Friday, November 21, 2014

ROBERTS: Obamacare fails again and again

By PAT ROBERTS, U.S. Senator, R-Kan. | 11/22/2013

The Obama administration last week released the dismal healthcare.gov enrollment numbers for October. Fewer than 27,000 people enrolled through the federal exchange, which covers 36 states, including Kansas. Only 371 Kansans signed up in the exchange. According to multiple media reports, more than 9,000 Kansans were informed they would lose their coverage because of Obamacare. [Editor’s note: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas informed customers this week the cancellation of their policies would be delayed one year because of a recent waiver granted by President Obama.]

The simple fact is more Americans are losing their health care plans as a result of Obamacare than have been able to sign up on this disastrous website. The enrollment numbers from October demonstrate failure. Not just the failure of a website, but a failure of the underlying law, a failure to keep promises to the American people, and, above all, a failure of leadership.

The Obama administration last week released the dismal healthcare.gov enrollment numbers for October. Fewer than 27,000 people enrolled through the federal exchange, which covers 36 states, including Kansas. Only 371 Kansans signed up in the exchange. According to multiple media reports, more than 9,000 Kansans were informed they would lose their coverage because of Obamacare. [Editor’s note: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas informed customers this week the cancellation of their policies would be delayed one year because of a recent waiver granted by President Obama.]

The simple fact is more Americans are losing their health care plans as a result of Obamacare than have been able to sign up on this disastrous website. The enrollment numbers from October demonstrate failure. Not just the failure of a website, but a failure of the underlying law, a failure to keep promises to the American people, and, above all, a failure of leadership.

The president has apologized, but has done nothing to right his wrongs. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has asked to be held accountable, but has done nothing to show accountability. I did not vote for this law. No Republican voted for this law. This is President Obama’s legacy. It’s a law forced through Congress despite strong opposition from the majority of Americans. The enrollment numbers show Obamacare has and will continue to fail. It should be put to pasture, and Sebelius should resign for her failure to implement the exchange.

Repeal provision on medication

I have introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation that repeals a portion of Obamacare that prohibits people from using their medical savings account funds to buy over-the-counter medications.

My legislation restores the ability of those participating in a medical savings account, such as a Flexible Savings Account (FSA), Health Savings Account (HSA), or other similar type of medical savings account, to use the funds to purchase over-the-counter medications.

Because of Obamacare, responsible folks saving their money in FSAs or HSASs may no longer use funds from these accounts to purchase over-the-counter medications, like allergy medicine or anti-inflammatories, unless they have a prescription for the medication. That’s right. They would need a prescription for Advil.

This absurd prohibition under Obamacare takes away choice and flexibility from individuals about how to manage their health care expenses and adds yet another burden to physicians. Rather than promoting cost-effectiveness and accessibility, Obamacare directs people to potentially more costly, less convenient, and more time-consuming alternatives.

Exempting unions?

I joined several of my colleagues this week in introducing a bill called the Union Tax Fairness Act. Our bill prevents union health care plans from being exempted from the Obamacare reinsurance tax.

The reinsurance tax is scheduled to begin in 2014 and requires all self-insured plans to pay a tax for each person covered under a health plan in order to help offset the cost of care for people with pre-existing conditions. The Obama administration’s attempt to give their political allies an exemption, while still forcing this tax on the rest of us is downright wrong.

Trying to give unions special treatment under a disastrous law they helped create is pure politics. Kansans know a payoff when they see one.

Pat Roberts is a Republican U.S. senator representing Kansas.

comments powered by Disqus