Federal contractors responsible for the so-far notoriously glitchy HealthCare.gov, the health insurance marketplace website set up under the Affordable Care Act to provide insurance options in states that chose not to set up a site themselves, today testified before the GOP-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee. They were there to answer for the considerable trouble the federal exchange site has experienced since launch–far more than in states like Colorado who built our own insurance exchanges. As Politico reports, both Republicans and Democrats had pointed questions about the federal exchange website's embarrassing failures:
Diana DeGette of Colorado agreed. “I want to stress that for the Affordable Care Act to work, these problems need to be fixed, and these problems need to be fixed fast,” she said. “We need to see clear examples of improvement, and we need a timeline for when it will be functional.”
While some Republicans had constructive questions, others couldn't resist taking political potshots that had more to do with their longstanding dogmatic opposition to health care reform that the subject at hand. Some veered into the downright silly with their (to put it mildly) highly speculative conclusions. We're sorry to report that includes Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado:
Most of the Republicans managed to stay on point and stick to the important questions without drifting into Obamacare-bashing. But not all of them…
Ralph Hall of Texas noted that his constituents “hate the Obama law.” Shimkus declared that “when [Nancy] Pelosi said we had to pass this law to find out what’s in it, we’re finding out.”
Steve Scalise of Louisiana complained that “there are so many broken promises with this law. If you like what you have, you can keep it … Costs were going to be lower.”
Even Cory Gardner of Colorado, who pried out an important admission from Campbell — that CGI had built a browsing feature and was asked to turn it off — didn’t just suggest that decision helped break the website. He suggested it was something darker: a deliberate political decision “to hide the real cost of Obamacare from the American people.” [Pols emphasis]
Got it? It couldn't possibly be that the exchange website was unable to cope with the traffic from actual insurance buyers, let alone millions more armchair policy wonks who would have sat there endlessly querying the system for idle pursuits if a "browsing" feature for insurance rates was enabled. You see, this wasn't incompetence, or inadequate planning, or anything boring like that at all. Like everything President Barack Obama has ever done since becoming president, the breakdowns at HealthCare.Gov are just a cover up for the really bad stuff!
If you get the feeling that even after these startup problems are fixed–pretty much no matter what happens–Gardner and friends are not going to be happy, that's probably because you're right. They won't ever be happy. The rule of Hanlon's Razor states, and we tend to agree, that one should "never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." But in today's unhinged political climate, where's the fun in that?