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Bridget Johnson

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December 18, 2013 - 3:35 pm

Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) today introduced legislation to require the administration to open Obamacare enrollment and disclose premium increases to Americans before the 2014 midterm election.

Barrasso, a doctor, said on the Senate floor today that he met yesterday with a Wyoming insurance commissioner, and was told “fewer than 1,000 people have been able to sign up, but thousands and thousands have had their insurance canceled under the law.”

“The real damage is going to start on January 1,” he said. “People are finding out they can’t keep their doctor. We’re seeing that with seniors on Medicare. We’re seeing that with children who are going for cancer care.”

Barrasso said one Senate staff member was signing up and was asked for his bank account number and PIN, and he called the help line. “He had to wait a long period of time to get through, as the experience has been for many Americans. They said, no, no, that’s not the regular web site. That must be some kind of a scam trying to fraudulently take your information.”

The average deductible is now over $5,000 for people in bronze plans, the senator noted.

“Now I look at what a decision made by this administration very recently, a decision to delay next year’s open enrollment season until after the midterm elections. To me, this is a blatant political move, a blatant political move, and they snuck out the announcement just days before Thanksgiving. So what kind of announcement is the administration going to try to sneak out now just before Christmas?” Barrasso said. “The enrollment period for insurance coverage in 2015 was set to begin October 15, 2014 and then end in December. Now it won’t begin until November 15th. Well, why in the world would they need to delay it for a month? Enrollment in a government health insurance exchange has been a disaster, but the administration says it’s fixed all the problems.”

“So why do they want to delay it for a month? What’s the difference between October 15th and November 15th? …What they’ve done is they’ve moved it from a couple of weeks before the election to a couple of weeks after Election Day 2014.”

The Premium Disclosure Act sets the exchange’s opening date of October 15th, 2014, in statute “so that Democrats can’t change it to meet their political goals around an election.”

“Second, the bill says that the Obama administration has to make premiums and cost-sharing requirements public 30 days before the open enrollment begins, so people will have this important information in mid-September making it easier for families to budget and to plan,” Barrasso said.

“The Department of Health and Human Services has previously said it didn’t have this authority and that’s why they said we need to wait until October 1st to find out what premiums would be this year. Well, this bill would specifically give the Administration the authority so they’ll have no more excuses for hiding health insurance cost increases from the American people.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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