It is simply unacceptable for Alaskans to bear the brunt of the Administration's mismanagement of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and that is the message U.S. Senator Mark Begich delivered to President Obama today.
In a two-hour White House meeting with a select group of senators, Begich told the President of Alaskans' increased frustration with an unworkable website, technical glitches and inaccurate information about peoples' individual situations. Begich demanded the administration fix the problems immediately so Alaskans, including the 55,000 eligible for subsidies to lower monthly premiums, can realize the many benefits due to them as a result of the health reform law.
"It's absolutely unacceptable in this day and age that the administration can't deliver on the promises it made to all Americans because of technical problems with a website," Begich said. "Alaskans should be appreciating the critical benefits of the Affordable Care Act but there is an understandable crisis in confidence because the administration has yet to get it off the ground."
Sen. Begich also explained his frustration that many who need access to health care the most are the ones being hurt by the administration's lack of improvements to the health care rollout. The new law prevents insurance companies from denying or dropping coverage for people who are sick or have existing health problems.
"The bottom line is that we must get the site up and running smoothly so that Alaskans can get the care they need," Begich said. "Before the Affordable Care Act, 34 percent of Alaskans who applied for health insurance each year were denied by their insurance companies. These are most often people with pre-existing conditions - those that need medical care the most."
Sen. Begich also noted that states such as Kentucky and Washington, which developed and manage their own sites, have experienced far fewer technical problems. The State of Alaska opted not to accept the no-strings-attached federal funding to plan its own health care website, has deferred management of the program to the federal government and has been of little assistance to Alaskans on the benefits of the ACA.
"Despite multiple opportunities for the State of Alaska to take the lead, they passed on their chance to create a health care exchange and website that suited the unique needs of Alaskans," said Sen. Begich.