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“INSURANCE COMPANIES WERE PUT ON NOTICE”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 6, 2013) — Embattled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is testifying to the Senate Finance Committee as of press time about the difficulties with the Healthcare.gov website which launched on October 1.
Thousands of Americans have attempted to register or browse the website for insurance options but have been frustrated by downtime, error messages and mistakes communicated to insurance carriers. Some have discovered much higher premiums, deductibles, and unaffordable plans in comparison to their previous coverage.
Senator Debbie Stabenow read letters from constituents who are grateful for the passage of “Obamacare” and said, “These are good things” after eliciting responses from Sebelius which said that those with illnesses cannot be denied insurance. Lower-income Americans may qualify for federal subsidies to buy insurance, although a lawsuit challenges that pledge based on the wording of the law which indicated that “state” health insurance exchanges might provide subsidies.
Sebelius claimed that small businesses may “qualify for a new tax credit” as a result of Obamacare.
Sen. Charles Grassley referred to a letter Sebelius wrote which he said granted “exemptions” to insurance companies in regard to “fraud” which “ripped off taxpayers.” Grassley asked Sebelius if “any providers requested the exemption.”
Sebelius said “No,” and that she did not “have any discussions” with representatives of insurance companies on the matter before the launch of Obamacare. Sebelius said that HHS made a “legal determination” that the plans in question “should not be declared to be government health plans.”
On Wednesday, ABC News reported that “chaos and confusion behind the scenes” dominated the early days of the health care law rollout. The regime has not released figures on how many Americans have successfully bought health insurance since the website’s launch.
Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho said that he has been told that 100,000 people in his state have had their health insurance plans cancelled. He objected to the “new taxes” which “are now starting to hit – and squarely – the middle class.”
The cancellation of some policies held by customers with serious illness have been called “a death sentence.”
Crapo claimed that “the law is not working” and asked Sebelius why premiums are “going up, not down,” and why the law has “failed” to work as promised. Obama had told the public in 2010 that “if you like your plan, you can keep it.”
Sebelius claimed that “in the marketplace, rates have come in at 16% lower” than projected even though Crapo said that they are higher than premiums people were paying before.
Sen. Bill Nelson said that the “individual health insurance market” is being “addressed” by the Affordable Care Act because “lifetime limits” and “pre-existing conditions” do not preclude health care coverage.
Many large insurers such as Aetna and CIGNA have chosen not to participate in the state health care exchanges.
Nelson said that the poor performance of the website’s failure is “inexcusable” and asked Sebelius who would be brought to account to answer for it. The Obama regime has spent approximately $1 billion paying contractors, each of whom performed a different part of the website’s construction and may not have coordinated with each other to ensure a smooth launch. “It is not there yet,” Sebelius said. She said that “bills” submitted would be “reviewed.”
Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas stated that “warnings” issued over the summer on the readiness of the website for October 1, citing a lack of “transparency” on the part of the regime. Obama promised “an unprecedented level of openness” upon taking office in 2009.
Some believe that Obamacare is a government takeover of one-sixth of the American economy which is rife with the potential for identity fraud. Roberts accused Sebelius of “putting…sixth of our economy in jeopardy.” He said that more are “losing their insurance than are signing up on the website.”
Roberts said that Americans who have lost their coverage are looking at “life and death.” He told Sebelius that she “failed to heed the warnings” that were issued showing that adequate testing had not been carried out before October 1. Sebelius was governor of Kansas before becoming HHS Secretary.
Roberts asked Sebelius to resign in light of the criticisms he enumerated.
Sen. Bob Menendez said that several major “programs” run by the federal government have “become beloved,” such as Social Security. He accused Republicans of “spending every waking moment” trying to foil Obamacare.
Sen. Mike Enzi repeated Obama’s broken promise and reminded Sebelius that no Republican in the Senate had voted in favor of Obamacare. He said that the Healthcare.gov website still has that promise posted. He and Sen. Ron Johnson have proposed a bill which would “allow Americans to keep their insurance if they like it.”
Enzi said that premiums for his constituents whose policies have been canceled have increased dramatically. Sebelius responded that insurance companies were “put on notice” if the plans they offered did not “comply” with the requirements of Obamacare. Enzi said that “changes” made by the law are “causing some problems” because people can no longer use the doctor or hospital they used before. He also cited the increase in Medicaid recipients and the fact that Medicaid expansion does not bring in revenue to make the law work.
Sebelius admitted that the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 2012 that the states do not have to expand Medicaid was not consistent with the expectations that 100% of the states would do so.
Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland said that because of the Affordable Care Act, there is now “stability” in the insurance market.