November 05, 2013

Senator Warren Highlights Massachusetts Health Care at HELP Committee Hearing on Affordable Care Act Implementation

Video is available here


Washington, DC – At a Senate Health Education Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren compared Massachusetts' health reform launch to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace, including similar technical problems, enrollment trends and cost benefits.

Senator Warren explained that in 2007, Massachusetts' website experienced technical problems that required a "tech surge" to fix. She questioned Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner about the website and noted that in Massachusetts, "we stayed focused on what mattered - our conviction that no one deserved to be bankrupt or shut out of the system when they got sick."

The Senator called on Administrator Tavenner to describe the administration's projections about the enrollment trends, and the impacts that the technological problems with the website might have on those trends. "Our enrollment period for subsidized insurance lasted almost a full year, and yet it was only in the last month that 20% of the total pool got themselves enrolled. People signing up for unsubsidized insurance had a shorter period of time, and yet over a quarter of them waited until the last month to get enrolled," said Senator Warren, explaining that regardless of the length of an enrollment period, consumers tend to wait to sign up until the end.

Senator Warren also discussed the struggles of the health care industry before the ACA, "costs exploded, insurance companies discriminated against people with preexisting conditions, too many consumers and patients - including those with insurance - were threatened with financial ruin if they got sick." The senator touted the elimination of lifetime coverage limits and of insurance companies' ability to discriminate against consumers with pre-existing conditions and encouraged fixing these systems so that families across the country have the health care they need, like families in Massachusetts.