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Good Morning. I would like to welcome Marilyn Tavenner to the Committee today. I look forward to your testimony and to hearing an honest, straightforward assessment on the status of the health care law.
Six months ago, Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius told this Committee a dozen times that the Administration “will be ready October 1.” We now know the Administration was not ready and, just last week, Secretary Sebelius suggested they “could have used 5 years” to get the Exchanges up and running.
Despite having three years to get the system up and running, officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who are charged with implementing the Exchanges, added, “due to a compressed time frame, the system wasn’t tested enough.”
Frankly, three years should have been enough. And, had the Administration provided more forthcoming answers and shared, in a transparent manner, the reality of the challenges it was encountering in the implementation process, I suspect many of these glitches could have been avoided.
While a website can eventually be fixed, the widespread problems with ObamaCare cannot. Almost daily, we hear of reports of ObamaCare increasing costs, harming job creation and forcing Americans off their current plan. These problems cannot be fixed through a “tech surge,” and they are not just a glitch in someone’s health care coverage or job.
Not a week goes by that I don’t hear examples from the people I represent in Michigan and job creators about the increasing costs and how ObamaCare is making it harder for businesses to invest, grow and hire. Just last month, Meridian Public Schools announced that it would be cutting the schedules of hourly workers to fewer than 30 hours per week as a result of ObamaCare. And this month, the Detroit Free Press reported that at least 146,000 Michiganders have received cancellation notices for their current health care plan due to ObamaCare.
In fact, based on what little information the Administration has disclosed, it turns out that more people have received cancellation notices for their health care plans this month than have enrolled in the Exchanges.
The widespread acknowledgement that the health care Exchanges were not tested months in advance, as promised, is cause for concern. But the concerns don’t stop there. The Treasury Inspector General warned in August that it was not confident about the IRS’s ability to protect confidential taxpayer information or to prevent fraud, and neither am I. On top of that, the Exchange does not give individuals the information they need to make an informed health care decision.
When going through the options, how are Americans able to see:
- If they are even eligible to be in the Exchanges?
- If their current doctor is in a plan?
- What the real cost of their premiums will be?
- How much their copay will be?
No amount of website fixes can make right the President’s broken promises that health care costs will be lowered by $2,500 or that Americans will be able to keep the plan they have and like.
Those are worthy goals – reducing costs and maintaining coverage – and ones we should all work together to accomplish. I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind my colleagues that the alternative put forward by Republicans at the time was the only plan scored by the Congressional Budget Office as actually reducing premiums.
Democrats chose to go down another path, and this is where it has led us. Instead of plowing forward with this unworkable law, the Administration should, at a minimum, seriously consider delaying the law for families and individuals, just as it has done for big business. If they fail to do so, I fear we could see a fundamental breakdown of the insurance market where premiums will skyrocket – pricing millions of Americans out of health care, yet still forced to pay the individual mandate tax.
Administrator Tavenner, we cannot solve a problem until we realize the full extent of that problem. Your answers today, and in the future, will be critical to this Committee’s oversight of the health care law, and, more importantly, to our work to make sure Americans have access to affordable health care.