by Andrew Mangione –
Today the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health held a critical hearing entitled, “ObamaCare Implementation Problems: More than Just a Broken Website.” This hearing came on the heels of the White House’s completely disastrous rollout of its signature piece of legislation – the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – and the widespread technological failure of HealthCare.gov.
For more than a month now, the American people have been battered incessantly with ObamaCare horror stories. From massive website shutdowns and “glitches” to the cancellation of millions of health care plans, ObamaCare has wreaked havoc on the individual lives and finances of millions of American citizens. We now know that the President’s promise that said, “If you like your health plan, you can keep it…period,” was simply not true.
Unfortunately, lost in this debate have been mature Americans and seniors and how the ObamaCare “train wreck” is impacting this important – and often vulnerable – demographic.
Demanding an answer to this very concern, Georgia Representative Phil Gingrey, M.D. (R-11th District) raised the issue with Avik Roy, an expert witness testifying before the Subcommittee. “What is the likelihood that seniors will lose access to their doctors and be forced to find new ones?” Doctor Gingrey asked. In answer to the question, Mr. Roy truthfully conceded that, “this is an emerging and increasing problem.”
Alarmingly, Roy didn’t have good news for Medicare beneficiaries either. To pay for ObamaCare, $716 billion was raided from Medicare – a significant portion from Medicare Advantage (MA) – a startling figure that has many concerned about the program’s future. Rep. Gingrey noted that of the 47 million people who participate in Medicare, “25% of them choose MA” plans. “What will happen to them?” he continued. Roy responded with a clear – and frightening – answer: “Fifty percent of MA enrollees will have to revert back to original fee-for-service Medicare.”
Roy’s testimony presents a stark contrast between what the President and Democrats have been saying about the ACA and what the reality of ObamaCare is quickly becoming. Seniors could be forced to forfeit the MA plans they like for traditional fee-for-service Medicare; fee-for-service Medicare is often marked with less accountability, transparency and consumer choice – and more waste, fraud and abuse.
“The website IT problems are just the tip of the iceberg,” Gingrey stated in conclusion. “Seniors need to be warned about what will happen to them, if it hasn’t happened already. President Obama’s ‘tech surge’ isn’t going to give back health insurance to the millions of Americans who have lost plans they liked, it isn’t going to reverse the hundreds of billions in Medicare cuts that will force seniors to cut ties with the doctors they trust, and it isn’t going to remove the regulations and taxes that shackle main street job creation.”
The simple fact is that the ACA is undercutting seniors’ ability to make their own decisions regarding their health care – a dangerous reality for many older Americans as they attempt to evaluate the few choices they have left. A reversion from MA to traditional fee-for-service Medicare will also raise out-of-pocket expenses and eliminate savings generated by MA.
Without a doubt, the points that Dr. Gingrey truthfully hammered in the hearing serve as a call and a warning on this issue, and AMAC will continue to press for more transparency and accountability from Congress and the White House, as implementation of this deeply flawed law continues to hobble along. We understand that your health care is invaluable, and we will fight to protect your ability to make important personal choices about your coverage and benefits, to increase consumer choice, and to strengthen the doctor-patient relationship.