WASHINGTON — Now that the partial government shutdown is over, the GOP members of the Louisiana congressional delegation are honing in on the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act thus far this month.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Reps. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge; Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson; Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette; and John Fleming, R-Minden, wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday to ask about the numbers of people enrolled in Louisiana in the health care exchanges and about the increased premium costs for some residents.
“By any reasonable standard, you were not prepared (on Oct. 1),” the letter states, after recounting many of the problems with the HealthCare.gov website for health care exchanges.
“In our state of Louisiana, not a single person was able to sign up with our state’s largest insurer on the opening day of Obamacare open enrollment because of website glitches and delays,” the letter continues. “News stories continue to report that Louisiana enrollment remains low because of trouble accessing the HealthCare.gov website.”
The White House has said updated enrollment numbers are expected to be released in mid-November. Tuesday’s letter asks for a response from Sebelius by Nov. 28.
On Monday, Scalise called the website rollout a “national embarrassment” and Fleming has gone further by calling on Sebelius to resign.
“Louisiana families would like to know why this site, costing millions upon millions of tax dollars, doesn’t work,” Cassidy added in an email response on Tuesday. “This is the minimum level of transparency that should be given. It’s not too much to ask.”
The letter also asks Sebelius to provide more details on what tests were done on the website before its launch and for the results of such testing.
The delegation also asks why the launch was not delayed if problems were anticipated.
President Barack Obama has acknowledged problems with the website and said that more outside experts are now working on the problems.
Obama also has said that many of the initial issues arose from greater-than-expected traffic on the website right away.
The letter also questions what other underlying problems with the website are and what lesser level of web traffic did the administration actually anticipate.
In an email response, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said she is “frustrated with the delays and glitches, and the (Obama) administration needs to act swiftly to get the website fixed and functional.”
But, as a supporter of the health care law, Landrieu insisted , “We need to keep moving forward so that anyone looking for more competitively priced, quality health insurance” can have it available online through the exchanges.