The Obama administration’s one-year delay for small businesses to purchase health insurance via the main Obamacare website proves that “nothing is ready for implementation,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn told Newsmax on Wednesday.
“Because of these delays, there are problems caused every day to the insurance market, the healthcare delivery market,” the Tennessee Republican said in an exclusive interview. “Our healthcare system is going to fall into disarray because this president has brought forward a plan that is not workable.”
In the latest setback for the beleaguered healthcare law, the White House said earlier Wednesday that the online health insurance marketplace for small businesses was being put off until November 2014 to make sure the HealthCare.gov website gets fixed first.
The announcement came on the day before Thanksgiving. The White House disclosedits delay of the Obamacare employer mandate until 2015 on the day before the July Fourth holiday.
“They are consistent in one thing,” Blackburn told Newsmax, laughing. “They’re consistent in how they choose to give bad news. They think nobody’s paying attention, but we’ve seen that it doesn’t work that way.”
With the announcement, employers with 50 or fewer workers who want to buy Obamacare marketplace plans will need to go through an agent, broker, or insurance company. The administration says the move will allow small businesses to buy coverage, without slowing technical repairs to the hobbled federal site.
The marketplace was supposed to provide small businesses a new way to shop for coverage.
Problems continue to plague HealthCare.gov, which covers 36 states that do not have their own health exchanges, since the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act took effect on Oct. 1.
The site has been shut down for repairs — and HealthCare.gov crashed last week during a visit by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to a hospital in Miami.
Americans continue to experience technological and accessibility problems with the site.
Further, lead technology officials have told Congress that HealthCare.gov may not be fully operational at the end of the month this week, as promised by President Barack Obama.
The administration this week also announced a postponement of a Spanish sign-up tool for the Obamacare site.
“This one is going to hit our small businesses particularly at this time of year,” Blackburn told Newsmax of the latest delay. “The fourth quarter of the year is the most crucial time for our small businesses.
“They have make-it-or-break-it season, especially retailers. They are trying to get ready for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday,” she added, referring to major shopping days later this week. “Then, all of a sudden, they get this — and many of them have had their insurance dropped.
“It is so disquieting and upsetting — and it is part of the deceptiveness of this entire rollout. You would never expect an administration to be this disrespectful of taxpayers, but this is what we’re seeing from this one.”
Blackburn added that the timing of this latest announcement further fuels public dismay about the Obama administration.
“People are watching. People are paying attention,” she said. “Due to the haphazard nature and deceptive nature of how they’ve gone about making their pronouncements, people are watching.
“They’re incredibly distrustful. They are tired of the half-truths and the falsehoods — and they are ready to get this law off the books.”
And, of course, it’s clear that the White House moved the delay to November to protect vulnerable Democrats in next year’s congressional elections.
“Everybody sees through that now. I’ve been out in my district, and people have caught on to what he’s doing,” Blackburn told Newsmax. “Of course, Democrats are very concerned about losing the Senate — and all indications are that they are going to lose the Senate.
“People are disgusted at how this implementation has been carried out. They see it as, not trying to provide access to quality healthcare, but as trying to take control of healthcare. People are saying: ‘It’s not going to work. Get rid of it.’
“They want the whole thing repealed. They’re looking to us to do everything we can possibly do to delay it, to forestall it, to make certain that we get rid of this law.”
In lieu of complete repeal, however, Blackburn encouraged the House to vote on a bill she introduced in July that would delay all Obamacare provisions for one year. The legislation, which has more than 150 co-sponsors, remains in subcommittee and has not been brought to a floor vote.
“We started our due diligence in overseeing the rollout in March 2011. We have held countless hearings,” said Blackburn, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “We were told: ‘We’re on track.’ ‘We’re going to meet our deadlines.’ But now, it’s been, first, one thing and then another.
“Now, we’ve found out that they’re not meeting any of their deadlines — and they’re just, willy-nilly, deciding to delay things. They have this ‘take it-or-leave it’ mentality in delaying one thing at a time instead of addressing the entire process.
“What we’re seeing is just a lot of unhappy people who are so disappointed,” Blackburn continued. “I’ve talked to so many people who voted for the president, who supported the president, contributed to the president. They are so disappointed in his lack of leadership and his seeming lack of ability to lead or his seeming lack of interest in leading.
“Because of that, it’s basically come down to people saying: ‘If they can’t stand the program up, they need to get rid of the program. We’ve seen too many things that have run off the rails, so let’s not even go there with this one.’”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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