Officials say Obamacare website improves as Republicans pounce

Mon Nov 18, 2013 6:59pm EST
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By David Morgan and Caren Bohan

WASHINGTON Nov 18 (Reuters) - The race intensified on Monday between Republicans trying to discredit President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law and officials trying to repair the flawed website crucial to the success of his policy reform.

While Obama administration officials said they had made significant improvements to, Republicans began appealing to the public on Monday for personal accounts of negative experiences with the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.

The government has promised the site will be operating smoothly for the vast majority of users by Nov. 30, so that potentially millions of people can enroll by a Dec. 15 deadline for coverage that would begin on Jan. 1.

Congressional aides say the strategy by Republicans in the House of Representatives is aimed at putting a more human aspect to opposition arguments that have been largely abstract up to now.

"Facing hardships as a result of Obamacare? We want to hear your story," said a message posted to the website of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a panel led by Republican Representative Fred Upton, whose bill to allow insurers to renew canceled insurance policies won approval on Friday from House lawmakers including 39 Democrats.

A similar bill, sponsored by six Democrats in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate, appeared to be on hold for the time being, thanks in part to Obama's decision last week to let people keep old health insurance policies for the time being.

That left Senate Republicans searching for other vehicles to put Senate Democrats on the spot over Obamacare, particularly members facing competitive re-election races in November 2014.

Among the options being considered, according to a Senate Republican leadership aide, is attaching an Obamacare repeal measure to some other bill, ideally something Democrats support, such as a proposal to raise the minimum wage.   Continued...