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Van Hollen, Paul weigh in on 'Obamacare,' hearings

Thursday - 10/24/2013, 10:57am  ET

AP: d2bdd537-7986-4e7d-8f94-7ef89ecf11dd
FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2013, file photo, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. leaves the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, after a procedural vote on a bill to fund the government. Potential 2016 presidential candidates now in Congress, including Paul, have been relatively silent about a partial government shutdown. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

What should be done about Obamacare website's glitches?

Rep. Chris Van Hollen shares his thoughts.

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Problems with the site, Affordable Care Act

Sen. Rand Paul discusses his biggest concerns about Obamacare and the website issues.

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WASHINGTON - As Congress on Thursday begins to scrutinize the source of glitches that have plagued Healthcare.gov, many Republicans and Democrats have expressed differing viewpoints about who is to blame.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., told WTOP Thursday morning there is no denying that the Obamacare website has problems, but congressional hearings on the matter should focus on getting the site functioning -- and quickly -- rather than placing blame.

"I hope these hearings do not distract from the effort to get it right as fast as possible," Van Hollen says. "There is a time for holding people accountable and that should be done, but right now we need to use this time to get it right so people can access the system."

The site's own contractors are not shy about placing blame, saying the Obama administration shares responsibility for the site's glitches.

Van Hollen says Maryland is among the states that have been slow to use the new health care system.

"In Maryland, it got off to a slow start but it's still proceeded better than some of these federal exchanges," he says. "In Kentucky they are going very well. So this is an example of, ‘Let's figure out what's not going well with respect to many of these federal exchanges.'"

While the commonwealth-run exchange is effective in Kentucky, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., also told WTOP Thursday that the real proof of its usefulness will be measured by the ability to fund the system.

"[The government] is going to look foolish for several months," he says. "Even when they overcome this, the real question is how we're going to pay for it."

Paul, an outspoken opponent of "Obamacare," says the biggest irony of the ordeal is that Democrats are working to delay the individual mandate -- the requirement that just about everyone have some sort of health insurance starting next year -- after the party's strong stance to not delay it contributed to the 16-day government shutdown.

"It's hard not to have a belly laugh when I think of the Democrats now saying we need to delay the individual mandate even though they shut down the government over it," he says.

Paul adds that he is not looking forward to his own experience using the glitch-riddled site.

"I'm getting ready to have to sign up for it, and I think I'd rather have a tooth pulled than go on that website," Paul says.

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