Walorski Shares Hoosier’s Health Care Story at First Ways & Means Hearing
Oversight Subcommittee Examines Effectiveness of Obamacare Individual Mandate
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today at a hearing shared the story of a Starke County constituent whose health care experience highlights the failure of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to increase competition and expand patient options.
In today’s hearing, the first since Walorski joined the House Ways and Means Committee, the Subcommittee on Oversight examined the effectiveness of the individual mandate and its impact on patients.
“The American people were repeatedly promised that if they liked their doctor and their health care plan they could keep them, but these promises were repeatedly broken,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “I’ve heard from too many Hoosiers facing higher costs and fewer choices under Obamacare, including one resident of Starke County whose plan was cancelled and who was forced to choose from options that don’t cover his doctors. This is why we are working to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a stable transition to a health care system that is better for patients.”
Video of Walorski’s remarks at the hearing is available here. The text of her remarks as prepared for delivery is below.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
“President Obama promised over and over again: If you like your doctor, you’ll be able to keep your doctor; if you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan.
“Despite these repeated pledges, we know now that these statements were completely untrue. In the fall of 2013, millions of Americans started receiving plan cancellation notices. PolitiFact ranked President Obama’s statement as its “Lie of the Year” in 2013.
“But it wasn’t just the immediate loss of plans – people are still losing them. For example, in Indiana last year, four insurers left the exchange, leaving Hoosiers with fewer options.
“Recently, I heard from a constituent of mine from Starke County. He has had two open-heart surgeries at the Mayo Clinic that require him to be on blood-thinning and other medications, as well as periodic check-ups. He had a private health insurance policy that he liked and covered his medical needs, but in 2015, it was grandfathered out by Obamacare. He was forced to buy a health care policy on the Marketplace, but unfortunately discovered at an annual check-up at Mayo Clinic that his doctors were not “in network” because they were out of state. He was forced to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for the visit, in addition to thousands more out of pocket for his prescriptions. When he appealed to the Indiana Department of Insurance, he was told there was no Marketplace insurance plan that would cover his doctors at Mayo Clinic. He recently learned that his Marketplace plan through UnitedHealthcare won’t offer individual market plans for his area in 2017. He was forced back onto the Marketplace to find a new health plan that still will not cover his out-of-state doctors. It reinforces to me that for many Americans this law is not working as promised.
“Mr. Miller, Mr. Graham, isn’t it true that the individual mandate was supposed to increase competition on the exchanges by ensuring that people sign up, thereby encouraging insurance carriers to offer more choices and broaden their networks?
“When insurer networks have become so narrow that individuals, like my constituent, lose access to their doctors, what does that say about the mandate’s effectiveness?”
The Subcommittee on Oversight is the Ways and Means Committee’s watchdog panel, tasked with overseeing and investigating issues under the committee’s jurisdiction.
The witnesses testifying before the subcommittee today were:
- Thomas Miller
Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
- John R. Graham
Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis
- John E. McDonough DrPH, MPA
Professor of Practice, Department of Health Policy & Management, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health
Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.