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Buchanan Opening Statement at Oversight Hearing on the Individual Mandate Under the Affordable Care Act

January 24, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) today delivered the following opening statement at a Subcommittee hearing focusing on the failures of the Affordable Care Act‘s individual mandate.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:  

“My focus today is on affordability. In Florida, 65 percent of counties only have one carrier offering insurance to individuals in 2017. The state went from eight carriers in 2014 to five in 2017. In Manatee and Sarasota counties—two counties in my district, individuals went from being able to choose from among plans offered by three insurance carriers to only having a choice of plans offered by two carriers. This happened in just a single year. In addition to having less options to choose from, the average monthly premium for Floridians enrolled under the ACA increased by 19 percent, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. 

“Let me pause and look back to four years ago when the Affordable Care Act was just beginning to be implemented. In 2013, then-HHS Secretary Sebelius released a report stating that “[a] goal of the Affordable Care Act is to increase competition and transparency in the markets for individual and small group insurance, leading to higher quality, more affordable products.” Fast forward to 2017 and what we are seeing, not only in Florida but across the country, is a decrease in competition and an increase in premium costs. This trajectory cannot continue. It is not sustainable.

“We are here today to understand why the individual mandate—a key component of the ACA—is failing to stabilize the health insurance marketplace. This discussion is important not so that Members on this side of the aisle or the other side of the aisle can try to score political points, but so that we can understand the facts. We need the facts because there are real people’s lives that are being impacted. When I talk to people in my district, it’s clear to me that they are struggling. Although I’ve mentioned some state-wide and county level statistics—those numbers touch the lives of real people, real Florida families.

“We cannot stand idly by as health insurance under the Affordable Care Act becomes less and less affordable for our constituents. I hope this hearing serves as a first step to fixing what is broken. I look forward to listening to our witnesses and learning from the past so that we can develop better solutions for the future.”