Dean: Employee Health Care Options Should Be ‘In The Hands Of The Federal Government’

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WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – Howard Dean showed confidence in weekend statements from Obama administration officials conveying to Americans that the health care website is vastly improved from its faulty, original Oct. 1 launch date.

The former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chairman was joined on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to discuss improvements to HealthCare.gov and criticism surrounding President Barack Obama and the glitch-plagued launch of the Affordable Care Act website.

Dean stated a high level of trust in the improvements made to the president’s signature health care law, while Santorum remained skeptical.

“I think the president can right this ship. The website is now apparently functional now,” said Dean. “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.”

Dean and Santorum also discussed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case from Hobby Lobby and another business which challenges the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for coverage of certain forms of birth control for employees. The two debated the government’s role in requiring coverage that some for-profit businesses may find religiously objectionable.

“So, you know, this is one country,” said Dean. “We all have to live by a set of things that are passed in Washington and agreed to by the court. We’ll see what the court does, but I don’t think a particular employer has a right to decide what kind of health care their employees are going to get.”

“That’s now in the hands of the federal government and that’s where it should be,” he said.

Santorum argued that Hobby Lobby is a business who is “very clear about their religious content,” arguing that the federal government should not get to impose values or moral decisions on private businesses.

“I mean, the idea that the First Amendment stops after you walk out of a church, that it doesn’t have anything to do with how you live the rest of your life,” said Santorum. “I don’t know very many people of faith who believes that their religion ends with just worship, it ends in how you practice and live that faith.”

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