Exclusive–Phil Gingrey: Did They or Didn't They Meet?
The rollout of Obamacare has been described as “bungled,” “botched,” “abysmal,” and “pathetic” by everyone from Democrats to Republicans to private citizens to talking heads.
Rollout notwithstanding, the law in and of itself is a nightmare. It’s hastily-written, deeply flawed, and cedes enormous decision-making power to faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats. The effects of this ill-conceived law will alter health care delivery for patients, drive physicians out of practice, and send insurance premiums skyrocketing for millions of Americans.
Sixty-one percent of the public disapproves of Obamacare. In fact, a recent Rasmussen survey found that 50 percent of voters believe the law should be repealed, up from 43 percent in October. This isn’t because the law has changed. As Americans receive cancellation notices, see their premiums skyrocket, or learn, in fact, that they can’t keep their doctors, they realize now that promises made won’t be kept. In some instances, officials knew of these problems long before they surfaced.
When it comes to President Obama’s signature piece of legislation, especially, it’s become an almost daily struggle for answers. Major announcements, such as program delays, deadline extensions, and rule changes aren’t announced or explained. Instead, they’re buried in blog posts, website FAQs, or the Federal Register on Fridays or holidays.
For a president who once said, “Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their government is doing,” this has been the least transparent administration in recent memory.
In November, 38 major news organizations complained that, "As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist's camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the executive branch of government."
As Congress is stonewalled and investigations stymied, taxpayer dollars continue disappearing into a bureaucratic black hole. Whether it’s an Obamacare slush fund, enrollment and education “outreach,” or to build (and later repair) Healthcare.gov, how these funds are spent should be public and easily accessible. It should not require a Freedom of Information Act request, which I recently submitted, to learn how navigator grants were awarded and the money spent.
But administration officials refuse to answer even the most basic questions or outline how decisions are reached. Based on a study released by the Government Accountability Institute examining the presidential calendar and visitor logs, an article published in Politico Magazine revealed that President Obama and Secretary Sebelius had met just one time since 2010. The White House disputed that account, claiming Sebelius “is here a lot and meets with the president regularly.”
At the heart of these conflicting accounts are—yet again—the issues of transparency and accountability, or lack thereof. President Obama and Secretary Sebelius must provide taxpayers more answers about who in the administration knew what, and when he or she knew it. When officials received warnings of problems, how high up the chain of command did they go?
There is too much at stake for these questions to go unanswered. Healthcare comprises one-sixth our economy, and Obamacare comes with a $2.1 trillion dollar price tag. The botched rollout of Healthcare.gov, its myriad delays, and the lack of transparency from the administration demonstrate either total incompetence or political gamesmanship. Either scenario is disastrous for patients, taxpayers, and job creators.
Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) represents Georgia’s 11th Congressional District.