Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) today introduced legislation that would reverse the Obama administration's recent decision to delay next year's Obamacare insurance enrollment deadline until after the 2014 election. "The Premium Disclosure Act" would also require the administration to provide premium increase and cost-sharing information to Americans prior to open enrollment so they have time to make decisions about their health care.
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that enrollment in the Obamacare exchanges for 2015 would begin Oct. 15 of next year. But after two months of negative public reaction to the exchange's high premiums, deductibles and co-insurance, agency officials delayed enrollment and disclosure of next year's insurance cost increases until after the 2014 elections.
This legislation will also make it easier for families to plan for expenses in 2015 by requiring HHS to disclose health insurance plan and cost information 30 days in advance of open enrollment. For the current open enrollment season, agency officials were not required to disclose any information and did not do so until the exchanges opened on Oct. 1.
Alexander, the senior Republican on the Senate health committee, said: "The only Americans the Obama administration's delay will help is Democratic politicians who voted for Obamacare, because it delays disclosure of some of the law's most insidious effects for 2015 until after the election. This legislation would stop the administration from playing politics with Americans' health care, and ensure that families will know what the costs will be well before the exchanges open."
Barrasso said: "The decision to delay the enrollment season by a mere month adds to the Administration's long record of misleading the American people about this health care law. Instead of trying to hide the skyrocketing costs, they need to come clean about the terrible impacts of this law. The fact is that many Americans can't keep their coverage, can't keep their doctor and can't afford this law. Our bill will deliver the transparency that the American people deserve when making important health care decisions for their families."
Enzi said: "Earlier rounds of health care mandates were not popular, so the Administration has sought to delay as many of them as possible until after the next election. Our legislation would not only prevent this political move, but would make sure families have premium and cost-sharing information in time to make more informed decisions for themselves."
The two-page bill sets the open enrollment dates of the exchanges from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 in statute, rather than after the November 2014 mid-term elections as the Obama administration currently has planned. It also requires the administration to provide American families with notice of any premium increases and cost-sharing requirements 30 days before open enrollment. Alexander noted that the 30-day notice -- which HHS says is not possible -- is the same that seniors receive for Medicare Advantage, a program that provides private insurance options under Medicare.
HHS announced in November that it will delay the beginning of the next Obamacare enrollment season by one month, until Nov. 15, 2014, after the midterm elections, instead of beginning open enrollment season the department's previously announced date of Oct. 15.