By Clark Brooks, Greenville News
Congressman James Clyburn said Sunday that health insurance companies have a long history of canceling policies and are using the Affordable Care Act to drop more people.
"I've been hearing from my constituents for the entire 21 years I've been in Congress about cancellation letters that they have been getting from insurance companies. As soon as a child is born with diabetes, cannot get on health care policy. Get sick, go for your second treatment, you get a cancellation letter," Clyburn said on CNN's "State of the Union."
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is designed to eliminate such problems for consumers, said Clyburn, of South Carolina, the assistant Democratic leader in the House.
"The fact of the matter is, we're trying to stop these cancellation letters, and now a few insurance companies have decided to use the Affordable Care Act to send out a new set of cancellation letters," Clyburn said.
Clyburn also said that President Barack Obama will recoup whatever credibility he has lost because of a website that has failed to serve countless individuals trying to sign up for the new health insurance exchanges, and a broken promise that everyone who so desired could keep the policies they have.
Obama held a press conference Thursday in which he repeated that the website's failures are his fault, and are being fixed. He also laid out a proposal in which people whose policies have been canceled could keep them for a year while they and the insurance companies adjust to the new law.
In addition, insurance companies would be required to tell people which protections are not in the re-issued plans, and that consumers have options with better coverage and tax credits that might save them money.
This time the president made it clear that the fix will not solve everyone's problems and that doing more will require working with Congress to make necessary adjustments to the law, something he has said all along would be necessary. "This is an example of what I was talking about," Obama said. "We can always make this law work better."
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, on Sunday called Obama's plan "basically a false fix. It's a political band aid, but it's not a permanent cure for the people that are being hurt by his policies so it's time to start over with trying to get people the health care that they wanted from the beginning which was affordable care from their doctor that they choose."
"Republican solutions are there," said Barrasso, who appeared on CNN with Clyburn "We need to level the playing field so that people who buy insurance individually at the same tax rates as those who buy it than get it through work. We need to be able to let people shop across state lines for better deals with insurance that works for them and their family, not something the government says they have to have."
Clyburn has said all along that many people already are benefiting from Obamacare, and once the law is fully in effect, it will be popular with consumers. He said the president has taken the blame for website problems and insurance policy cancellations, and will "absolutely" regain any trust he has lost.
"The fact of the matter is, this is a roll out problem," he said. "This is not a values problem."