Top Democrat Warns of Obamacare “Train Wreck”

| April 17 2013
John Walker

Baucus Grills Sebelius in Senate Hearing

We know Obamacare is in deep trouble when one its chief architects says he fears a “train wreck” in implementing the complex healthcare program.

In a Senate Finance Committee hearing Wednesday with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Committee Chairman Max Baucus said he is concerned that the public does not understand the law.

“I just see a huge train wreck coming down,” Baucus told Sebelius. “You and I have discussed this many times, and I don’t see any results yet.”

According to a report in The Hill, Baucus pressed Sebelius for details about how the Health and Human Services Department will explain the law before it takes effect in a matter of months.

“I’m very concerned that not enough is being done so far- very concerned.” Baucus told Sebelius.

As Chairman of the Finance Committee, Baucus moved Obamacare through the Committee and the full Senate before the healthcare overhaul passed in early 2010.

Now Baucus and his fellow Democrats in the Senate must live with the results. Baucus, a long-serving Senator from Montana, faces reelection in 2014. Along with other Democrats from red states, Baucus could face a competitive election with Obamacare as a central issue.

Baucus asked Sebelius to address misunderstandings about the details of Obamacare.

“Small businesses have no idea what to do, what to expect,” Baucus said.

Baucus referred to anecdotal evidence from small businesses in his own state and asked Sebelius for specifics about measuring public understanding of the law.

“You need data,” Baucus said. “Do you have any data? You only give me concepts, frankly,” Baucus said.

Sebelius told Baucus that the administration is not monitoring public awareness of Obamacare, but will launch an education campaign this summer.

Baucus is not the first Democratic Senator to publicly raise concerns about Obamacare. In a Senate Finance Committee hearing last week, Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia noted the complexity of Obamacare.

“I believe the Affordable Care Act is probably the most complex piece of legislation ever passed by the United States Congress,” Rockefeller said. “Tax reform obviously has been huge too, but up to this point it is just beyond comprehension.”

Obamacare is due for major implementation starting in January of next year. Many provisions need to be put in place soon, but the administration is way behind in the effort to launch the full program.

It is not a good sign when the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee takes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to task in a public hearing. It should be a warning of more trouble to come.

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