Forget the Faulty Website: GOP Uses Obamacare Hearing to Whine About Abortion Instead

There are about six weeks left for uninsured Americans to sign up for new health insurance policies on the state and federal exchanges if they want coverage to begin on January 1, 2014. Pressure is mounting on the federal exchanges to do what the states have already managed to do: create a glitch-free, easy application experience for those trying to compare and purchase plans online. So far the failures of, the federal exchange portal, have been public and embarrassing. They’ve also been gleefully bandied about by Republican politicians who opposed health care reform from the start.

As the site continues to lag behind expectations, it’s Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius who is shouldering most of the blame. Some of the criticism lobbed at Secretary Sebelius during a recent Congressional hearing on the ACA site issues may be merited, and she took full and immediate responsibilities for the shortcomings. “Access to has been a miserably frustrating experience for way too many Americans,” she said in her opening statement, according to the Washington Post. “So let me say directly to these Americans: You deserve better. I apologize. I’m accountable to you for fixing these problems. And I’m committed to earning your confidence back by fixing the site.”

Her admission did little to deflect the GOP members of the panel from their mission to attack the Secretary, the administration and the Affordable Care Act all together. As part of the hearing, a number of the anti-abortion politicians already planned to repeatedly question Secretary Sebelius over some of the plans in the exchanges allowing abortion coverage, a “be transparent” talking point prepared to act as red meat for their anti-choice backers.

That abortion was going to be a key element of the hearing itself was well-known by everyone in the chamber. In fact, a lawmaker was heard in the background saying, “Oh, here we go,” once Rep. John Shimkus (R – Ill.) uttered the words, “If someone, a constituent of mine or someone in this country has strongly held pro-life views can you commit to us to make sure that the federal exchanges that offer that are clearly identified so people can understand if they’re going to buy a policy that has abortion coverage or not?”

Abortion being covered in a number of plans shouldn’t be surprising, since abortion was traditionally offered in most private insurance plans as a preventative service. In fact, it was because of the Affordable Care Act that a number of states wrote laws blocking abortion care in their plans. That move now has caused more plans to eliminate coverage on their own. “We had heard that some plans are saying that they are not going to offer [abortion coverage] now because they have so much to figure out and this little extra administrative activity they have to be involved in is something they want to figure out when things calm down a little,” Judy Waxman of the National Women’s Law Center told NPR.

The far right GOP congressional push to force Secretary Sebelius to talk about abortion during the hearing served two purposes when it came to appeasing the faction’s extreme anti-abortion base. Not only could they give the appearance that they were still waging the battle for unborn babies, they could also take a moment to publicly harass the Secretary, whom many of the anti-choice activists still revile for blocking their attempts to put Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller out of work or, in their favorite scenario, in jail.

Was last week’s panel really meant to probe into the issues that existed with and find a way to correct them? Or was it just another dog and pony show for Republicans to show their base that they are doing something, even if that “something” is exactly what they’ve been doing for years stubbornly opposing the Obama administration without offering any solutions of their own.

Whatever their purpose, and despite their blustering, new coverage under the exchanges should go into effect on January 1. When that happens, we will see less cases like Richard Streeter, who was diagnosed with advance colon cancer that could have been treated if it had just been detected earlier. There will be less people like Diane Barrette, who according to Consumer Reports was basically paying $50 a month for the privilege of being essentially still uninsured. More people will wake up on New Year’s Day able to get preventative care or see doctors for the first time in months or years, with or without consumer site issues. The GOP can run as many hearings as they wish, but they still can’t stop any of that from happening.

Photo credit: Wikimedia commons


Jim Ven
Jim Ven6 months ago

thanks for the article.

Linda McKellar
Past Member 3 years ago

Well said Charles S. The same paradigm exists in all big corporations besides insurance companies, like McDonalds and Walmart. Since they don't pay their employees a livable wage, the general populace including David F, who complains about paying health care for the lazy bums, ends up paying the salaries for those employees through subsidies such as food stamps and subsidized housing. No matter how you look at it, the average taxpayer is paying the salaries & benefits of the working poor while the CEOs & boards get multi million dollar bonuses. The same with health care. The insurance company executives rake in the dough & the taxpayers have to pay ridiculous prices for treatments that cost a quarter as much elsewhere, not to mention paying for treatment of the poor in non profit hospitals. Whatever the enterprise in the US, the big guys make the money while the middle class pays the bills for the poor AND the rich. DUH!

Charles S.
Charles S.3 years ago

You could get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach from swallowing all the garbage from the Tea Party , and Fox News.

