Both Chambers of Congress are back in session following a short break after they reopened the government and prevented a national default. The fiscal troubles haven’t gone away—far from it—but the big story now is the miserably botched Obamacare rollout. On October 1, the day the shutdown started, Americans were supposed to be able to sign up for healthcare plans, but the website where people were supposed to do so failed.
In response to the poorly executed implementation of the law, Republicans in the House of Representatives are pushing for information from the Administration. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of the committees with jurisdiction over healthcare, has asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to testify.
The Energy and Commerce Committee is not the only panel investigating the healthcare implementation. The House Oversight Committee, which is dedicated to reviewing the actions of the Executive Branch, naturally wants a piece of the action. The Republicans on the panel are accusing the Administration of making the web developers conceal the price of the healthcare plans, which they say caused glitches; the Democrats on the Committee dispute this.
Although the congressional Democrats are standing by the law, they have nonetheless also criticized the website’s development.
One of the most contentious provisions of the healthcare law was that individuals must have healthcare insurance or face a penalty, which was supposed to be levied beginning in 2014. The Administration is indicating that it might exempt some from this penalty due to the website failure.
Even though the law survived a challenge at the Supreme Court last year, Obamacare is not out of the legal woods yet. A Federal judge recently refused to dismiss a suit against the government where plaintiffs are arguing the Administration is illegally enforcing the law in certain states.