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Lessons Learned

<<< Obamacare One-Year Later: Five Lessons Learned >>>

…October 2, 2014 By Representative Marsha Blackburn

One year ago, every network, every member of Congress and certainly HHS and CMS watched or tried to log into HealthCare.gov. It proved to be a long, long wait.  The collective frustration at the end of the day was the site did not work.

Despite repeatedly assuring both Congressional committees and the American public that the new marketplace and this bold new experiment on shopping for government controlled health insurance was to be smooth as silk and easy as pie, the rollout was a colossal failure for the HHS Secretary and her team. Ultimately, she admitted being responsible for the ‘debacle’ but not much has been done to eliminate the problems and clean up the process. HealthCare.gov is still broken.

The rollout was a failure, but my hope is the bureaucracy has learned some lessons. Here are five things I hope we can file away as lessons learned.   

The Federal government does not have the ability to build an aggregate web site in order to provide medical care for all Americans.

In July of 2014, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that HealthCare.gov failed to launch as promised by the Administration. GAO put the blame for this failed launch squarely on the shoulders of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Despite spending $840 million for the development of the website, it is still not working as it should. The GAO report shed light on this when they reported that CMS rushed the job and took shortcuts around critical issues in order to meet the October 1, 2013 launch goal.

Worse yet, the GAO report concluded that if CMS did not take action to improve oversight and adhere to standard contract practice, that this current enrollment period would encounter problems.

The Federal government cannot safeguard personal health information.

When HealthCare.gov was hacked in July of 2014, investigators denied that any personal information was taken. However, the hack demonstrated that the Federal government is not able to secure the massive amount of data that they are collecting.

Whenever the Federal government attempts to provide a service, prices go up.

In order to provide a one-size fits all, government-compliant insurance program, people have had their insurance policies canceled.  Government regulations have caused premiums and out-of-pocket costs (including coverage for prescription drugs) to skyrocket, forcing many to chose between healthcare and other necessities.

President Obama promised that under his government-run healthcare that the annual premium for a family would decrease by $2,500.  In fact, Tennesseans are facing double digit increases in their health insurance policies this enrollment period

When Federal cost control “experts” weigh in, taxpayers lose choice.

Narrow network refers to the manner in which insurance companies limit the number of doctors and hospitals that beneficiaries may use in order to save money.  Under Obamacare, these networks have become extremely narrow – excluding some cancer treatment centers as well as children’s hospitals.  Narrow networks are a key central cost controlling idea of the drafters of Obamacare.

 When the Federal government runs healthcare, patients lose the ability to see the doctor of their choice.

In part, because of the narrow networks in Obamacare, patients are finding that their doctor is no longer available.

However, there is another factor at play.  One survey of 700 doctors found that the majority of them have considered leaving practice because of Obamacare.  Doctors understand what Washington bureaucrats do not and that is having an insurance card is not the same as having healthcare. As more and more rules from Washington are placed on our trusted healthcare providers, they will become increasingly discouraged and find other outlets for their talents.

As we all reflect on these five lessons, one thing is clear – Obamacare does not work and must be repealed and replaced with real reforms. American families expect and deserve patient-centered solutions that will provide them with access to more affordable health care coverage. They deserve a health care system that works for them.

Marsha Blackburn is a Member of the House of Representatives serving the Seventh Congressional District of Tennessee.  She serves as Vice-Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is a Member of the Budget Committee.

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