US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Alexander to Administration: “Why Not Put the President’s Promise Into Law?”

At Obamacare hearing, Alexander shows White House web page still promises “if you like it, you can keep it,” tells stories of 16,000 Tennesseans whose plans have been “outlawed by Obamacare”

Tuesday, November 05, 2013Liz Wolgemuth 202-228-4729

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“The president has said repeatedly, and it’s on the White House website this morning, ‘If you like your plan, you can keep it, and you don’t have to change a thing due to the health care law.’ Let me repeat, ‘You don’t have to change a thing due to the health care law.’ That’s the White House website today.” – Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 – The senior Republican on the Senate health committee today called on the Obama administration to put the president’s promise that “if you like your plan, you can keep it,” into law, pointing to the thousands of Tennesseans who have received notice that their policies are being canceled because of Obamacare.

At today’s hearing on the Obamacare rollout, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said: “The new promise is, ‘If you want health care, go find it—on a website that the Administration says won’t be working properly until the end of November.’ That is an unwelcome Christmas present—only two weeks to shop for and buy a new insurance policy by December 15 so that you’re covered next year when Obamacare outlaws your policy.”

Alexander continued, in his questions to hearing witness Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,:  “Let me suggest that a way to fix this problem of cancelled policies in the individual market is to go to a website that does work pretty well. It still says: ‘If you like your plan you can keep it and you don’t have to change a thing due to the health care law.’ That’s the White House website. And those are the president’s words in 2009. So why don’t we put those words into law?” Alexander asked, pointing to legislation introduced by Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), called the “If You Like Your Health Plan You Can Keep It Act,” which would allow Americans to remain on health care plans that have been in effect through the end of this year.

Alexander read from a letter sent to him by a Tennessee constituent named Emilie who is one of 16,000 Tennesseans enrolled in CoverTN, a state program, who are losing their policies because, Alexander said, they have “an insurance plan that Washington decides isn’t good enough for you.”

Alexander said: “She told me, ‘I cannot keep my current plan because it does not meet the standards of coverage. This alone is a travesty.’ She said, ‘CoverTN has been a lifeline ….With the discontinuation of CoverTN, I am being forced to purchase a plan though the Exchange…My insurance premiums alone will increase a staggering 410 percent. My out-of-pocket expense will increase by more than $6,000 a year – that includes subsidies. Please help me understand how this is ‘affordable.’”

Alexander said to Tavenner: “There are provisions in the [health care] law that passed in 2010 that say, if a plan doesn’t meet the maximum limits, the plan can’t be offered. So the fact is - Obamacare outlawed [CoverTN] plans and millions of Americans are having their plans canceled. Why don’t we put the president’s words into law and say ‘if you like your plan, you can keep it’ and end the debate?”

Also in his questions to Tavenner, Alexander, who has introduced legislation requiring weekly reports on the exchanges, asked: “Ms. Tavenner, don’t you know now with the improvements in the website, how many people are trying to sign up for Obamacare, how many are succeeding, what their level of insurance, what their zipcode is, don’t you already know that now?”

Tavenner said the information would come next week, when the administration has said it will release a monthly report on October enrollments.

“Next week? You are going to release it once? Why don’t you release it daily?” Alexander responded.

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**Video of Sen. Alexander’s opening statement here, and his questions here and here.

     

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