Oct. 24 - Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz vows to keep up opposition to President Obama's healthcare reform, and the lead contractor on the troubled Healthcare.gov website pledges to irate lawmakers service will improve. Conway G. Gittens reports.
The nearly $400 million website - Healthcare.gov - is on the hot seat on Capitol Hill, According to the Government Accountability Office, watchdog for all things money in Washington, that's how much it cost to build the troubled online healthcare exchange. Contractors responsible for rolling out the website - drawing fire from both sides of the political aisle. The exchange has been plagued with technical problems since launching at the beginning of the October. Speaking at the Reuters Washington Summit, Republican Ted Cruz says the Affordable Care Act, referred to as Obamacare, was doomed from the start. SOUNDBITE: TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN SENATOR, TEXAS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Obamacare is hurting millions of Americans right now. It isn't working. And I think that should remain front and center the priority for Republicans and for Congress to provide meaningful relief for all the people who are losing their jobs, who are losing their healthcare because of Obamacare." Cruz has a few ideas of his own on how to shake up healthcare: introduce tax-free health savings accounts, separate heath care coverage from employment, and allow cross-state purchase of insurance. SOUNDBITE: TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN SENATOR, TEXAS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "What a 50-state marketplace would do is dramatically expand the availability of low-cost catastrophic plans, which would markedly increase the amount of people who could purchase insurance by making it affordable." Meanwhile back on Capitol Hill, lawmakers continue to grill contractors on when American will have proper access to the current program. Cheryl Campbell, a senior VP at CGI Federal, the lead contractor behind Healthcare.gov makes this claim: SOUNDBITE: CHERYL CAMPBELL, CGI SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The system will continue to improve. From our perspective, as painful as it sounds, I know that the experience has been a difficult experience. The system is working. People are enrolling, but people will be able to enroll at a faster pace, the experience will be improved as they go forward, and people will be able to enroll by the December 15 timeframe." Just in time for coverage to kick-in on January 1st.