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Barrasso on Obamacare Enrollment: Americans Came, Saw, Didn't Buy

November 13, 2013

Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke about how the Obama Administration’s low health care exchange enrollment numbers confirm Americans’ low expectations for the failed law. Barrasso specifically points out that for every one person who actually selected coverage under the state or federal Obamacare exchanges, 40 people received cancellation notices.

Excerpts of his remarks:

“It has now been more than six weeks since the Obama Administration launched its health insurance marketplace. This afternoon the Obama Administration finally confirmed how few people have been able to select insurance through the exchange.

“According to the White House, only 106,105 people have selected coverage since October 1st.

“Now this doesn't mean people actually bought their coverage—it just means they selected a plan. Now, for most of these, it was through the state-based exchanges.

“So people may be wondering how the Washington -run exchange did. Only 26,794 people selected a plan through Healthcare.Gov.

“Safe to say if this was a commercial web site, the plug would have been pulled by now.

“They came, they saw, they didn't buy it. Low expectations met with even lower reality. The numbers paint a bleak picture of the confidence that the American people have in the health care law and the faulty web site created to sell it.

“The Administration's goal was for a half a million people, 500,000 Americans to sign up in the month of October. The month of October alone.

“Instead we now know that only a little over 100,000 people have actually signed up. The reason the numbers are so low and so disappointing is that the web site is totally broken and the American people are discovering that the coverage offered on the exchange often costs them more than they can afford and more than they were previously paying.

“So far the Obamacare exchanges have only succeeded at crashing people's computers or lightening their wallets.

“And to make matters worse, for every one person who has selected an Obamacare plan either from state or the federal exchanges, 40 people have received cancellation notices.

“This isn't what the President repeatedly promised and it's not what the American people deserve.

“Enough is enough. It's time to give Americans what they wanted all along, access to quality, affordable health care. It's time to stop this train wreck and ease the damage being done by this terrible law.

“To help make that happen, Senator Graham and I will soon introduce a bill that lets states opt out of some of the health care law's most burdensome provisions.

“Under the State Health Care Choice Act states could opt out of the individual mandate that requires people to buy government approved health insurance or face a tax penalty. They could opt out of the employer mandate that will force businesses to provide government approved health insurance or pay penalties. Under our bill, states could also opt out of the health care law's benefits mandates.

“These are the requirements that health insurance plans provide numerous expensive services that many people may not want, may not need, will never use, can't afford, and do not want to pay for.

“The Obama Administration has already issued hundreds of waivers to businesses and it has delayed the employer mandate by a year. States should have the same opportunity to give relief to their citizens.

“We know the numbers coming out of Wyoming. In Wyoming we see over 3,000 people have received cancellation notices, yet only 85 people have been able to select a plan.

“I was at the Target store in Casper this Saturday. A former patient came up to me, somebody I had operated on. He told me he had received a cancellation notice. A small businessman, he works hard for himself and for his family, and the insurance that he had worked for him, it was something he could afford.

“What he told me is he now has to pay a higher premium and also more out-of-pocket costs in terms of a higher co-pay and higher deductibles and he's frankly just not sure what he's going to do.

“The people I talk to tell me about all of the mandates, the higher costs, the bad side effects of the President's health care law and they tell me that this is not what they wanted in health care reform.

“Got a letter from one woman from Newcastle, Wyoming. She told me that she's losing her insurance plan also.

“The reason she's losing it is it doesn't meet the President's requirements that she have maternity coverage. As she points out, she doesn't need maternity care, she said, because she's had a hysterectomy and she doesn't like Washington telling her that she has to pay twice as much to get a plan that covers it—something doesn't want, will never use, doesn't need, can't afford.

“When it comes to health care and health care coverage, one size does not fit all.

“States should be free to help the citizens of those states to get the care they need from a doctor they choose at lower costs.

“A lot of people in this country don't want all these new mandates, all the burdens and the higher costs.

“All they actually wanted was President Obama to keep the promises to allow them to have what the President promised them, that they could keep the insurance and the doctor that they already had. After all, that's what the President said.

“So we have millions of people getting letters from their insurance company canceling their insurance plans. And as of today I know that number is over 4.2 million.

“Over 42 people cancelled for every 1 that actually got insurance through the exchange.

“And the reason, one of the reasons for all of the insurance plans being canceled in spite of what the President told repeatedly the American people is something called the grandfather regulation that the Obama administration actually wrote.

“The President's own people wrote the regulation so that people can't keep the insurance that they want in spite of the President's repeated promises.

“This was a rule that the Obama administration wrote to force more people off the insurance plans that they had before the law was passed and forced them into new Washington -approved plans.

“Well, three years ago republicans saw that this regulation was going to lead directly to the millions of cancellation letters that have now gone out across the country.

“So my colleague from Wyoming, Senator Enzi, took the lead and he took to the Senate floor to try to stop this destructive rule from the Obama Administration.

“He introduced a bill that would immediately overturn the Administration's restrictive regulations about people keeping their plans.

“Senator Enzi pointed out back then three years ago that the Administration's rule would have caused millions of people to lose their insurance they had and that they liked, and he was right—and the Washington Democrats here on the floor of the United States Senate didn't seem to care.

“Every Democrat member of this body, every Democrat in the United States Senate voted to make sure that the restrictive regulations stayed on the books.

“And because of that vote, now we have over four million Americans looking for new insurance plans that satisfy Obama administration mandates but they've lost their insurance in spite of the President's repeated promises that if they like what they have, they can keep it.

“Many of them, like my friend and former patient who I ran into this past weekend in Casper, many of them are learning that their co-pays and their deductibles will be much higher than the plans that they have lost.

“Once they get those plans, many of them are going to find out that their costs have increased. But not just that, their choice of doctors has shrunk as well. They may not be able to go to their family doctor because he or she won't be covered by their new plan anymore.

“Now last week President Obama finally admitted that he and his Administration weren't, as he said, as clear as we needed to be.

“Not as clear as he needed to be? That is what the President regrets? That he wasn't as clear as he needed to be.

“Millions of people who are losing their doctors, they don't want an apology. They don't want a new government handout. What they want is what they had before this law came into effect. They want President Obama to live up to his promise and to allow them to keep the coverage that they had and they like and that worked for them.

“Even former President Bill Clinton has called for a change. Remember the Obama Administration has called President Clinton the so-called ‘secretary of explaining stuff.’ They had him traveling the country trying to convince people that their health care law was going to work out well for everybody.

“Well now it looks like he's trying to explain to President Obama how badly the President's own health care law has hurt Americans who are losing access to their insurance plans and to their doctors.

“Bill Clinton said just the other day, he said, ‘Even if it takes a change to the law, the President should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got.’

“Well, that's exactly right. Not only should President Obama take steps to keep his promise to the American people, he should support Republicans who want to help all Americans who are being harmed by the President and the Democrats' terrible health care law.

“Today's enrollment numbers show what a disaster that law has been, and the President should support the State Health Care Choice Act so that states can serve their citizens and opt out of this terrible law.