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Affordable Care Act Debut is Disastrous

By Dan Lipinski
Southwest News-Herald
 
The roll-out of the Affordable Care Act has been nothing short of disastrous.
 
Despite assurances from the president that you could “keep your plan if you like it,” millions of Americans are finding that is not the case and receiving cancellation letters from their insurers because their coverage doesn’t comply with the new law.
 
Healthcare.gov, the website that is supposed to allow people to sign up for coverage and is critically important to the law’s overall success, didn’t work for weeks and still is riddled with bugs and glitches. The situation is improving, but errors persist.
 
For those who can sign up through the website, the insurance providers say the applications given to them are sometimes duplicated and often incomplete. In some cases, applications submitted through the website aren’t even making it to the insurance carriers, raising serious concerns about the safety of the personal information being sent.
 
All of these stories are inexcusable and unacceptable.
 
With the Dec. 23 deadline to enroll for coverage that’s effective on Jan. 1 a little more than a week away, many of you are understandably concerned and angry about what is going on. So am I.
 
I did not vote for the Affordable Care Act because — among other problems in the legislation — I felt it did not do enough to rein in the skyrocketing health care costs for the working families I represent. I also believed it is fiscally unsustainable and will only wind up contributing to the country’s skyrocketing debt.
 
While I could not support the law, I am committed to doing everything I can to fix the multiple problems with it. What we cannot do is go back to the status quo.
 
Since the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, I have authored, co-sponsored, or voted for more than 20 pieces of legislation to institute needed changes.
 
In October, in response to the initial problems with healthcare.gov, I introduced the Health Care Access Fairness and Penalty Delay Act to require the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services to certify when the healthcare.gov website is fully operational. Once the website is deemed operational, people would have 90 days to enroll in a health care plan. The penalties to comply with the law’s individual mandate would not start until 30 days later. We need to have an outside entity judging whether healthcare.gov is really working, and Americans should not be punished because of the administration’s failure to have the website functioning.
 
I recently cosponsored the If You Like Your Health Plan, You Can Keep it Act to allow insurance companies to continue offering plans to existing customers that the law currently requires them to cancel. Under the bill, there is no time limit on how long these plans can be renewed, holding the administration to its promise to Americans that they would not lose their coverage once the Affordable Care Act took effect.
 
Just last week, I led the effort to request that the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office conduct the independent, comprehensive assessment of healthcare.gov that Americans deserve. The report will help Congress determine if an extension of the open enrollment period and a delay of the penalties imposed on those who do not carry health insurance are necessary.
 
If you have questions or comments about how the Affordable Care Act works and how the law affects you, you are welcome to call any of my district offices. The contact information is available at lipinski.house.gov.
 
I am committed to working with you and on your behalf to develop a health care system that really works for all Americans.
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