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Upton hearings: Why is Michigan's Obamacare exchange broken?

Henry Payne cartoon

Henry Payne cartoon

Obamacare’s glitches are so numerous that the joke of it all has turned into a tragedy of administration incompetence during the implementation process. Michigan’s own House Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, called a hearing last Thursday to address the Affordable Care Act’s problems.

As noted during the Upton hearing more people have had health insurance canceled in the past three weeks than have purchased it from the new online exchanges. In New Jersey alone nearly 800,000 people will lose insurance, in Florida another 300,000 have already lost insurance, and in Michigan at least 146,000 people will lose their health insurance due to Obamacare regulations. This is a direct contradiction of President Obama’s repeated promises that “if you like your health insurance, you can keep it.” That is not a success story; it is a manifestation of Obamacare’s the deep-seeded problems.

During Thursday’s hearing, service providers claimed they were not prepared for the pace at which people attempted to register. That claim is hollow.

Two-million people crashed Healthcare.gov on opening day – that’s not exactly the deluge the Administration is leading people to believe. The frustration extends beyond people trying to register for insurance.

During the hearing, Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California, stated that “Amazon and Ebay do not crash a week before Christmas, and ProFlowers doesn’t crash on Valentine’s Day. So, why did Healthcare.gov crash on its launch?”  Eshoo’s comments highlight the canyon between Healthcare.gov and what consumers expect. However, even worse than the registration process is the pain that Michigan families will feel when the law is fully applied.

On average, individuals in our state will face a 26 percent increase in insurance premium costs. Women, specifically, will see a rate increase of 155 percent, or nearly $100 more per month, and young adults will see a 189 percent increase in premium costs, resulting in an average increase of $146 per month.  Adding insult to injury, these increased costs do not guarantee individuals the best plans on the market, instead these increased costs are for basic plans.

Hardworking individuals and families are skeptical about the law, and it is apparent in the low numbers of people registering for insurance on the Healthcare.gov website. Increased costs, glitchy websites, and long waits are turning people away.  As of October 17 no one has been confirmed to have successfully signed up for health insurance through the online exchange, and Michigan is not the only state with staggeringly low registration statistics.

Michiganders along with the rest of the country know Obamacare is broken, but so far the administration has refused to take responsibility. HHS Secretary Katherine Sebelius has the chance to own up to the problems tomorrow in a hearing with Chairman Upton, let’s hope she takes that chance.

Darren Littell
Darren Littell is Director of Communications for the Michigan Republican Party.