Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, is downplaying the political controversy surrounding problems with the federal health care sign up. Braley says Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took full responsibility for the problems on the sign up website during a congressional hearing he was part of today. Braley says he believes Sebelius is committed to fixing the problems.
Republicans have been critical of the cancellation of insurance policies linked to the federal health care plan, but Braley says those polices are being canceled because the federal plan has better options. “A lot of the policies that are being terminated have to do with very basic forms of coverage that don’t provide the type of benefits that most Americans need in the basic health insurance plan. And that’s one of the reasons why some of these termination notices are being sent out,” according to Braley.
Braley was asked if the administration knew that these types of cancellations would happen and if the public should have been warned. He says insurance companies have been canceling policies without justification long before the so-called Obamacare was developed — but says many of the cancellations now are during renewals. “New requirements that are in place that require these policies to cover preexisting conditions, making sure women aren’t paying more than men, and the other protections — the consumer protections — in the bill, often weren’t included in some of these early polices, and that’s why I understand it that some of these notices are going out,” Braley says.
Braley is running for the open U.S. Senate seat in 2014. He was asked about the negative political reaction people have had with all the problems in rolling out the health care sign up. “It’s not a question of turning things around from a political standpoint, it’s a question of fixing the problem,” Braley says.
The congressman says he is calling for Sebelius to extend the on-line enrollment for two months to be sure that everyone can get signed up. He was then asked why he doesn’t support delaying the implementation of the health care plan for one year to work out the problems. “Because people who have been locked out of the health insurance marketplace for far too long need options, and they need access to the marketplace. And I’m confident that we can eliminate these problems,” Braley says. He says once they eliminate the problems, people will have access to many more affordable health insurance plans.
Braley made his comments during his weekly conference call with reporters.
Audio: Bruce Braley conference call 15:00