Johnson: ObamaCare fails to deliver affordable care for ALL

The problems go beyond the technical issues

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Washington, October 29, 2013 | comments

Today U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX) delivered the following remarks during the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the significant challenges Americans have faced with the implementation and enrollment process of the Affordable Care Act – commonly known as ObamaCare.  Johnson provides first-hand experiences from constituents across Texas’ Third Congressional District.

Earlier this year, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius testified in front of the Ways and Means Committee stating confidently and repeatedly that the exchanges were ‘on track’ and would be ready for business starting October 1.  Today, it is clear the exchanges were not ready despite having three years to get the system ready.

Remarks as Prepared

“Ms. Tavenner, thank you for being here today to help us address this crisis.  I’ve been hearing from folks back home who, rightfully so, have very serious concerns and fears about their health care.

“Stephen from Plano tried to purchase insurance through the exchange; but ended up more confused and frustrated.  Operators on the 1-800 line didn’t have answers to his specific questions – they simply reiterated that anyone could sign up for the exchange but he should wait until later that evening or the next day to apply since the systems were having technical difficulties.  

“Worse, a single father and police officer in Plano went to renew his 11 year-old daughter’s insurance plan.  She has no medical problems, yet her premiums doubled.  Doubled!  These are real stories of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters who have to live with a law that up to now has completely failed them.

“Ms. Tavenner, the Administration delayed the employer mandate for one-year.  The Treasury witness before the Committee testified the reason the Administration granted big businesses a one year delay is, ‘employers and their representatives have requested transition relief for 2014 because of concerns about the difficulty or costs of complying with the employer mandate.’ 

“Secretary Sebelius has appeared before this Committee and repeatedly said that ObamaCare, ‘was ready.’  It clearly wasn’t ready.

“Doesn’t the failed launch indicate many individuals are going to have at least as much difficulty complying with the individual mandate as big businesses would’ve had with the employer mandate?  Yet from the announcement last night, you’ve only given individuals a 6-week delay?

“CMS announced 700,000 people had submitted applications for exchange coverage nationwide.  But with all the challenges, there are some serious questions about what these applicants know. 

“CBS news reported ‘the shop and browse’ feature is not giving consumers the real picture.  In some cases, people could end up paying double what they see on the website.  So how many applicants applied based on the wrong premium information? 

“But now that this problem has been identified, what specific steps are you taking today to identify who received faulty price information, apologize, and provide the right information?

“I want to bring your attention to a story which ran last week in Mother Jones with the headline:  ‘How Healthcare dot gov Could Be Hacked’.

“Let me just quote from the article:  ‘Security experts say the federal health insurance website is vulnerable to a common technique that hackers use to steal personal information.’

“Ms. Tavenner, as you may know I’m chairman of the Social Security subcommittee and one of my longstanding priorities has been to protect Americans’ Social Security Numbers. 

“So for the record, is the Obamacare website 100% safe from hackers who could steal Americans’ personal information, including their Social Security Numbers?  Yes or No? 

“Folks are confused and scared. They’ve heard the horror stories and are now experiencing them first-hand.  How can they trust the federal government to not only fix the website but more importantly give them the assurance that their personal information will be safe, that their health care will be affordable, that if they want to keep their current plan they can do so? 

“The problems do not stop at the technical failures of a website.  The real problem stems from the colossal failure to deliver what this law promised the American people: affordable health care – not just for people at a certain income level or for people purchasing insurance for the first time, but for ALL.”    

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