Friday, November 15, 2013

UPDATE, READ: Statements from Reps. Barber ("Aye") and Kirkpatrick ("Nay") On Today's Upton/Obamacare Votes

Arizona's Politics was first to report on the individual votes this morning by Arizona's Congressional delegation - particularly the three Democrats representing hotly-contested swing districts - on the GOP/Upton bill to change Obamacare to permit insurance companies to not only renew canceled policies but to sell the non-conforming policies to new customers.  Two of those three have now sent out statements explaining their votes.

The full statements from Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2), among 39 Democrats to vote for the bill, and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1) - who voted against it - are below the jump.

Barber emphasized the customers who have received cancellation notices, while not addressing the President's and other Democrats' concern that the Upton bill permits people who did not receive a cancellation to sign up for those policies which likely do not qualify under the terms of the 2010 law.

“Today I voted to give people the option to keep their current plan until these and other issues are resolved. That’s only fair.”

Kirkpatrick emphasized her frustration with the "disaster" of "the stunning ineptitude of the ACA marketplace rollout", while noting that today's bill was part of the "partisan noisemaking" that undermines the reforms instituted by the law.

(full statements are below the jump)

Kirkpatrick's Statement:
“The stunning ineptitude of the ACA marketplace rollout is more than a public relations disaster. It is a disaster for the working families in my Arizona district who badly need quality, affordable health care.

“I have often said that the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, and I am willing to work across the aisle to improve it. This is why I voted in July for a one-year extension for small businesses and individuals to comply with ACA requirements. 

“But today, I voted against H.R. 3350, the Upton bill, because it would neither fix nor improve the ACA. It would raise premiums and undermine market reform – by discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, restoring annual caps on care, and forcing women to pay more than men for the same coverage. 

“Lost in all the partisan noisemaking are the people who have been waiting years for quality, affordable health care. Thousands of them are in my Arizona district. Millions of others are across the country. They elected us to solve problems, so let’s stop playing games and start finding solutions.”
Barber's Statement:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ron Barber today joined a strong bipartisan majority of the House in voting to allow consumers to continue buying health insurance policies that were in effect when the year began, saying they deserve the flexibility they need to choose plans that are right for them and their families.

“I am frustrated and angered by the continuing problems with the health care website and I know Southern Arizonans are frustrated and angry, too,” Barber said today. “Today I voted to give people the option to keep their current plan until these and other issues are resolved. That’s only fair.”

With Barber and a bipartisan majority, the House today voted 261-to-157 to approve the Keep Your Health Plan Act. The bill, which now goes to the Senate, would allow insurers to continue selling individual policies that were in effect on Jan. 1, 2013. The measure would remain in effect through 2014.

Barber today also voted to require insurance companies to notify consumers about their health insurance options to ensure they have the information they need to choose the best plans for them and their families.

Barber supported requiring state insurance commissioners to investigate and penalize insurance companies for inadequate cancellation notices; take corrective action against excessive, unjustified premium increases; and take appropriate steps to ensure that extending non-compliant 2013 policies does not adversely affect marketplace premiums.

Barber has called for immediate action to right the many failures of the rollout of the health care website which has left many Americans unable to buy insurance coverage that they are required to purchase. Barber has called for transparency and accountability throughout the rollout and to make sure the people he serves in Arizona get a fair shake.

Barber’s support for today’s bill builds on earlier concerns he has raised. In a hearing this week, Barber called the website’s debut “totally unacceptable” and said he also is concerned about the security of personal information submitted by people signing up for health insurance. Video of Barber making those points can be seen by clicking on the image below.

And just two weeks ago, Barber became an original cosponsor of the Health Care Access Fairness and Penalty Delay Act, which would delay penalties for people who don’t obtain health insurance until four months after the website is completely functional.

And a week before that, Barber asked Attorney General Eric Holder to launch an immediate in-depth review of the companies responsible for the website.

Barber and four of his colleagues in the House asked Holder to “pursue any and all remedies up to and including a refund of any and all monies paid to the contractors for a website that doesn’t work. If the government has purchased faulty or defective services, the taxpayers deserve and should demand their money back.”

Barber was not in Congress in March 2010 and did not vote for the Affordable Care Act. Since he took office in June 2012, he has remained opposed to full repeal of the act to keep the many benefits of the law, like closing the doughnut hole for seniors, allowing students to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26, prevent people with pre-existing conditions from being denied healthcare and requiring insurance companies to treat women equally in their plans and premiums.

Barber has supported common-sense actions to fix parts of the law that don’t work for Southern Arizona small businesses, middle-class families and seniors.

Even before the website problems, Barber supported a one-year delay to the employer and individual penalties in the Affordable Care Act. The delay in the imposition of penalties and fines would give employers with more than 50 employees and individuals who do not have insurance an additional year to meet the requirements of the law.

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