Tuesday, December 17, 2013

OPINION: A response to President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act

By Rep. Tim Walberg

Each day I receive letters and emails from constituents who are being hurt by the President’s health care law — and it’s no wonder.

In the first six weeks since the law was launched, 225,000 Michigan residents received notices that their health insurance plans were canceled, despite President Obama’s numerous promises that “if you like your health plan, you can keep it.” But more than broken promises, too many people across Michigan and the country will now be paying higher premiums, losing their coverage, or be unable to see their preferred doctors because of this onerous law.

Jon Shackleford from Chelsea recently contacted my office saying that the premium for his high-deductible health insurance will increase from $609 a month to $731 a month.

“I am extremely angry and disappointed and frustrated. The Federal Government is harming people like me. Please let your colleagues in Congress know that your constituents are suffering under this bad law and we need relief — fast,” Shackleford wrote.

Dexter resident Julie Boonstra also needs an immediate reprieve from the law. Five years ago, she was diagnosed with Leukemia and has since found doctors and specialists that she relies on to help her in her battle. She also relies on a daily oral chemotherapy.

Fortunately, she had found a private individual health insurance plan that covers her medical expenses and treatment and allows her to see the doctors she knows and trusts.

However, in October, she received a letter from her insurance provider that her plan would be dissolved and she’d need to find a new one within the matter of weeks. Since then, she has spent hours trying to complete an application through the health care website, only to be thwarted by technical difficulties. Making matters worse, she has not been able to find out what plans will allow her to keep her doctors and cover her chemotherapy drugs.

“So what do I do?” Julie asked my office. “My life and other chemotherapy cancer patients’ lives and thousands of other high risk patients depend upon a working website. Our survival should not be based upon a website. I have fought to stay alive, sold everything to keep myself alive and the one thing that I made a priority, being insured with a great plan, was just taken away from me.”

My heart goes out to Julie and many others like her struggling under Obamacare. Unfortunately, the only way to permanently stop all these cancellation letters is a full repeal of the President’s health care law. To provide immediate relief, the House recently voted with bipartisan support for H.R. 3350, Keep Your Health Plan Act, which could allow Americans whose plans haven’t already been canceled to keep their current coverage in 2014. Though not a complete fix, it’s at least a start in addressing this harmful health care law.

Going forward we must replace this misguided law with common sense reforms that will allow individuals to purchase insurance across state lines, permit small businesses to join together to buy group health insurance, and expand the use of health savings accounts so health issues do not also become financial issues for people in Michigan.

I remain committed to fighting for Americans and providing fairness for all by working toward these common sense reforms. My hope is that the president comes to terms with the full impact of his law, and joins House efforts to keep his promise to the American people that if they like their insurance, they can keep it.