'I just see a huge train wreck coming down,' Senator warns
Enacting ObamaCare provisions are bound to fail, Sen. Max Baucus says
Fearing that the American people do not understand how ObamaCare will work, Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the chamber's powerful Finance Committee and a key architect of the healthcare reform law, says "I just see a huge train wreck coming down" as the Obama administration implements its signature healthcare law.
Senator Max Baucus asked Kathleen Sebelius for specifics about how it is measuring public understanding of the law. "You need data. Do you have any data? You've never given me data. You only give me concepts, frankly," he said.
Baucus pressed Sebelius for details about how the Health Department will explain the law and raise awareness of its provisions, intended to take effect in just a matter of months. "I'm very concerned that not enough is being done so far - very concerned," Baucus said.
Pressing Sebelius to explain how her department will overcome entrenched misunderstandings about what the healthcare law does, Baucus noted that "small businesses have no idea what to do, what to expect."
Baucus asked Sebelius for specifics about how it is measuring public understanding of the law. "You need data. Do you have any data? You've never given me data. You only give me concepts, frankly," he said.
In response, Sebelius said that the administration is not independently monitoring public awareness of specific provisions but will be embarking on an education campaign beginning this summer.
Facing a competitive reelection fight next year, Republicans are sure to attack Baucus over his role as the primary author of the healthcare law.
This week's hearing wasn't the first time Democrats, including Baucus, have raised concerns about the implementation. But while other lawmakers have toned down their public comments as they've gotten answers from the Health secretary, Baucus said Sebelius has not addressed his fears.
"I'm going to keep on this until I feel a lot better about it," Baucus told Sebelius.
There are "persistent" misconceptions about the healthcare law, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Public awareness was highest for the most politically unpopular provisions, and many people wrongly believed the law contains provisions like a "death panel" to make decisions about end-of-life care.
Enrollment in the healthcare law's insurance exchanges is expected to begin in October, for coverage that begins in January. Baucus, though, said he's worried exchanges won't be ready in time.
"For the marketplaces to work, people need to know about them," he said. "People need to know their options and how to enroll."
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