Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) spoke about the Obama Administration’s latest delay that extended the enrollment deadline for the President’s health care law. Barrasso also highlights that whatever enrollment numbers the White House claims, they still need to answer how many of these people have actually paid for insurance, are newly insured, who exactly is signing up and what type of care will they receive under the Obamacare plans.
Excerpts of his remarks:
“Madam President, this past Sunday was the fourth anniversary of President Obama's health care law.
“Four years ago, Democrats in Washington were confident that the law that they forced through Congress would be extremely popular today. Instead, the law has broken almost every significant promise that President Obama made about the law itself. And Americans regrettably have been left to deal with the consequences.
“The actual law doesn't even look the same as it did four years ago because President Obama has lawlessly rewritten so much of it.
Obama Administration Delays Enrollment Deadline
“Last night, word leaked about the latest change. Now the administration is getting rid of the March 31st deadline for some people to sign up for insurance in the government exchange.
“According to this morning's ‘Washington Post,’ if people just check a box on the website saying they're having trouble signing up, they'll get an extension until at least mid-April. I wouldn't be surprised if another extension after that and then again beyond.
“Remember, the Obama Administration said that seven million people would have to sign up by March 31st in order for this open enrollment period to be a success. That's the administration's words. But with less than a week to go, they are two million people short of their goal.
“That's why they're allowing this extension, because they are in a panic, a panic that not enough people are signing up.
“Now the White House may come out and say that they've come close to their seven million target. They may even claim that they were somehow able to find all of the two million people they needed to buy insurance on the exchanges.
“But looking at some of the dubious numbers the administration has released so far, we can predict that there will be many unanswered questions about the numbers, whatever numbers the White House claims to now be the new numbers.
First Question: How Many People Signing Up for Obamacare Actually Have Insurance?
“The first thing we should ask about the numbers is how many of the people signing up actually have insurance?
“Apparently that doesn't seem to matter much to the administration, how many people who go to the website actually have insurance. The Obama Administration released a report showing how many people actually went through the sign-up process on the website through the exchanges, well, those people don't actually have insurance until they write a check, pay their premiums, make sure that they do have insurance.
“The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius said recently that she had no idea in the world, no idea at all, about how many people had paid and how many had not paid. And she's the President's Secretary of Health and Human Services. No idea.
“Now, insurance companies say that they've given Washington plenty of information to know the answer to that question. But the person in charge, no idea.
“One industry official told Politico, ‘If they have not processed those yet and compiled the data, that is a choice they are making. It is a choice they are making, but they have the data.’
“So the White House can say whatever they want and they tend to do that. They have the data. They are not admitting the truth. Why isn't the administration playing it straight with these numbers?
“Well, the point of Obamacare was to get people insurance, not just register them on a website. A recent survey by McKinsey and Company found that only 53% of the previously uninsured people who had selected a plan actually then went and paid the first month's premium. So only about half of the people that didn't have insurance before, who signed up on the website actually went to pay for and buy the insurance. That's question number 1.
Second Question: How Many People Are Newly Insured?
“Question number 2 is how many people are newly insured? That was the major goal of the Obamacare health care legislation. Washington Democrats said time and time again that we needed a massive overhaul of the entire health care system in this country in order to cover the uninsured.
“Well, many of the people signing up today with people who have signed up are doing so because the insurance that they had, that they liked, that worked for them, that they could afford, that insurance under the health care law was canceled.
“The President's health care law forced them to switch. How many people? We don't know that either. One Health and Human Services official admitted as much. He said, that's not a data point, he said, that we are really collecting of any sort of systematic way. Government officials overseeing this part of the website were not even collecting the data.
“The goal of the whole policy plan was to get people who didn't have insurance onto insurance. They are not collecting that data point at all.
“It turns out that the paper point for patients on Obamacare included a question, reasonably so, as to whether that person already had insurance because it's information we want to know.
“But the bureaucrats and the contractors who apparently were overseen by the President of the United States who created the healthcare.gov website, the website that the President said was going to be easier to use than Amazon, for insurance cheaper than your cell phone bill, well, apparently they just dropped the question.
“Why did they do that? Why did they drop the question that was on the paper form and leave it off of the website to ask if somebody actually had insurance before? That's what they did. Isn't it something the Obama Administration would want to know if they wanted to be honest with the American people?
“The best estimate has been from this McKinsey survey. They figured that by early February only about a quarter of the people who signed up for Obamacare insurance were actually newly insured. 3/4 of them were just changing out insurance, many of whom who had their insurance cancelled.
“If that number holds, the exchanges might end up covering fewer than two million previously uninsured Americans this year.
“Now, think of how much simpler, how much more cost-effective health care reform could have been while still covering that same number of people.
Third Question: Who Exactly is Signing up for Obamacare?
“Here's the third important question—who exactly is signing up? The administration is pushing young adults between the ages of 18-34 to buy insurance. It is not happening the way the administration wants it to happen.
