Top Senate Democrat says ObamaCare is on its way to ‘substantial success’

A top Senate Democrat said on Sunday that ObamaCare is “on its way to be a substantial success.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Democrat in the chamber, defended the rollout of the healthcare reform law in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” while noting that “it’s off to a rough start with the website.”

Critics of the law have been quick to point out problems in the website that the Obama administration launched on Oct. 1, which is designed to help consumers shop for health insurance on new marketplaces, called exchanges.

Glitches and delays at the website have prevented many users from logging on and applying for insurance, even after multiple attempts.

“I don’t think this plan will work because it’s based on a couple of premises that won’t work,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) replied.

“But when you can't even put together the package to sign up, that shows how big a job it is for the federal government to manage 16 percent of the economy and people’s health insurance plans. It's not where the federal government should be.”

Durbin and other defenders of the law have claimed that some of the problems with the website have been due to a surge in traffic, which they say represents intense public interest.

On Saturday evening, the administration announced that 476,000 people had successfully applied for insurance through the government site. However, the Department of Health and Human Services did not disclose precisely how many of those applicants were successfully signed up for insurance. 

Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius refused to testify about the website’s failure before a House committee.

Republicans have hammered her for the decision, especially since reports emerged that she will appear at a gala in Boston the night before the hearing.

Blunt predicted that Sebelius will appear before a congressional panel at some point.

“I think she’ll have to testify,” he said. “I don’t think she can refuse to answer questions about this.”