Brady Opening Statement: Hearing on the Challenges of the Affordable Care Act
Another day, another change by the White House to “fix” their controversial health care law. Today, families and patients abandoned by the new law learned the Obama Administration has launched a new and improved marketing campaign for the troubled law.
It is a strange use of resources given that the problems are with the policy, not the politics, and what’s needed are real solutions, not more spin.
The Affordable Care Act’s fundamental problems can’t be fixed with better marketing. The flaw is not the website, the flaw is the law itself.
Improving the defective website won’t make ObamaCare premiums more affordable.
Improving the defective website won’t prevent millions of Americans from walking to their mailbox only to find the health care plan they have and like is cancelled because of the Affordable Care Act.
Improving the defective website won’t keep President Obama’s promise that Americans will see a $2,500 reduction in health care premiums. And it won’t prevent middle class families from experiencing more expensive premiums and higher deductibles they simply can’t squeeze from their already-stretched budget.
As one fellow Texan wrote to me,“We are a family of three that paid $753 a month for health insurance when ObamaCare was enacted. We are now paying $1,117 a month for the same plan, a 48% increase.”
My Democratic colleagues repeatedly promised the ObamaCare exchanges would deliver a new, competitive marketplace that made it easy to shop for insurance. The reality is far from that: Of the several thousand counties served by the federal exchanges, over half have plans offered by just one or two insurance carriers.
In about 530 counties in America, families have only one choice – just one insurer in the Exchange. Fixing a defective website won’t create competition and choice where none exists today.
Now our small businesses have been told that the online SHOP Exchanges they were told they could count on for affordable health care options have been cancelled for next year. Does fixing a defective website restore that broken promise to our local businesses?
We are hoping for the best, but that November 30th deadline to fix the website problems has passed, and no one knows if the system has the capacity to enroll, accurately determine subsidies and complete a new insurance policy for all the millions of Americans abandoned when their policies were cancelled by the President’s new health care law.
To do so, the “new and improved” website will need to enroll close to 100,000 people per day, every day, in December. That’s how many who selected a plan in all of October.
Regrettably, the American public has little confidence the website is ready for prime time and this latest promise will be kept.
The clock is ticking. We are right in the middle of prime time – prime time for individuals, families and small businesses to find affordable health care that begins on January 1st.
What will these patients and families do when they show up at the hospital or need to re-order a life-saving prescription on New Years Day – and their ObamaCare plan isn’t yet available? This coverage gap is real and the White House has said it has no plan B to prevent this frightening problem.
Looking forward, the flaws in the law itself may prove to be getting worse, not better.
The young and healthy are not signing up, which is bad news.
In Connecticut, for example, 61 percent of enrollees are between the age of 45-64. In California, 56 percent. That’s double their proportion of the state’s population.
Without the right mix of young and old, healthy and sick, health care premiums for 2015 will skyrocket, access to care will become more limited and insurers may no longer offer coverage.
Plus, the mandate on local businesses slams into effect in 2015, forcing local companies to cut hours, or workers, or health care benefits to comply with the onerous law.
Today’s hearing is not about a new and improved marketing campaign. It’s not merely about a defective website. It’s about the real life impact of a law that is not living up to the promises made to the American people by President Obama and my Democratic colleagues.