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POLITICS: PennAve

Steny Hoyer wants more money to fix Obamacare exchanges

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Congress,Steve Contorno,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Health and Human Services,Health Care,PennAve,Steny Hoyer,Kathleen Sebelius,Health Care Exchanges

Rep. Steny Hoyer wants to give President Obama more money to help fix the costly federal health care exchanges that have been roiled by problems since they launched at the beginning of the month.

Asked Tuesday how Congress could help improve the system by which millions of Americans must buy insurance by the end of the year, the House minority whip and Maryland Democrat said, "We can give them a little money."

"[Republicans have] been pretty much focused in the House of Representatives on undermining the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in every which way that we possibly could," he said.

Hoyer admitted that he does not know whether the project, which has already cost more than $400 million, has faced funding problems. "I don't think that's the reason," he said. "If I know that, I'll blame it."

The federal exchanges, the online marketplace for the uninsured to purchase insurance in 36 states, went live on Oct. 1. But the millions of Americans who have visited the site have been stonewalled by error messages, and most have been unable to buy coverage.

Some estimate it could take weeks or even months to eradicate all the problems. Obama acknowledged the problems in a press event Monday, but vowed improvements and stood by the law.

Republicans have called for Obama to fire Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Hoyer said that's not necessary, but echoed the president's concerns.

"I certainly believe it's a bad performance," Hoyer said. "Obviously this was not done the way it should have been done, and I'm sure if I was a Republican I would yell and scream about it as well.

"I'm sure that everyone who was a proponent of the Affordable Care Act is not happy — me included," he added, "because it gives fodder to those who are opposed to the substance of the act."

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