Carole L.
Carole L.3 years ago

Chazz Y
“Does anyone else here get a sick filling in the pit of their stomach about Obamacare? I know I sure do.”

no. btw, Obamacare has an affordable healthcare plan for your “sick stomach”.

Charles S.
Charles S.3 years ago

David F. If the for profit , free market insurance program was so great , there wouldn't be any need for the A.C.A. The trouble with the for profit free market insurance , is its main purpose is to make money , not provide health care . It pays outlandish salaries to executives , and directors ,and CEO's as well as huge bonuses . Then there are the returns to share holders.
Not one cent of that money provides any healthcare. Then they finagle and use loopholes not to provide coverage.
As we Americans are supposed to be the government , it would be much wiser if we owned the health care plan. We would not have to pay all those high salaries , and bonuses and shareholder returns. As we are the owners all the money can go to pay for administering the program ,and health care. All of that money for salaries , bonuses , and stock returns could be eliminated or provide much better coverage. All it should provide is health care coverage for everyone.

Robert H.
Robert Hamm3 years ago

David YOU do exaqctly what you accuse US of. You BLINDLY follow Corporate and Pharma's talking points. INSURANCE COMAPNIES found a loophole in the law and are using it to get around Obama's negotiations. The reason they are doing it is becasue Young people are refusing to buy insurance as had been hoped. Obama cant MAKE insurance companies deal in an ethical fashion. Of COURSE he is apologizing to the people who are losing their insurance!!!

The problem you have David is you think the market is the same as it used to be back in your prime. It is absolutely NOT the same. They litigate profits now,. They litigate their competitors right out of business. The market is no long even remotely ethical.

The difference between you and me is you trust the market,……I absolutely do NOT. I also dont trust te government all that much. We need both to keep the other in some reasonable check and balance.

Linda McKellar
Past Member 3 years ago

DAVID F, you still dance around the topic of health care costs. Look up comparative costs for health care procedures in the US vs elsewhere & the discrepancy is blatant. One PERSONAL example. My 2 cousins had identical surgeries, knee replacements. The one in Canada received a statement (not a bill) of $ 14,000. Her brother in S Carolina received a BILL of @62,000. How is that more efficient? She went home with no financial burden. He was lucky enough to be an architect who could afford to pay. I stress that her surgery was not free as her taxes indirectly paid for it. Even considering that, why the price difference? All I ask is that you just once justify the insurance companies' exorbitant profits. Profits are fine, that is what runs the economy, but screwing sick people is unethical, not like big business considers ethics important. "Obamacare" is a piss poor plan because it's just mandatory payouts by citizens to insurance cos whose main concern is obviously profit for their shareholders. Why not follow other systems where insurance cos cover extended care like private rooms, dental & such. They would still make $, just not as much as they want. People are not "products" for profit & should not be treated as such. If that morality makes me a "commie", hallelujah!

Linda McKellar
Past Member 3 years ago

David F - I did not say global warming. The environmental conditions caused by pollution have created global CLIMATIC CHANGE. This results in weather extremes be it hot, cold, hurricanes, etc. This week in the Philippines the strongest storm in recorded history hit with winds over 240 MPH! THAT is extreme. I totally agree the earth has undergone natural cycles but we are augmenting them. I concur with the MAJORITY of scientists, not those paid off by the oil industry to protect their interests. I have no agenda re climate change since I'm old enough to croak before the shit hits the fan & have no descendants. Do you have descendants who must live with it? Perhaps that might give you pause unless you don't care about them.

Frank S.
Past Member 3 years ago

Everybody has a hard luck story Charlie, you are not alone. I have mine as you have yours. If you believe ObamaCare is good for you then so be it. You have your belief and I have mine....That's what makes this country so great as we all follow are own beliefs. God bless you Charlie and good luck in all your future endeavors as there is nothing more that I can say about this subject that will not be considered repetitious . Have a good life my friend

Charles S.
Charles S.3 years ago

Frank S You are the one missing the point . You are the one assuming what you think the president said. There were already people getting free coverage through Medicaid. But there are many more people like my daughter and her husband and three children who cannot afford the only plans available to them. With $1100.00 per month premiums , and $2500.00 co-pays is the best they could get. They will be able to get some good coverage that they can afford under the A.C.A. They are not looking for anything free. They are just a heart attack or major illness from catastrophe, where they could lose their home and everything else they have worked the last 25 years for.
You tend to think everyone is a freeloader, which they aren't.