costs)
“We’re starting to receive higher quality care,” Burwell further pledged. “If you need chemotherapy or some other life-saving operation,” insurers can no longer deny it. But the chemotherapy reference may hit a sore spot for many Obamacare exchange customers, however: exchange plans largely don’t cover the top cancer treatment centers in the country. The hallmark for exchange plans are very narrow provider networks that can actually lower the quality and availability of health care to many customers. (RELATED: Study: Pre-Obamacare Health Insurance Was Higher-Quality Than Exchange Plans)
The administration admitted in early September that it’s just getting through a long backlog of Obamacare applications with income problems. Over 360,000 Obamacare customers will lose their subsidies on September 30 if they don’t change their information and are presumably ineligible for the taxpayer assistance — which they’ve been receiving for anywhere between four and nine months.
Burwell also claimed that the administration is “very focused on security” when it comes to the federal Obamacare website. She did not, however, address the several nonpartisan reports that have revealed over the last month that HealthCare.gov lacks even basic information security measures — or the successful hack of the HealthCare.gov website over the summer. (RELATED: Docs: Obama Admin Knew HealthCare.gov Was Vulnerable To Malicious Attacks And Launched It Anyway)
“Let’s move beyond the back and forth and let’s move forward together,” Burwell concluded.