“Through February, less than 10%, less than one in ten of the young adults who potentially could enroll have actually done so.
“Insurance companies need lots of young, healthy people to pay premiums, pay for premiums and then not use much care in return. That's the only way that this works. Unless more of those young people sign up by the beginning of next week, theoretically now extended by checking a box, premiums are going to jump.
Fourth Question: What Kind of Care Will Obamacare Provide?
“Here's the final question—when people buy insurance through the Obamacare exchanges, what kind of care will it provide?
“Just remember what the President said. If you like what you have, you can keep it. You can keep your doctor. Easier than Amazon, cheap as your cell phone.
“People are losing access to doctors that they have known and trusted for years. We have heard from people around the country that that's happened to. But for some people, having a doctor won't mean they can actually see the doctor.
“According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, we're facing a shortage of about 900,000 physicians by the end of this decade.
“Some patients may be able to get to see a doctor but maybe not the one that they need. According to an Associated Press survey that was reported last week, only four of 19 leading cancer hospitals said that they accept the plans from all of the insurance companies in their states' exchanges.
“Well, for many other patients, their doctor is going to be spending more time looking at the computer instead of looking at them, even though they are in the same office together, because of the burdensome new rules and record-keeping requirements in the law.
“Maybe you can keep your doctor, maybe you can't. You need special cancer care. Worrisome about whether you're going to be able to get that and is the doctor going to be able to look at you and interact or is the doctor going to be staring at his computer screen instead of you in the limited time that they have because of the burdensome requirements?
“It is going to be bad for patients. So patients are going to be getting less care, and many will be paying a lot more than they were paying before. Secretary Sebelius finally conceded that the rates will continue to rise in 2015.
“The President said recently that the law, he said, is working the way it should. Is working the way it should. The President of the United States looked into the camera, said it's working the way it should. What does he think about the people on the other side who are watching him on TV?
“Does he realize how he is losing credibility with the American people when he makes blatant statements like that when they see how poorly it's working?
“I believe actually the President has no idea how the law is working, how poorly it is working or what's going to happen next. Does he really think the law is working or is it just a line that somebody wrote for him and that he read? It's hard to know.
“Does he think that double-digit premium increases are a sign that the law is working?
Obamacare is Hurting Wyoming Families
“I heard from one of my constituents the other day as we were away for the week, talking to people around Wyoming, I heard from one of my constituents.
“He put it in writing. He said Senator Barrasso, he is from western Wyoming, he said I'm sorry for the snide subject of our email, but the truth hurts. I know I am preaching to the choir, but I just wanted to share my story and my frustration.
“I know that the Majority Leader has been to the floor and said all of these stories that we tell, that they are all lies. This is a person that lives in Wyoming. This is what's happening in that person's life.
“He said we have finally just finished applying for health care through the exchange and found out that our health insurance will double if we sign up. Fortunately for us, we are covered under our own insurance until this December. Our current plan is $505 a month. It has a, he says, high double, $15,000 deductible, after which it's an 80/20 split. The rub for us is the following, under the construct of the subsidy plan, we would theoretically qualify based on our family's size—we have five girls and our income. But since our employer offers health insurance for me and my family, we don't qualify, so we're stuck in limbo. Nevertheless, if we go on my employer's health insurance, we will be paying over $1,000 more per each month. If we go on the health care marketplace plan, the least expensive is $1,054 a month. So this is a significant increase for our middle-class family.
“He said I thought the Affordable Care Act was supposed to help us, not hurt us. We are panicked. We are panicked on how we are going to pay for this in December. We will be taking all of the money that was going into savings to pay for a terrible insurance plan. Please help us and share our story with people who say this Act is helping the middle class.
“I wish the Majority Leader were here to hear this. Please share this story, our story, a true story about a family in Wyoming with those who say the Act is helping the middle class.
“Madam President, it clearly is not. Does it sound like the law is working for this man and his family? President Obama said it's working just the way it is supposed to work. It's not working for this man and his family.
“Our health care system needed reform, it needs it now more than ever. We all know that. What Americans got with the Obama health care law was a monstrous new bureaucracy.
“It is raising costs for millions of people. It's leading to worse care and other unintended consequences. Now, these questions are just a small part of what the American people want to know.
Question 5: How Does the Obama Administration Define the Word Deadline?
“In fact, as of last night, I can think of another question—how does the Obama Administration define the word deadline?
“Kathleen Sebelius in the House the other day said hey, the deadline is March 31st, not going to extend it. It's the deadline. We are not under any circumstances going to extend it. The White House press secretary said the same.
“Are there any deadlines at all for anything in this administration? Is it all on the honor system?
“As we start to get answers to these questions, we're going to see even more clearly that this health care law has failed patients, it has failed health care providers and it has failed taxpayers.
“The President needs to admit that his law is not working. He needs to accept Republican ideas to replace it. Americans need better access to quality, affordable health care, not just broken promises, tired excuses and unanswered questions.”