Democrats, Republicans still at odds over Obamacare's fundamentals

Hoyer: Iran nuclear agreement a "marginal imp... 04:43

Republicans and Democrats are still at odds over whether the problems with the Affordable Care Act stop at the launch of the website or pervade the entire law – and whether the Republicans have an alternative plan to reform the U.S. healthcare system if they repeal Obamacare.

“I don't think Obamacare has failed,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “Access to Obamacare has been a failure at this point in time it needs to be fixed. So from that standpoint the substance of Obamacare is yet to be tested.”

To the extent that it has been tested, Hoyer said, “it's been a success.”

But Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., says the law has failed on three fronts: the website, the president’s pledge that people would be able to keep their plans if they liked them, and on lowering cost of healthcare.

“I do not believe you can fix this law to lower the cost and crease access,” McCarthy said. “We have to scrap it to start anew and get bipartisan consensus that puts the patients first and lowers the premiums.”

McCarthy offered a list of ideas to reform the healthcare system, including tort reform, buying health insurance across state lines and creating small business pools.

But the GOP has yet to put these ideas into legislation, so Hoyer said that they “have offered no alternative at this point in time.” Republicans are pushing to scrap the entire law, not tweak it. 

Hoyer said that’s not necessary. “We don’t need to start over,” he said. “I don’t think the American people want to start over.” He said the majority of the American public wants to fix the law instead of repealing it outright, though that isn’t supported by all recent polling.

A CBS News poll released last week showed that a plurality of Americans, 48 percent, think the law has good aspects that can be kept as long as changes are made to improve it overall. Another 43 percent think the law needs to be repealed entirely, and just seven percent think the law should be kept in place as is. 

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    Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.