CHICAGO - Just days after Republicans in Congress shut down the government in the latest in a long string of attempts to kill or cripple the Affordable Care Act, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee including John Shimkus, R-Il., and Adam Kinzinger, R- Il., are holding a public hearing today on "the failures and issues surrounding the implementation" of the health law.
Shimkus and Kinzinger are only two of many Republicans who ahave already declared the enrollment of people in the health care exchanges a "failure," even though the program has been operative for only 24 days and extension of enrollment from Janurary to the end of March has already been announced.
Some have expressed surprise that long-time opponents of the law are now worrying about the ability of contituents to sign up for it.
Democrats here in Illinois note that neither Shimkus or Kinzinger have offered any type of alternate health care plan, that both have repeatedly blocked funding needed for the ACA's implementation, and that both would allow the insurance companies to go back to denying coverage to millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions and dropping people when they get sick.
"Give me a break," said Brad Woodhouse, president of Americans United for Change, October 24. "It's really rich for Republicans to be shedding crocodile tears over the glitches in the ACA website when they have done nothing for four years but try to impede, repeal, and defund the law and root for its failure. This is pure, craven politics."
Supporters of health care reform also note that the ACA involves a lot more than just signing up on the exchanges. In states that have expanded Medicaid as called for under the law, for example, millions are already getting insurance they would otherwise not have had.
"This is a transparent attempt by Republicans to score political points around road bumps in the health law's implementation and distract from the fact that they just left 120,000 Americans without jobs by shutting down the government in the name of Obamacare. It's not fooling anyone. It takes a lot of nerve," said Woodhouse.
Reps. Shimkus and Kinzinger have opposed the ACA every step of the way, from the first debates in Congress to voting more than 30 times each to repeal the law after it went into effect. Both used their opposition to the law to justify the recent government shutdown.