Bennet, Udall Won’t Disavow Promises That Coloradans Can Keep Insurance Under Obamacare

November 7, 2013
By
Bennet and Udall have been evasive about the "drop letters," reflecting the kind of unease many Democrats feel with the botched rollout of the President's health care law

Bennet and Udall have been evasive about the “drop letters” that millions of Americans have received, reflecting a growing unease with the botched rollout of Obamacare

WASHINGTON — Despite nearly a quarter million Coloradans receiving cancellation letters from health insurers, the state’s two U.S. senators have declined to retract their promises Coloradans with plans would be able to keep them under a new health care law.

On Wednesday, Sen. Michael Bennet said he did not recall a June 2009 speech on the Senate floor in which the Democrat said “(i)f you have coverage and you like it, you can keep it.” His memory notwithstanding, the text and video of the speech remain on Bennet’s website.

When a reporter asked Bennet if he would have voted for the law knowing some Americans would lose their insurance plans, he referred the question to a spokesman. The spokesman did not respond for comment.

Sen. Mark Udall has been similarly coy about the “drop letters” some health insurers have sent to Americans months before and during the rollout of the controversial law.

On Tuesday afternoon, Udall referred a question to a spokesman. His spokesman too did not return an email message for comment.

Udall and Bennet’s evasiveness contrasts with their unambiguous statements four years ago about the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

“If you have an insurance  policy you like, a doctor or medical facility that provides medical services to you,” you’ll be able to keep your doctor or your plan,” Udall told a reporter with Fox21 News in September 2009.

“If you have your doctor and you like him or her, you should be able to keep him or her, as well. We will not take that choice away from you,” Bennet added.

Despite Bennet and Udall’s promises, at least 3.5 million Americans have received notices that their insurance plans have been cancelled as a result of Obamacare, according to an Associated Press report Monday.

Many of those 3.5 million policyholders live in Colorado. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana and other providers have sent “drop letters” to Coloradans in recent months.  The Colorado Division of Insurance put the number at 249,199 cancellation letters as of November 1.

Coming up with a coherent explanation for the cancellation notices has been a struggle for the Obama administration and Senate Democrats.

At a Senate Finance Committee hearing, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius referred not to drop letters or cancellation notices but “plan turnover.” She blamed insurance companies for not coming into compliance with the law despite having three years to change their plans to fit the law’s ten requirements.

“If plans in the market changed over and over again since 2010, then insurers have been on notice since 2010 that they need come into compliance with the same exact consumer protections that are in the small group market, in the employer market, in every other part of health insurance. It just wasn’t available to individuals who were out shopping on their own,” she said.

Bennet and Udall have not referred to or acknowledged “plan turnover.” They have been evasive about the cancellation notices, and their hesitation reflects the political unease both lawmakers feel about the botched rollout of the President’s health care law.

Earlier on Tuesday, Bennet was asked if the implementation of Obamacare would hurt Senate Democrats in the elections next fall.

“Well, I think that for the next year, the quality of the candidates will be important,” he said in response to a question from a New York Times reporter.

Bennet is the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

On Wednesday morning, Bennet cut out early of a Senate Finance Committee hearing at which Sebelius testified. He traveled to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden and 14 Democratic senators who are up for re-election in 2014, including Udall.

Although the White House did not make available a transcript of the two-hour, unscheduled meeting, multiple news outlets reported that senators aired their grievances about the law to Obama and Biden.

Udall released a letter he sent Tuesday to Sebelius and the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in which he criticized the implementation of HealthCare.gov, the federal website designed to serve as the main portal through which uninsured Americans sign up for private insurance.

“The rollout of HealthCare.gov has not been smooth — to say the least — and I shared the concerns of Coloradans directly with the president,” Udall wrote.

Although Bennet and Udall not retracted their promises about the permanence of the insurance plans, they have not reiterated them either. The disjuncture between their four-year-old promises and silence leaves room for Republicans to attack their credibility.

“Well, (Democrats) should retract their statements, because quite frankly they can’t support them,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said after the Senate Finance Committee hearing Wednesday.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) sought to change the subject when asked if his Democratic colleagues should disavow their promises. “It’s (not) like this is the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Republicans … don’t want to talk about all those sick 100 million Americans who don’t have any insurance,” he said, referring mistakenly to the 40 million Americans who were not insured before the ACA.

