Thomas Roberts   |  November 01, 2013

The week in Obamacare

Rep. John Yarmuth, D-KY., discusses the week in Obamacare including the House hearings with HHS Secy. Kathleen Sebelius and the controversy over the site glitches. Fmr. Gov. Howard Dean, D-Vt., also joins the conversation.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> thomas roberts . topping our agenda today. deep sixed. what's in a number when it comes to obama care? republicans in congress are all about numbers these days. gop members have released new documents showing just six people successfully enrolled on the first day of the new health care exchange . now, six the first day, just 248 more by day two and according to an aide for these republican committee members, a laundry list of issues kept people from getting on the site and getting the job done.

>> we're working every day to make improvements to this wholly unsatisfactory website. i want to make clear nobody is more unsatisfied with the way that website has performed since the launch than the president of the united states . but we're working every day to improve it.

>> so there is new evidence of a growing group within the president's own party that they are revolting against the problems plaguing the health care rollout. "the new york times" reporting there's worry about the impact against democratic candidates in next year's elections.

>> democrat senators that are running for re-election want to delay because they don't want to face the people that are being affected by the law because they want to win their election. that should tell you everything you need to know about what's going on here and how people are perceiving it. the president's numbers are in the tank.

>> joining me is kentucky congressman john yarmuth . as a member of the energy and commerce committee and he was there for wednesday's hearing. sir, great to have you with me. politico has in print what's been pretty obvious all along, talking about gop sabotage. quoting from the article saying the opposition was strategic from the start. derail president barack obama 's biggest am sbition and derail obama himself. the evidence, the bread crumbs of this trail is all there and a major part of that sabotage has taken place at the state level. only 17 states are running their own exchanges and 26 have turned down medicaid expansion. is state level obstruction the biggest obstacle to the aca being a success?

>> i don't think there's any question about it. all you have to do is look at my state and california and new york and some of the states that have done their own exchanges and the sheerexperience has been incredibly successful. we have 35,000 kentuckians enrolled in the first month. people who could not afford or did not have access to insurance before. we have another 25,000 or 30,000 in the application process. we have 400 businesses that have -- are trying to get insurance for their employees through the exchange . so in those states where the administration embraced the program, it's been very, very successful and people understand very well the benefits of the affordable care act .

>> sir, as we get these numbers out, and obviously these numbers that are out today are nothing to shout from the rooftops as we get the health care website's first two days, these numbers are anemic. honestly, they're anemic. as we look, though, at massachusetts, an example from '0 s '06. enrollment was slow there too, people procrastinating, signing up at the last minute. we fast forward to now and your home state of kentucky . it has emerged as a poster child for the south. we have more than 345,000 website visits, nearly 60,000 applications started and some 32,000 have enrolled. why is kentucky working so well?

>> well, i think the governor made a decision very early on that we were going to do our own exchange , took advantage of the federal grant program to build the exchange , brought in very, very good people and made some very critical decisions early on that i think helped. one of them which the federal exchange didn't make was to allow people to browse the site and browse the plans without going through the application process. so to a certain extent we were lucky, but it was basically the commitment of the administration to make sure that it worked. when you're only dealing with one state and one set of providers and one set of insurance rules and one set of insurance companies , it's a lot easier to make it go well than it is with 36, as the federal change is trying to do.

>> there are a lot of articles trying to capture of the anxiety that democrats have. we're at the one-month birthday today since the website launched. if these problems aren't fixed by november 30th as promised, it seems the damage will be compound compounded. are democrats starting to experience some serious anxiety about this new drop date?

>> well, i think some are. some are always going to be anxious and paranoid. but -- and obviously there is a political risk here. if the site is not fixed, if people don't have access to the information and the exchange , the federal exchange , there is a political risk for many people. but i'm confident that these problems are going to get mixed and, you know, if they don't get fixed by november 30th , i think that's a real problem and we might have to look at extending the period for enrollment and maybe the penalties period. but i think over 30 days we'll see a marked improvement in the site.

>> so this date denotes the one-month birthday of the aca rollout and also $5 billion in nationwide food stamps cut goes into effect. what do you tell constituents that are worried about these cuts and know what this means, because they have been using this as part of their social safety net ?

