CHARLESTON — State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and nine other state AGs have sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius seeking legislative action to help alleviate problems implementing the Affordable Care Act.
The letter also was signed by the AGs from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
The five-page letter from the AGs highlights three problems. Those are statutory and regulatory delays, technological difficulties and the security of consumers’ private information.
“Advocates and opponents of the Affordable Care Act can agree on one thing: the rollout of the health insurance exchange for individuals has been plagued with unimaginable problems,” Morrisey said in a statement about the letter.
“At best it has been a frustrating exercise in futility for the millions of Americans who thought they would be able to sign up for lower-priced insurance or simply keep their existing doctors and insurance.
“At worst, it has shown that our deep concerns about citizens’ well-being and privacy were spot on.”
Morrisey said the group of attorneys general is “obligated to fight to protect our consumers,” for whom he said the implementation of ACA “has been disastrous.”
“We hope the Obama administration and members of Congress will put partisan politics aside and work together on legislation to fix the mounting problems with the law and its implementation,” he said in the statement. “We have many serious concerns about the implementation of the ACA so far and we hope Congress and the Administration will take immediate steps to mitigate these problems.”
In the letter, the 10 AGs point out statutory provisions that have been delayed thus far, such as a cap on consumers’ out-of-pocket expenses, the small business health insurance exchange and a mandate requiring large employers to provide health insurance. Also, it notes that the administration postponed a deadline when uninsured citizens had to have insurance or face a penalty on their taxes after people had problems registering on the goverment’s website.
“All of those delays have been implemented in contradiction to what is in the law that Congress approved,” Morrisey said in the press release. “While I agree the law is unworkable as is, the executive branch cannot just decide to ignore one part of a law passed by the legislative branch while moving forward with other parts.”
The letter also mentions technical difficulties the system has experienced since opening Oct. 1. It also highlights issues with the privacy and security of consumer information.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange agreed with Morrisey’s comments.
“Attorneys General work day in and day out to protect consumers, and so far, the implementation of Obamacare has been a disaster for people all across the country,” Strange said in a statement. “I hope the Obama administration and members of Congress will work together on legislation to fix the mounting problems with the law that the failed rollout has highlighted.”
In a related issue, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Nov. 6 also asked Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber to enact new consumer protection and privacy requirements for Obamacare navigators.
Abbott and 12 other state attorneys general expressed similar concerns and recommended that federal privacy rules governing navigators be enhanced to help protect consumers in an August letter to Sebelius. He didn’t receive a response from the federal goverment.
“Obamacare navigators have access to Texans’ most sensitive and personal information,” Abbott said in a press release. “Inexplicably, the federal government has failed to enact safeguards that are necessary to properly protect Texans’ privacy, so I am deeply concerned about the threat of identity theft. Given the Obama Administration’s apparent indifference to the seriousness of these problems, I am thankful that Texas officials are stepping up and moving toward meaningful protections for Texans.”