Click HERE to watch the video chat
House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, this afternoon hosted a video conference call via Google Hangout with individuals from Southwest Michigan who will lose their current health plan because of the Affordable Care Act. Upton was joined by U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Illinois, who is a member of Upton’s committee.
Upton has heard from countless people from across Southwest Michigan who like their current health plan, but are now losing it because of the health care law. Today’s Google Hangout provided an innovative platform for some of those folks to publicly share their stories.
“The stories shared by Mary and Tim echo those I have heard again and again from families throughout Southwest Michigan. It is important that their voices are heard,” said Upton. “These folks are among the nearly quarter of a million people in Michigan who took the President at his word, but are now finding the dreaded cancellation notices in their mailboxes.
“Health care should be about providing relief and certainty at a time when people need it most. The President’s health care law has done anything but that.”
One of the participants was Mary Swanson, a realtor from Kalamazoo. She and her husband are both self-employed and purchase their own health insurance.
“We received our cancellation notice the first week of October, much to our shock after having heard that we were going to be able to keep our plans that we were very happy with,” said Swanson.
Their current plan costs $920 per month and has a maximum combined deductible of $4,000. Swanson says that because of the Affordable Care Act, their monthly premium will jump to $1,300 to $1,500, and their deductible will increase to $6,000 a piece. Now they have to figure out how they will pay for the thousands of dollars of additional health costs each year.
Another participant was Tim Brown, a small business owner from Portage. Like Swanson, Brown and his spouse have recently received notice that their current plan is being cancelled, despite the President’s repeated promises to the contrary. Also like Swanson, the alternative plans they are now considering also have significantly higher costs and cover services he does not want.
“So now the government is saying that you have to buy a product, and you have to buy a product that you otherwise would not have purchased,” said Brown. “Now you want to know why there’s a little bit of outrage?”
Brown also expressed his frustration with the further confusion that has been caused by the President’s announcement of another administrative “fix” to the law a week ago.
“Here I have a deadline of December 31st and Blue Cross has just said ‘we cannot comment on any impact the President’s comments may have made.’ Are we going in limbo now?”
During the call, Upton highlighted his Keep Your Health Plan Act (H.R. 3350), which passed the House with bipartisan support last Friday. Upton’s bill would allow health care plans currently available on the individual market to continue to be offered next year – expanding choices and beginning to provide peace of mind to the millions of Americans who were promised by the President that if they liked their health plan, they could keep it.
Folks from Southwest Michigan can become a “Citizen Cosponsor” of Upton’s Keep Your Health Plan Act by visiting: https://www.cosponsor.gov/#details/hr3350-113