Obamacare: One Month In
The healthcare exchanges have been up for a month now. The reports of glitches, account creation failures, and revelations of serious design flaws have been all over social media and the mainstream news. Many who were actually able to browse the plans available on the exchange found high premiums, high deductibles, and limited to no out-of-network coverage. In addition to the technical challenges and a general lack of affordable options, tax subsidies, meant to decrease costs for those who need assistance, weren’t available online in Colorado for the first month.
Recent news reports say that the number of successful signups on the federal exchange in the first days registered in the single digits, as of last week fewer than 50,000 had signed up for a plan through the federal exchange. Likewise, registration numbers for Colorado’s state exchange are well below the pace needed to reach set goals, and as has been seen in other states, most of the new registrants to the site have been put on Medicaid rather than a private plan offered on the exchange.
At the same time, people around the country have received notices which inform them of their policy being cancelled, despite the President’s promise that “…if you like your insurance, you can keep it. Period.” The Obamacare law included a clause to allow certain health care plans offered before implementation to be grandfathered.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration created a set of standards so narrow that the grandfathered plans would quickly wither on the vine and cause insurance providers to cancel them completely. According to news reports, the Obama administration knew about the inevitable cancellations for months and continued to falsely promise that individuals could keep their plan if they liked it.
My opponent, Mark Udall, also claimed that healthcare consumers would have the option to keep their health insurance if they liked it. In 2009, prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Udall said in an interview that, “If you have an insurance policy you like, doctor or medical facility that provides medical services to you, you’ll be able to keep that doctor or that insurance policy.”
A year later, when given a chance to support a GOP measure in the Senate that would have blocked implementation of the rule responsible for the forced cancellations of plans, Udall voted against the measure and against the interests of many Coloradans.
Recently, my campaign set up a website where people can submit their stories about their health insurance cancellations. One story involved a mother of two special needs children with pre-existing conditions. Their insurance plan was cancelled because Obamacare declared it insufficient for lacking dental and vision. Despite the family having those benefits through other avenues, the plan did not meet the standards and was cancelled.
As the mother described it, their new plan has “a higher deductible, cost more, and a different network provider. We cannot keep our plan and cannot keep our doctors!”
Mothers and fathers, young couples, and single individuals across Colorado and the nation are sitting around the kitchen table to discuss the health care options and costs for themselves and their families. We need to join this discussion and offer real solutions that lower costs and increase options for quality care.
Another story from Loveland, Colorado involves an individual being shifted to Medicaid. According to the submission, this person received a cancellation notice from their current provider. After looking over options, they found that they would have to move to Medicaid. Unfortunately, her doctor doesn’t take Medicaid and the largest health clinic in her area isn’t taking on new Medicaid patients.
This is just another example of how backwards the policies that come out of D.C. are. Instead of shifting people to Medicaid, increasing the burden on tax payers, we should discuss innovations that would offer those on Medicaid a way to provide more for themselves than the government ever could.
The natural diversity of the free market has served our nation’s needs for many years, and it should be no different when it comes to healthcare. If we want to see an increase in quality and access to healthcare while also decreasing costs, we must embrace the solutions that seek to incentivize choice, flexibility, quality and freedom.
Mark Udall campaigned on Obamacare. He claimed that you would be able to keep your plan if you liked it. He sent out press releases and constituent mailers filled with claims of success. When given the opportunity to look out for the many Coloradans adversely impacted by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, he chose to stand with his party and vote against legislation that would have protected consumers’ healthcare plans.
Only now that Obamacare has begun to show signs of weakness in public polling, has my opponent decided to favor of a delay in the tax placed on those who haven’t purchased health insurance.
To deliver quality, affordable care we need to change the way Washington does business. That’s why I am running to replace Mark Udall in the U.S. Senate.