Whatever one thinks of Obamacare, it is now clear that the law was sold under false pretenses.
When Congress was debating health-care reform back in 2009 and 2010, President Obama and his Democratic allies repeatedly promised the American people that their plan would reduce costs and expand coverage without disrupting anyone’s existing insurance–“period.” Had Americans known that Obamacare would actually raise premiums and cause millions of folks to lose their health policies, it never would have become law.
Texans feel deceived, and Americans everywhere share our frustration. At least 3.5 million people have already received cancellation notices because of Obamacare, and that number will only grow larger as we approach December 31. I’ve heard from plenty of angry Texans who are being asked to pay higher premiums for Washington-mandated coverage.
The Obama Administration knew this was coming: when Administration officials were drafting the Obamacare regulations in 2010, they projected that millions of Americans in the individual health-insurance market would have to purchase new policies in order to comply.
And yet, President Obama continued to insist–unequivocally–that nobody who liked their existing health plan would have to give it up. On June 28, 2012, the day the Supreme Court delivered its ruling on Obamacare, he said: “If you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”
Such broken promises have shattered the President’s credibility. How can Texans trust anything he says about Obamacare, when so many of his past assurances have proven false?
The President is now urging Americans to contact their local Obamacare “navigators” if they need help enrolling. On Wednesday, he met with some of the Dallas-area navigators and thanked them for their service.
I’m confident that most of the (taxpayer-funded) navigators are decent, civic-minded Americans. Unfortunately, it only takes a few bad apples to commit major privacy violations such as identity theft, and the Obama Administration has not adopted the necessary safeguards.
Indeed, the Obamacare navigators reportedly include a woman who had an outstanding arrest warrant at the time of her hiring, along with former members of the corrupt left-wing advocacy group known as ACORN. At Wednesday’s Senate Finance Committee hearing, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told me it is “possible” that certain navigators could be convicted felons. Remember: these folks will be collecting sensitive tax and medical information.
The failure to establish a proper vetting system for the Obamacare navigators reflects a broader failure to address safety concerns. Just look at the Obamacare website: according to CBS News, “A deadline for final security plans was delayed three times over the summer, and final top-to-bottom security tests never were finished before the launch.”
In other words, the Administration launched the online exchanges before it could protect Texans’ personal data. So not only were the exchanges badly designed, they were also unsafe.
Republicans have said all along that Obamacare was poorly conceived and would prove unworkable. Now that our warnings have come true, we are reiterating our call for commonsense, patient-centered reforms that make both health care and health insurance more affordable and more accessible.
Members of both parties have expressed support for legislation that would allow all Americans to keep their pre-Obamacare coverage. That would be a good start, but we need to go much further.
If Congress dismantled Obamacare entirely, as I would strongly prefer, lawmakers could enact alternative reforms aimed at solving America’s biggest health-care problems. These reforms could include revising the tax code to help individuals who buy their own health insurance; allowing people to purchase health coverage across state lines and form risk pools in the individual market; expanding tax-free Health Savings Accounts; making health-care price and quality information more transparent; cracking down on frivolous medical-malpractice lawsuits; using high-risk pools to insure folks with preexisting conditions; giving states more freedom to improve Medicaid; and using provider competition and consumer choice to bring down costs in Medicare.
Such reforms would give us a health-care system with much lower costs, much better coverage, and much greater access to quality care.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is the Senate Minority Whip.