Beyond Website Failure, Americans Face Obamacare Sticker Shock, Policy Cancellations

Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the problems Obamacare is causing for millions of Americans:

“Nearly every day, we see evidence of more Americans losing their health coverage. Just take a look at this map.
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“105,000 losing coverage in Idaho.

“215,000 in Pennsylvania.

“330,000 in Florida.

“Nearly a million in California.

“And in my home state of Kentucky about 280,000 folks are losing their private insurance as a result of Obamacare—despite the President’s repeated promises that such a thing couldn’t possibly happen. That compares with only about 5,000 who’ve been able to sign up for new private plans on the Kentucky exchange.

“In other words, so far about 56 times as many Kentuckians have lost their private insurance plans as have gotten new ones on the state exchange… hardly what you’d call a success.

“But if Obamacare has gotten off to a troubled start in Kentucky, the same is also true in many other parts of the country. And that’s why one of the most senior Senate Democrats said yesterday that Obamacare is facing a ‘crisis of confidence.’

“I’d have to agree with her.

“She cited the ‘dysfunctional nature of the website’ as just one reason for the ebbing confidence. She also pointed to the ‘cancellation of policies’ and ‘sticker shock’ as two additional points of concern.

“Well, she’s right. Americans are far less concerned about a website than they are about the availability and affordability of their health care.

“The White House has tried to dismiss stories about folks losing insurance by saying they had lousy plans to begin with, and that those Americans should be happy that the government is now forcing them to get a different one.

“But what so many have discovered is that Obamacare is actually worse.

“Take Matthew Fleischer. He’s 34 and recently wrote into the Los Angeles Times to share his experience with Obamacare. Matthew recently found out he’d be one of those 1 million or so Californians losing his health insurance, and he says he’s being funneled into an exchange plan that would drive his premiums up by more than 40%. Here’s some of what he wrote:

‘My old plan was as bare-bones as they came, so I assumed that even though the new plan would cost more, my coverage would improve under Obamacare, at least marginally. It did not.

‘Under my old plan, my maximum out-of-pocket expense was $4,900. Under the new plan, I’m on the hook for up to $6,350. Copays for my doctor visits will double. For urgent-care visits, they will quadruple. Though slightly cheaper plans exist if I decide to shop around on the exchange, I will lose my dental coverage should I switch. Needless to say, I am not pleased.’

“Matthew is just one of millions who’ve been blindsided since Obamacare’s debut last month.

“Look: Our constituents are worried. They feel deceived. They’re upset.

“And they should be. Not only with the law itself, but with the way this Administration has basically brushed their concerns aside.

“Concerns it doesn’t seem all that interested in solving.

“If the past two weeks are any indication, the Administration seems far more concerned with shifting blame.

“That’s why the President’s PR team has been scrambling to re-adjust his now-debunked promise: If you like your plan, you can keep it. But every new variation basically amounts to this: If the President likes your plan, you can keep it.

“And the truth is all these rhetorical adjustments only prove the point. They’re a tacit admission that the Administration did in fact mislead the public about Obamacare in order to pass it.

“Many of our friends on the Democrat side are starting to realize this too, and they’re starting to panic. We’ve seen some of the more vulnerable Senators even putting forward proposals that might allow some folks to keep their plans.

“From a policy perspective, Republicans welcome that. We’ve long argued that Americans should be able to purchase the plans that suit their needs, not just the plans that meet with Presidential approval.

“But the concern these Democrats are now showing seems hard to take seriously when you consider the fact that they have continued to support Obamacare for so long, even as Republicans, health officials, and policy experts across the country warned that this very thing would happen. And the fact that, in 2010, the entire Democrat caucus voted against legislation that would have specifically allowed the Americans now losing their plans to keep them.

“This doesn’t mean Republicans won’t now consider good legislative proposals. Of course we will. But for Senators looking to absolve themselves of past Obamacare mistakes, there is only one escape – it begins with repealing Obamacare, and it ends with working together on bipartisan reforms that can actually work.

“The White House keeps promising Americans that, once is fixed, everyone’s going to love Obamacare.

“But it’s hard to see how that could possibly happen.

“An I.T. guy isn’t going to give Americans their health plans back.

“An I.T. guy isn’t going to make Obamacare premiums any more affordable, or its coverage any better.

“An I.T. guy isn’t going to allow Americans to keep seeing the same doctors they like, or to continue going to the hospitals that deliver the care they want.

“And let’s not forget: There is no software fix for undoing damage this law has already inflicted on the paychecks and lost hours of our constituents; there’s no string of code for repairing Obamacare’s harm to jobs and our economy.

“The President could not be more right when he says that Obamacare is about more than a website.

“It’s about people. The people we represent.

“Folks like Matthew Fleischer.

“Folks like Edie Sundby, who I mentioned yesterday. Here’s a woman battling stage-4 gallbladder cancer who says that, because of Obamacare, she’s about to lose access to the kind of affordable care that she credits with keeping her alive for the past several years.

“And it’s about folks like a 40-year-old constituent of mine named Mark. Mark owns a small business and thought he’d be able to keep his current insurance. But then he got a letter from his insurer terminating the plan anyway. After looking at his options on the Kentucky exchange, he discovered that his monthly premiums would rise by 300 percent.

“It’s not right or fair. And here’s an important lesson here: Obamacare would not be law today if the President and his allies in Congress had told the truth about the consequences it would bring. And people like Edie and Matthew and Mark would not be in the troubling circumstances they’re in now if the President had simply been honest about Obamacare.

“So the President can keep talking about a website if he wants. But Republicans are going to keep fighting for the middle-class Americans who are suffering under this law.

“Because that’s where our focus should be.”

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