Harry Reid concerned about Obamacare implementation

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) expressed fresh concerns Wednesday about the implementation of the federal health care reform law, while a second congressional Democrat also chimed in with some worry.

Reid said he agrees with Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), one of the law's chief architects, who has expressed concerns about potential problems with implementing some of the law's key components. Baucus recently said he sees a  "huge train wreck coming down" the road in the implementation process.

"Max said unless we implement this properly it's going to be a train wreck, and I agree with him," Reid said Wednesday on The Rusty Humphries radio show.

"So, we're not spending enough money and we're not implementing it properly, in your opinion?" Humphries asked Reid.

"Yes," replied the Senate majority leader, adding: "We have the menu but we don't have any way to get to the menu."

Reid continued: "We are taking money -- the president is taking money -- I wish we had money just to do this on its own, but he's agreed, he's determined, he's going to take money from some of the other things that he feels are less important in the health care bill and put it on letting you and others know what's in the bill."

Key parts of the Affordable Care Act are set to kick next year, including the creation of state-based health care exchanges, the individual requirement to have health insurance, and Medicaid expansion.

Freshman Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), a physician, said he is concerned about the the way the Obama administration has explained the roll-out of the health care law.

"I worry that when the Affordable Care Act was originally passed, they did a very poor job of explaining it. ... I don't know that they're doing a much better job telling people about what the roll-out is going to look like," Bera told the Sacramento Bee editorial board.

At a Tuesday news conference, Obama acknowledged the challenges of implementation, and said his administration is doing all it can to smooth out the process. Most people, Obama said, have already felt the effects of the law.

"I think the main message I want to give to the American people here is, despite all the hue and cry and 'sky is falling' predictions about this stuff, if you’ve already got health insurance, then that part of Obamacare that affects you, it’s pretty much already in place. And that’s about 85 percent of the country," said the president.

Kaiser Family Foundation poll released earlier this week shows that most Americans who are likely to access new new health programs under the act say they don't have enough information to understand its impact on them.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan · May 2, 2013