Sep 23 2013
Insurance Exchanges Are Scheduled to Begin on October 1
In less than two weeks, the President’s controversial health-care law will face a major test: Meeting the open enrollment start date for its insurance “exchanges.” These state-based exchanges are where many Americans will be forced to buy a government-mandated health-care plan.
It is no secret that Obamacare has been fraught with problems since it became law three years ago. According to a recent analysis by the Congressional Research Service, the Obama Administration has failed to meet half of the law’s deadlines. Key provisions have been delayed, such as the mandate for employers to provide insurance if they have 50 or more full-time employees. Even President Obama has acknowledged the law’s flaws, signing 14 pieces of legislation to amend, rescind, or repeal parts of it.
Public Disapproval Reaches New Highs
As the October 1 deadline looms for the insurance exchanges, public disapproval has never been higher. A new USA Today/Pew Research Center poll reveals 53 percent of Americans do not support the President’s health-care overhaul. A recent survey by CNN/ORC International shows 57 percent are against all or most of the law’s proposals.
Joining the unpopularity is widespread confusion about what exactly the 2,700-page law entails. One poll found many young people do not realize that every American will be forced to purchase insurance next year or pay a fine. Experts say the exchanges will not work if young adults choose not to enroll.
Americans Weary of Broken Promises
Misgivings about the health-care law are hardly surprising, given the long litany of broken promises. The President had assured Americans that the law would lower premiums and not endanger the health-care plans of those currently insured. Instead, consumers are bracing for the “sticker shock” of higher insurance rates, and a growing number of companies have decided to drop or change their coverage options.
Some employers have downsized staffs and cut hours to avoid burdensome mandates, drawing the ire of labor unions that were once among the law’s leading supporters. In July, three major unions sent a letter to Democratic leaders Sen. Harry Reid (Nev.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) expressing their concerns that the law will lead to poorer health-care coverage for union members and “destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week.”
At this point, the exchanges have not met expectations as marketplaces of choice, competition, and affordability. Several large insurers have already opted not to participate, citing uncertainty about the law’s impact. Challenges with technology to get the online networks operational have also raised alarm, prompting one expert to forecast a “rocky” start.
Efforts Continue to Repeal, Replace
I remain a staunch opponent of the President’s health-care law and will continue to fight for its full repeal. Our aim should be true health-care reform, not policies that force families and businesses to shoulder higher costs.
A number of efforts are underway to prevent the law from taking effect. In the Senate, I recently cosponsored legislation to delay the law’s heavy-handed mandates, including the requirement for every American to purchase health insurance. Introduced by Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the legislation would offer individuals and families relief while lawmakers work on market-driven, patient-focused solutions. A similar bill passed earlier this year in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who helped write the health-care law, was right to call its implementation a “train wreck.” So far, Obamacare has been characterized by its problems – not its results. Repealing this costly, intrusive law is the first step toward real reform.