Ohio senators split on reaction to health overhaul

Ohio's senators disagree on response to health care website glitches and program's future

Associated Press

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Ohio's U.S. senators disagreed on what should happen to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul in the wake of technical problems that have plagued the Healthcare.gov website.

Democrat Sherrod Brown, of Cleveland, said longtime opponents of the law want to use the technical problems as an excuse to try again to block it. Republican Rob Portman, of the Cincinnati area, said the malfunctions are an indicator of what's ahead if rollout of the complex health care law continues.

"A number of politicians, all of whom have good taxpayer-financed health insurance, have wanted to kill this, and not just delay it, but out-and-out kill it," Brown said. "Ultimately, we've got to make this work."

Portman said the overhaul is a "big government" program that will hurt the U.S. economy, and the website's technical malfunctions highlights that the Obama administration doesn't have its act together on the health care plan.

"It's not a 'glitch.' It's a breakdown," Portman said. "It's much more serious than the kind of a glitch you might have on some app on your iPhone that doesn't work the first day, but the second day gets fixed."

The Obama administration has said the computer system wasn't properly tested and blamed a compressed time frame for meeting the Oct. 1 deadline to open the insurance markets.

Two contractors responsible for building the site testified in front of Congress Thursday that they would have liked more time to test it. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said her agency is bringing in more experts and specialists from government and industry to improve the system.

Portman said the Obama plan should "be replaced with something that works better." Brown said there is strong public interest in carrying out the overhaul.

Neither lawmaker wants Sebelius, daughter of late Ohio Gov. John Gilligan, to be ousted.

"I don't think she's done a great job," Portman said, "but I don't think firing her is going to solve the problem."

Brown said it was "inexcusable" that the website wasn't ready, but added: "It's not a reason to throw the baby out with the bath water. It just means they've got to get more serious about fixing it."


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