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Public Statements

CNBC - Accountability Means Making Obamacare Voluntary

Op-Ed

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By Michele Bachmann

The old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" was on full display during HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's testimony on Capitol Hill Wednesday. The television showed a split screen. On one side was the Secretary proclaiming that Healthcare.gov has never crashed. On the other side was an image of the crashed Obamacare website, which was down for the duration of her three hour testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The split screen picture said it all: The Obama administration says one thing; the facts say the opposite.

There's no more striking example of this than President Obama's oft-delivered promise that if you like your health insurance plan you can keep it--a central tenet to his sales pitch for Obamacare.

Now try telling that promise to the growing number of Americans receiving health insurance cancellation notices in the mail. 140,000 in Minnesota. 140,000 in Michigan. 279,000 in California. 300,000 in Florida. 800,000 in New Jersey. Sadly, cancellation letters in more states are sure to come.

Adding to the outrage, NBC News reported this week the Obama administration knew for more than three years that millions of Americans would lose their existing health care plans, yet continued to promise the American people that if they liked their existing plan or doctor they could keep them.

Now President Obama and his allies are spinning that broken promise to include a gigantic caveat: You can keep your plan as long as his administration likes it. Translation: Washington bureaucrats know better than families and doctors what's best for their health care.

Playing the faithful foot soldier, Secretary Sebelius opened the hearing by asking the country to hold her, not President Obama, accountable for the failed Obamacare rollout. Exactly how was left unsaid. To the private sector, accountability means some type of action. To the Obama administration, accountability means more empty words.

Evidently, government is the only industry where one can spend $400-plus million on a product launch website and get away with it still not working more than four weeks after it was released to the public.

However, the Obamacare website is just the threshold of the problems to come. Imagine the same bureaucrats who have proven too incompetent to launch a functional website being in charge of centralizing our health-care system -- one-sixth of the entire economy -- in Washington, D.C.

In addition to the cancellation letters, we already see examples of Obamacare's main features starting to take effect all over the country. Insurance premiums and deductibles are skyrocketing. Businesses are cutting full-time jobs to less than 30 hours per week to avoid Obamacare's penalty. And many workers are being laid off altogether.

This week I heard from Nathan in St. Cloud, Minn., who was told he could no longer keep his employer-based insurance that cost him $60 per month. Instead, his next best option would quadruple his monthly premium to $240 with a $6,000 deductible.

This is just one of the many stories I hear every day from constituents who are given fewer, less affordable health care options thanks to Obamacare. Who is accountable to them?

The combination of one broken promise after another and the disastrous Healthcare.gov rollout has taken its toll on President Obama. According to a new NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll, the president's approval ratings hit an all-time low this week at just 42 percent. Meanwhile, the poll also found that 52 percent of Americans believe that Obamacare is in need of a major overhaul or should be repealed altogether.

As President Obama's poll numbers drop, he would be wise to take up commonsense proposals from senators in his own party. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) has proposed legislation to allow Americans to keep their existing health-care plan, and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has called for delaying the Obamacare mandate for individuals -- the same one-year relief already granted to businesses.

Instead of coercing Americans to buy a product they don't want at a price they can't afford from a website that doesn't work, let's give them more health-care choices and make Obamacare voluntary.

-- Michele Bachmann is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Minnesota's 6th congressional district. Follow her on Twitter @MicheleBachmann.


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