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Barrasso: Americans Deserve to Know Obamacare Premiums Before They Vote

December 18, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke about how the White House continues to try to do anything to hide the cost of the President’s health care law on the American people. Barrasso also outlined the “Premium Disclosure Act” that he introduced today with Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) to give Americans the transparency they deserve when making important health care decisions for their families.

Excerpts of his remarks:

“With the end of the year rapidly approaching, Americans are gathering with family, with friends to celebrate the holidays, to count their blessings, but from what I heard last weekend in Wyoming and on a telephone town hall meeting Monday night, very few people are thankful for the President's health care law.

“I met yesterday with a Wyoming Insurance Commissioner. Fewer than a 1,000 people have been able to sign up, but thousands and thousands have had their insurance canceled under the law.

“So many more people are suffering because of the law than are people that are potentially able to benefit. To me, this law, forced down the throats of the American people, supported unanimously by the Democrats in this body, it's continuing to disrupt people’s lives and to cause them very real harm.

“After a year of false starts and failures, what we've seen, we’ve seen the President's health care law is nothing more than a collection of deception, delays, and disappointments.

“If you just look at the headlines, the biggest disappointment was the launch of the Healthcare.Gov web site in October. It’s a total disaster, but I will tell you, it really is just the tip of the iceberg.

“The web site failures are what people have seen across the country, and that's the most visible, and it has obviously been the cause of concerns and jokes on by the late-night comedians.

“But the real damage is going to start on January 1st.

“People are finding out they can't keep their doctor. We're seeing that with seniors on Medicare. We're seeing that with children who are going for cancer care.

“We're finding people having a harder time finding a doctor, even having to make choices as they go to the web site to say, well, do I want to keep my doctor or do I want to keep the hospital that I go to, or I do want to keep the drug coverage I have and many people are finding they can't find any plan that will let them keep everything that they have now, in spite of the President's promise.

“We're hearing more and more stories about fraud and identity theft across the across the country related to the health care web site, including a Senate staff member who was signing up and that asked for his bank number and pin number, and he called the help line.

“He had to wait a long period of time to get through, as the experience has been for many Americans. They said, no, no, that's not the regular web site. That must be some kind of a scam trying to fraudulently take your information.

“And of course there are higher co-pays and deductibles that people are seeing the average deductible is now over $5,000 for people in bronze plans. So that's what's continuing to happen with this health care law.

“So October was just about the web site. January is going to be about real people, their lives and their ability to get affordable, quality care from the doctors that they know and doctors they trust.

“The Obama Administration made a lot of promises about this law. The Administration has known for months—I believe, even for years—the Administration has known that many of the promises just were not true.

“They knew that people would lose their doctors, and they knew that millions of people would lose their health insurance plans. But instead of leveling with the American people, the White House chose to mislead them. It continues to mislead them today on one important issue after another.

“A respected group, has come out with, who their role is they say ‘sorting out the truth in politics’—they've come up with their ‘lie of the year.’

“And their ‘lie of the year" for 2013 they attribute to President Obama who said, ‘if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.’

“The lie of the year to the American people, which is no surprise then that the President's approval ratings continue to plummet.

“Now I look at what a decision made by this Administration very recently, a decision to delay next year's open enrollment season until after the midterm elections. To me, this is a blatant political move, a blatant political move, and they snuck out the announcement just days before Thanksgiving. So what kind of announcement is the Administration going to try to sneak out now just before Christmas?

“The enrollment period for insurance coverage in 2015 was set to begin October 15, 2014 and then end in December. Now it won't begin until November 15th.

“Well why in the world would they need to delay it for a month? Enrollment in a government health insurance exchange has been a disaster, but the Administration says it's fixed all the problems.

“So why do they want to delay it for a month? What's the difference between October 15th and November 15th?

“Well, I believe it's because the Administration is in a panic mode and it will do anything he can to hide the cost of the health care law on the American people—hide the skyrocketing costs.

“What they’ve done is, they've moved it from a couple of weeks before the election to a couple of weeks after Election Day 2014. 

“The American people don't need more lies. What they need from their President is for the President to come clean about the terrible effects of the law. The fact is many Americans can't keep their coverage, can't keep their doctor, and they can't afford this law.

“The Associated Press has put out a poll the other day—the headline was: ‘Health law seen as eroding coverage.’ According to the poll, 69% of people say their premiums will be going up. 59% say their deductibles and co-payments will be increasing.

“People can't afford those kind of price increases—this whole redistribution of assets and wealth of the American people.

“People were told that they are health care costs were going to go down by this President. Instead they're seeing it's going up.

“The Obama Administration doesn't want people learning about their next increases right before the 2014 election, so they're trying to hide the truth.

“That's why today Senator Alexander, Senator Enzi, and I plan to introduce a bill to give the American people the transparency that they deserve when they're making important health care decisions for their families.

“We're calling this bill, ‘The Premium Disclosure Act,’ and it will do a couple of important things.

“First, our bill sets the exchange's opening date of October 15th, 2014 in statute so that Democrats can't change it to meet their political goals around an election.

“Second, the bill says that the Obama Administration has to make premiums and cost-sharing requirements public 30 days before the open enrollment begins, so people will have this important information in mid-September making it easier for families to budget and to plan.

“The Department of Health and Human Services has previously said it didn't have this authority and that's why they said we need to wait until October 1st to find out what premiums would be this year. Well, this bill would specifically give the Administration the authority so they’ll have no more excuses for hiding health insurance cost increases from the American people.

“Americans wanted a very few simple things from health care reform. They wanted better access to care. Washington Democrats gave them less access.

“They wanted lower costs but Washington Democrats gave them higher costs.

“They wanted help. Washington Democrats have caused them harm.

“This bill will help add some transparency and shed light on things that the Obama Administration doesn't want the American people to see.

“The President's health care law has been a failure, can't be fixed just by delaying one more part or by sending out the spin doctors one more time or by having one more press conference.

“I hope that when we return after the New Year that President Obama and Democrats in Congress will be ready to sit down with Republicans to talk about real bipartisan solutions that puts patients and families first.”