McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

November 6, 2013

Cole: Obamacare will continue making headlines

Ada — The Obama administration’s struggles to implement health care reform will probably dominate headlines over the next several months, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole said Tuesday.

“I do not think this is something that will stop with a website fix at the end of November,” the Oklahoma Republican said. “I hope they get it fixed; I think that’s a good thing. But I think you’re going to have bigger problems because I think the composition of the people that are signing up, from what little we can tell — it’s too soon to tell for sure — are not going to sustain the program.”

Cole touched on Obamacare and other issues facing Congress during a town hall meeting at the Ada Area Chamber of Commerce. About 35 people turned out for the event.

The federal government’s health care website, www.healthcare.gov, was supposed to make it easy for consumers to shop for insurance coverage under President Barack Obama’s health care law. The botched rollout of HealthCare.gov has raised questions about whether administration officials failed to test the site properly before launching it in early October.

A series of technical problems with the site, including a security breach that was reported earlier this week, have plagued consumers trying to sign up for health insurance and embarrassed the White House.

That’s not the only public relations problem facing the Obama administration, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Insurance companies sent out millions of cancellation notices, often noting that the canceled plans fell short of the law’s coverage requirements.

Cole said the law’s biggest problems are not related to the website. For instance, he said, many people seeking health care coverage under the law are signing up for Medicaid, because the federal government expanded eligibility for that program. As a result, those consumers are not paying premiums into the system.

Cole noted that the law requires most Americans to carry health insurance by Jan. 1. But he added that many young people are not buying coverage because it could cost them approximately $250 a month, depending on the plan and other factors.

“Now, you could not do it, and you pay a fine of $95 on your taxes,” Cole said. “And $250 a month versus $95, and I can sign up whenever I’m sick. What kind of real incentive is there if you’re 25 to get on this program? I don’t see it.”

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