Op-Ed by Senator Mitch McConnell
News Democrat Leader
Many Kentuckians have found out the hard way in recent weeks that the president’s repeated Obamacare promise, “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” has been broken. But now we are learning the truth about another of the president’s broken promises: his claim that “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor” is proving false as well.
As I travel across Kentucky, I hear from many constituents who are seeing premiums increase along with higher co-pays and higher deductibles as a result of Obamacare. Adding insult to injury, these constituents are discovering that despite these higher costs, they have no guarantee that they will be able to continue using the hospital of their choice.
I heard from a constituent in Somerset who was disappointed to find out that the renowned hospital in her county, a health-care facility that many folks in that area rely on, would only be available in health plans for one of the two insurers offering coverage in her area. Many Pulaski County residents will now have to drive to London, Corbin, or Lexington to get the same level of quality care they are used to at this hospital, but now no longer have access to. These people are upset—and I don’t blame them.
This problem is particularly acute for residents of western and northern Kentucky, where many people visit doctors and hospitals in nearby bordering states. Obamacare will restrict many of them from crossing state lines to visit the doctors they have been seeing for years and trust because the hospitals where these providers work will no longer be available in their network.
I heard from one woman, a radiology technician in Paducah, that the plans available to her under Obamacare would restrict her to only two hospitals in her area and she had no access to larger facilities outside of Kentucky. “I thought the point of the health exchange was, at least as it’s been advertised, as being a little more helpful,” she said. Unfortunately for her, Obamacare is definitely not.
In fact, I’ve been hearing from many constituents in western Kentucky that a number of the hospitals and health-care providers they have relied upon will no longer be available in their network—and in many cases, they will be held responsible for 100 percent of the costs associated with services performed at these out-of-network facilities.
This is “improvement”? This is “reform”?
The truth is that the week that the Commonwealth’s Obamacare exchange opened, health insurance carriers were still scrambling to determine which hospitals would partner with them. This meant that Kentuckians were expected to sign up for coverage without knowing which of their preferred hospitals would be considered in-network and which would be considered out-of-network, and therefore not included in their coverage.
In some parts of Kentucky, individuals and families will only have two insurance carriers to choose from on the individual exchange, severely limiting their hospital choice. According to the state’s own Obamacare exchange website, the two flagship academic medical centers are no longer in-network providers for all three of the health plans offered on the individual exchange. That means if you are forced to find a plan on the exchange, you may be out of luck.
Clearly, Obamacare’s problems run so deep, and its broken promises are so pervasive, that it is impossible to identify an “easy fix” to this mess by simply tinkering at the margins. And despite the President’s announcement, it doesn’t come close to fixing the problems that so many Americans are facing right now as a result of cancelled health plans, skyrocketing premiums, and the loss of doctors and hospitals they know and trust. It represents the clearest acknowledgment that his oft-repeated pledge “if you like your plan, you can keep it” was false all along. What makes this admission even worse is the fact that it was prompted not by the heartbreaking stories of millions of Americans, but by the private pleadings of a handful of endangered congressional Democrats. Americans are becoming increasingly aware of the fact Obamacare is broken beyond repair. The only “fix” is full repeal followed by step-by-step, patient-centered reforms that drive down costs and that Americans actually want.