>> well, i tell them that is a tragedy and i tell them that the bigger threat right now is republicans ' efforts to cut $40 billion from the program over the next ten years. in my state, interestingly enough, there's six congressional districts . my state has the only significant minority population. we have the lowest utilization in my district of any of the six. the other five of all represented by republicans , and they all voted for that cut of $40 billion, even though their districts -- in hal rogers ' district in appalachia, one in four of his citizens are on food stamps . this is an incredible impact on the economy. for every $5 spent on food stamps there's $9 in the economy. so this is a very important social safety net for working families , seniors, disabled and poor children. so that's what i think we ought to be mainly concerned about is this plan to cut $40 billion over the next ten years because then the problem becomes very, very structural and long term.

>> sir, thanks for making time for me. i appreciate it.

>>> joining me is former dnc chair howard dean . sir, it's good to have you with me now. you may have heard me talking with the congressman about the gop sabotage politico was talking about. that's hardly a secret. part of that campaign has been one of misinformation, being intellectually dishonest about how people are losing their insurance plans. we've got a couple of articles out today. the l.a. times says back in march they placed these plans in a category called junk health insurance . some plans may be worse than having none at all. so these points also make that the expecting insurance companies to play fair with their customers is as pointless as expecting dogs not to drink from the toilet. talking points memo has the bottom line , almost all of them are going to receive the same or much better coverage and many will receive financial help to purchase it. isn't this what republicans said that they wanted? this is based on a republican plan. this is making all of us be personally responsible for ourselves.

>> frank lly at this point the republicans are just political and nothing else. i find it best to ignore them entirely. this program will rise and fall not on what the republicans say or do, because actually their ratings are far lower than the president's. it's going to rise and fall on whether we can get this running properly or not and we have to focus on that and not pay so much attention to these whack jobs in congress who have forgot they need to serve the american people . now, to get to your question, yeah, we did this 20 years ago. some insurance companies left. those were the insurance companies that were taking 50% of your health care dollars and not spending it on health care . those were the insurance companies that when you were a 35-year-old and you got something really bad, they got rid of your policy. and those are the kinds of people who are losing their health insurance . they don't know that they're losing something that's bad because they haven't been sick. when you get sick and you have one of these policies that doesn't cover this, doesn't cover that and can be cut off, all of a sudden you find that indeed this is junk health insurance and there's a fair amount of it. that's one of the great things about obama care, he's going to get rid of that.

>> it's only in those emergency situations that you find out how unprotected you really are when you try to get the coverage that you've been paying into. we have this article from the national journal , one of several calling into question the president's credibility as a result of the promises that he made about people keeping their insurance. nicole wallace laid into spokesman jay carney over it. i want to play a small portion.

>> the public believes your boss, and you know as well as i do when the public stops believing your boss, he is rendered impotent. so how do you make the public believe your boss when the two things that were said to reassure people, that they could cope their health plans and they could keep their doctors, turn out to be not true?

>> so, governor, ezra klein puts this in perspective for us, a fascinating blame game with the problems. you can see where the arrows are pointing. so is the test of the gop and the sabotage and blame game going to be born out for democrats come 2014 ?

>> well, that depends. i think right now the odds are with the democrats. i think the republicans have essentially eliminated their brand as a serious contention in american politics . not to say they're going to go away, they're not. but nobody believes anything they say. the problem is we've got to deliver this. it has entirely to do with democrats. the republicans are irrelevant to this debate. they can make noise, pretend their outraged. we've got to fix this and make it work properly. and my hope is that this november 30 deadline for getting this thing fixed is kept. these are hard things. in vermont we have our own exchange that hasn't worked as well as we thought it would work. it hasn't worked as well as kentucky 's or california's, so a lot of the problem is the general problem in the tech industry. these rollouts are big and messy. they're messy in the private sector and the public sector . when you try to do 36 states , they really get messy. so the president's credibility is on the line. again, i think the republicans are irrelevant in their baying at the moon and they're silly and we all know that they were happy to shut down the entire economy of the world to get their way. why pay attention to them. let's focus on what we have to do which is fix the website, fix the program. we're probably going to need some paper backups. we've got to get folks signed up. i don't think it's a good idea to delay. i understand senators are worried about their re-election. let's worry about health care an stop worrying about politics.

>> november 30th will be here before we know it. great to have you on, thanks so much.

>> thank you.

>>> it's being called shop and frisk. barneys has until today to hand over its racial profiling policies to new york 's attorney general, and so far no dice.

>>> and this as opponents of new york 's stop and frisk program face a major setback. michael skolnick will join me next.

>>> plus a new book "double down" revealing juicy details about the 2012 election saying president obama considered replacing joe biden with hillary clinton on the ticket. the agenda panel will be all over that one. that topic also leads our big question for you this friday. should president obama have swapped out vp biden for hillary clinton in 2012 ? weigh in, join the conversation on