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Stonewalling on ObamaCare

| Saturday, April 5, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Tom Fitton is president of Judicial Watch, a Washington, D.C., government watchdog group, and author of “The Corruption Chronicles.” He spoke to the Trib regarding his organization's legal battles with the Obama administration over ObamaCare.

Q: Judicial Watch last month filed two ObamaCare-related lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. What's the gist of them?

A: We have a number of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits designed to get answers to the key questions about ObamaCare. Most recently, we have (a lawsuit that questions) the security of the Healthcare.gov website and whether people can be confident that their confidential personal information will be kept private and secure if they give it to the federal government or to any other ObamaCare exchange websites run by the states.

There also is (a lawsuit regarding) the hardship exemptions, which at its heart is the individual mandate, which requires you to have certain essential coverage in order to be compliant with the law. They've overruled that and said you don't necessarily have to have the type of coverage mandated by ObamaCare, which may be a good idea but (it's) not within the law.

Q: Do you feel these lawsuits underscore the sentiment many people have expressed that rather than being something solid and inflexible, ObamaCare consistently seems to change on the fly?

A: That's right. We don't have key statistics to even evaluate the success of the law.

We've had to sue to get access to information about the number of people who signed up in the initial few months of ObamaCare. We've had to sue to try to see details about issues related to whether the Feds were transmitting correctly the health care information to the insurance companies to seal the deal.

That's the rub — you know people are signing up, but the question is, do they have insurance as a result of signing up? Unbelievably, that question is still an open one and one we've had to sue to (try to) get answers to.

Q: What does the fact that you have to litigate to try to get answers to such basic questions tell you about the Obama administration?

A: It's proof positive that stonewalling is underway on ObamaCare.

Q: And stonewalling is a sign to you that ObamaCare isn't working, that it's deeply flawed?

A: If the news was good, I would presume they would be shouting it from the mountaintops. All of these questions that not only Judicial Watch is asking, but the media are asking and Congress is asking, they are not answering.

The stonewall is methodical in many ways. We can't get our basic requests answered, and the law requires they do that. The law requires a response and they are not following the law.

Q: Do you believe the administration wants to deliberately stall on these matters until ObamaCare has been in place for so long that the political will doesn't exist to make major modifications to it?

A: Well, the president is saying the debate is over. Obama on ObamaCare sounds like Putin on Crimea. That's not the way things work in a democratic society.

Debates don't end in democratic societies. It's greatly troubling when a president says the debate is over. That's not the way it works in a republic, Mr. President.

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media (412-320-7857 or eheyl@tribweb.com).

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