Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said Sunday that healthcare.gov, the troubled Obamacare exchange website, is “apparently functional,” but admitted that he hasn't personally tried the website.
Dean told CNN's “State of the Union” host Candy Crowley that he believes President Obama can fix the website and that everything will come up roses for Obamacare.
“I think the president can right this ship. This website is now apparently functional,” Dean said. “I haven’t tried the website, but if this program works – and I think it will – three months from now a huge number of people who didn’t have health insurance are going to have it and mostly at a better price.”
On the panel with Dean was former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., who disputed Dean's rosy outlook and said that even if the website appears to be working on the front end, meaning the part of the site that Americans use to sign up for health insurance, there are still problems on the back end.
Santorum said that the back end of the site, the part that sends information to insurers, is “garbage.”
Crowley pointed out to Dean that polls show Americans increasingly believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, especially since Obama's recent foreign policy blunders like Syria and the Obamacare rollout disaster. Dean, however, brushed off the poll and the idea that Obama's presidency would suffer lasting damage from the missteps.
“I think there’s no evidence for that at all,” Dean said. “I think that’s right-wing talking points against this president. From day one when he got in there they tried to undermine him as a human being – that’s not a tactic that’s good for the country.”
Of course, Dean had to ignore the consistent polls showing Americans’ disapproval of Obamacare and the lack of trust they now have in the president. But hey, when facts don’t go your way, just ignore them.
That’s apparently what Dean believes.
Responding to Santorum's claims that Obamacare has already and will continue to lead to higher insurance prices, lower benefits and longer wait times for doctors, Dean again ignored the evidence.
“I think none of that’s going to happen,” Dean said.
But Dean immediately admitted that Santorum was right – at least about the higher costs.
“There are going to be some rates that go up because rates have gone up for 30 years,” Dean said. “And there is no cost control in this bill. There was no cost control in Governor [Mitt] Romney's bill - that's going to have to come later. We're going to have to get away from fee-for-service medicine for that.”
But price increases were not sold to the American people. In fact, Obama promised at least 19 times to lower health insurance premiums, so giving him a pass because rates have gone up for three decades is not acceptable.
And as for fewer benefits, Santorum is wrong, sort of. People will get more benefits, but those benefits will include things people don’t need, like maternity care for single men.
And Dean can't ignore the fact that doctors and hospitals are opting out of Obamacare. How Dean believes that won't lead to longer wait times for care is anyone's guess.