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May 07, 2014 5:39 PM House GOPers Face to Face With Unfriendly Facts on Obamacare

By Ed Kilgore

Get a load of this report from the House today by The Hill’s Elise Viebeck:

Republicans struggled to land punches against ObamaCare in a hearing Wednesday, as responses from insurance companies deflated several lines of questioning.
Democratic lawmakers were emboldened to defend the Affordable Care Act with renewed vigor and levity, creating a dynamic rarely seen in the debate over ObamaCare.
Adding to the irregularity, exits on the Republican side at a subcommittee hearing led by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) allowed multiple Democrats to speak in a row and let heavy Democratic criticism of Republicans go unanswered, a contrast with the heated exchanges of last fall….

Nor did the GOP’s private-sector buddies stick to their assigned script in this hearing by the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

Republicans were visibly exasperated, as insurers failed to confirm certain assumptions about ObamaCare, such as the committee’s allegation that one-third of federal exchange enrollees have not paid their first premium.
Four out of five companies represented said more than 80 percent of their new customers had paid. The fifth, Cigna, did not offer an estimate.
Republicans also stumbled in asking insurers to detail next year’s premium rates. Companies are still in the process of calculating prices, and they have a strong financial incentive not to air early projections in public.
“Has anybody done any kind of analysis?” said a frustrated Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), vice chairman of the wider Energy and Commerce Committee. “You all have conducted no internal analysis on what the trend line is for these premiums?”
“At this point in the filing season, we can’t offer any guidance or speculate on where [premiums] are going to fall,” said Paul Wingle, executive director of public exchange operations at Aetna.
“At this juncture, we don’t have the information,” added Dennis Matheis, president of exchange strategy with Wellpoint.

What do you mean, “don’t have the information?” Wasn’t the Failure of Obamacare preordained when the Affordable Care Act was signed?

I’m reminded of the infamous Rep. Earl Landgrebe (R-IN), who in response to the growing evidence of Richard Nixon’s culpability during the Watergate hearings said: “Don’t confuse me with the facts. I’ve got a closed mind.”

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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