The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

February 24, 2014

GOP intent on highlighting health care woes

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans intent on highlighting the woes of President Barack Obama's health care law need to look no further than their own back yards, some of which are traditionally liberal strongholds.

Maryland's online health care exchange has been plagued by computer glitches since its rollout last year, reflected in abysmal enrollment numbers well below projections through January. The state's lone Republican in Congress, Rep. Andy Harris, has asked the inspector general of the federal Health and Human Services Department to investigate.

In Oregon, the online portal has struggled to sign up a single individual, and Republican Rep. Greg Walden recently sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office pressing for an inquiry. Officials in both states insist they are working to fix the problems.

"Everybody's pointing fingers at everyone else, so we have no idea why this went wrong," Harris, who was an anesthesiologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital for 30 years, said in a recent interview.

Unified in their opposition to the law, Republicans have been relentless in focusing on its problems, from complaints of canceled policies to higher insurance premiums and Obama's unilateral decision to delay for two years the requirement that small businesses cover employees.

The GOP effort has intensified this election year as Republicans look to capitalize on dissatisfaction with the law, turning voter dismay into November victories. The ill effect of "Obamacare" is the GOP's constant refrain.

Nearly 3.3 million Americans have enrolled through the federal and state marketplaces as the federal online site worked out the problems of its disastrous rollout, a recent sign of promise for the 4-year-old law.

A silver lining for Democrats in the recent enrollment numbers is the actual sign-ups exceeding projected totals in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Michigan and Colorado, according to the January figures. Three of those states have Senate Democrats who voted for the law and now face re-election — Kay Hagan in North Carolina, Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire and Mark Udall in Colorado.

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