President Obama and his liberal allies in Washington and in the media are patting themselves on the back for a so-called “successful” implementation of Obamacare. But many Kentucky families and small business owners I’ve heard from know better.
The truth is that tens of thousands of Kentuckians from Paducah to Pikeville received cancellation letters for the health care plans they had—despite the president’s promise that they could keep them. Many are being forced to pay higher premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs often for a plan that offers less access to hospitals and their favorite doctor.
And now we learn that, under Obamacare, a large number of prisoners are being enrolled in Medicaid as they leave jails and prisons—potentially taking resources away from the women, children, and disabled for whom the Medicaid program was created in the first place.
One small-business owner from Paducah contacted me to say that the small group health care plan she offers her employees will not be renewed because it does not meet the requirements of Obamacare. She goes on to say, “I was also informed that all of my employees will be notified of the cancellation, [which] will affect morale and productivity of our workers…this reform is and will continue to be the downfall of our economy.”
Another constituent of mine from Pikeville wrote: “I received a letter a few days ago from my insurance company. The letter said that my employer plan did not meet the standards set by the Affordable Care Act, which I took as meaning it doesn’t contain a lot of the…add-ons set by that ridiculous piece of legislation.”
Finally, I heard from another woman in central Kentucky about the costs associated with her Obamacare plan. She said, “I am on three medications. Two years ago the copay was $60 for each one. Now, my medications are costing me a little over $700 a month…our health insurance was $92 every two weeks, and now it is $160 every two weeks. These so-called ‘free’ services aren’t free—somebody has to pay for them!”
She is absolutely right. A recent analysis by the financial services company Morgan Stanley found that premium rates in Kentucky have increased by 29 percent on the individual market and 30 percent on the small group market this year relative to 2013. These rate increases put Kentucky in the top 10 for highest increases amongst all 50 states—increases due to Obamacare.
These findings are consistent with other estimates conducted across the country and in Kentucky, showing that Obamacare is forcing Americans and Kentuckians to pay more for health care out of their own pockets.
Finally, there is the shocking news that jails across America, including here in Kentucky, recently began signing up exiting inmates for Medicaid thanks to Obamacare. It’s estimated that about one-third of people going in or out of prisons and jails will qualify for expanded Medicaid under Obamacare.
This is yet another disturbing aspect of the disastrous law that is Obamacare. Kentucky’s Medicaid program is stretched thin already. Even before Obamacare, the state auditor’s office reported Kentucky faced a shortage of 3,700 doctors needed to treat the low-income women, children, and disabled the program was originally created to help. Given this shortage, it is hard to imagine how adding thousands of released prisoners to the Medicaid rolls won’t further exacerbate the challenges Kentuckians have in finding doctors they need.
And when federal support inevitably shrinks in the future, Kentucky taxpayers will be forced to continue this expanded Medicaid coverage for those who have cycled in and out of the criminal justice system, diverting taxpayer resources away from schools, roads, and public safety services that citizens want and need.
All of these troubling aspects of Obamacare—the canceled plans, the higher premiums, and the added burden on Medicaid—are proof that the law is far from a success. In fact, Obamacare has proved to be a failure for the millions of Americans who are seeing rising costs, reduced access, and lower quality of care. It’s not too late for both parties in Washington to come together, repeal Obamacare, and replace it with common-sense reforms that will actually help the thousands of Kentuckians who contact my office about this outrageous law.
Mitch McConnell is a U.S. Senator representing Kentucky.