Rhode Island's congressional delegation praises health care law

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has been criticized wildly by Republicans across the country, but Rhode Island's four-member congressional delegation -- all Democrats -- are supportive of the reform.

Sen. Jack Reed said Monday at a Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce breakfast that problems are to be expected.

"This is the most significant social change we've undertaken probably since the Medicare Act of 1965. In fact, maybe even more complicated," Reed said. "Rhode Island has had a very good response but this has to continue."

And Rhode Island's HealthSource insurance exchange system has been touted as one of the nation's best.

"They will get better at it as time goes on. They have hit a lot of the targets they wanted to achieve. As I understand it, about a third of the people who have signed up are between 18 and 34, about a third of the people are ages 55 and older," Rep. Jim Langevin said.

What these supporters would like to see out of the reform is more than just getting insurance for people who haven't had it before.

"The other part of it is to really fuel innovation to help drive down health care costs," said. Rep. David Cicilline. "This will only work in the end if we are insuring many more people, but we are also delivering health care at a more affordable cost."

That's an area where there may be plenty of room to improve.

"When you think that we spend half again as much as the most expensive countries in the world, which is Switzerland and Norway, without better health care outcomes for our population, there's a huge, huge savings opportunity that's here to be achieved," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said,

Lines of subscribers were standing at the HealthSource headquarters in Providence on Monday.