Politico by Jennifer Haberkorn –
November 4, 2013:
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus says Congress would need to consider delaying Obamacare’s penalties if the website is not repaired, but he said such conversations are “premature” at this point.
“If it looks like Humpty Dumpty isn’t getting good, back together, maybe we should start thinking about delaying the penalties,” Baucus (D-Mont.) told News Talk 730 radio in Billings, Mont.
But Baucus, one of the chief authors of the law, said he’d rather just see HealthCare.gov repaired.
“It’s not right to penalize people because of mistakes that the government has made because the exchange isn’t working. So the better approach is making sure the exchange is working so we don’t have to worry about the penalty problem,” he said.
“We may get to a point later where maybe a delay is more appropriate, that might be the better judgment, but I don’t think we’re at that point yet,” Baucus said in a complete transcript of the interview provided to POLITICO.
Baucus said he plans to ask Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in his committee hearing next week about the site’s problems. He said he’s frustrated that Congress wasn’t made aware of the site’s flaws ahead of time, particularly at hearings Baucus held with Sebelius.
“I’m a little, frankly, concerned and a little disappointed that earlier discussions have not been as forthcoming as I’d like them to have been,” Baucus said. “Maybe she and others didn’t know themselves — that in and of itself raises a question:Why in the world didn’t she know? That’s her job to know.”
Baucus said he would ask the secretary: “You didn’t tell us last time about these problems, so tell us this time. What are the problems? We want to hear it straight.”
He said his top priority is getting the website repaired and then finding out what went wrong.