On Wednesday, Bennet sought to assure a reporter he was not being defensive about his support for the law.  “I would be glad to talk about the Affordable Care Act,” he said wanly.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

20 Responses to Bennet, Udall Won’t Disavow Promises That Coloradans Can Keep Insurance Under Obamacare

  1. Shredder
    November 7, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Disgraceful. Udall & Bennet are the little lap dogs for the democrats. Little lady boys in empty suits with no courage or convictions.

  2. Bob Terry
    November 7, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    I posted a while back the “form” letter response from Mark Udall … It was clearly that a form letter…and hemmed and hawed that this is new it has problems..but like all programs everything would be peaches ‘n cream… Senator Udall really doesn’t care…he spouts the Democrat party line and Obama’s bile … You know when your face is full of crap and you believe you can still promote the agenda…why wipe it off.. Bennett Udall …Like De Gette and Polis … It is so good for you … and we know best …and you’re gonna like it … They really do not care period How you feel..what you think…or if you are harmed in any way shape or form … What will get their attention !!! Voting them out of office … That’s the message

    • Bob Terry
      November 7, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      This is the e-mail / letter I sent to Udall and he and the President are quoted.

      Senator Udall;

      Can you explain this as this whole Obamacare unravels and all false information is now rearing its ugly head.
      Even the AFL-CIO is back door dealing for exemptions. The House and Senate, You and your staff are all exempt
      with a PLAN WE PAY FOR..But Obamacare is good for us the unwashed.
      Let me remind you of what YOU sir and the President said:

      That is the exact opposite of what national political leaders, from President Barack Obama to
      U.S. Senator Mark Udall and then-Congresswoman Betsy Markey, told the American people during
      the Obamacare debate. They said, verbatim, that people would be able to keep their insurance plans if they want:

      “We will keep this promise to the American people,” said Obama in 2009. “If you like your health care plan,
      you can keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away.”

      “If you have an insurance policy you like, doctor or medical facility that provides medical services to you,
      you’ll be able to keep that doctor or that insurance policy,” said Udall [in 2009].

      “If you like what (insurance coverage) you have you should be able to keep it,” said Markey.

      What TCO has uncovered is that, no, you cannot keep your plan if you want. Even Republican Congressman
      Cory Gardner had his family’s insurance plan dropped. (Gardner has chosen to forgo government insurance and
      buy his own for his family).

      According to the Observer story, Gardner is far from alone. He is joined by thousands of fellow Coloradans who
      are being dropped by their insurance companies:

      “Last month, Humana sent letters to approximately 8,800 individually-insured policy holders in Colorado whose plans
      are not considered ‘grandfathered’ under the Affordable Care Act (ACA),
      ” Humana’s Western Region Spokesperson Marina Renneke told TCO in an e-mail.
      “The letters outlined two Humana plan options for 2014 and encouraged recipients to learn more about the
      health care reform law.”

      Blue Cross Blue Shield hasn’t confirmed how many drop letters they sent to Colorado policy holders.

      Comment on this please AND NO FORM LETTER REPLY

      Thank you..

  3. SPQR
    November 7, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Both of these clowns are disgraces. It still astonishes me that Coloradans elected the carpetbagger Bennett – not least after his incompetent term as DPS Superintendent showed his lack of any leadership skills whatsoever.

  4. Dave
    November 7, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Hope they are gone next election

  5. Val
    November 7, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Mr. Udall was most happy about the Supreme Court decision that the Obamacare penalty is really a tax.

    http://www.markudall.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=2459

  6. robyn Parker
    November 8, 2013 at 9:11 am

    I contacted both senators via thier website asking if they were ready to represent the people of Colorado yet as opposed to the Democratic party. I guess the answer was NO.

    • Gordon Goodman
      November 8, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      I agree with Robyn Parker.

      They voted for it (Obamacare), made public statements in support of it so they own it.

      Our Colorado representatives to Congress seem to reflect their Parties affiliations instead of looking out for Colorado voters. Their voting records reflect a total allegiance to Obama and the Democratic party.

      When they come up for reelection the people of Colorado should let them know what we think of their voting record.

  7. Sky Lark
    November 9, 2013 at 8:25 am

    If Coloradans done start paying attention the once beautiful state is going to become the same liberal cesspool that California has become.

  8. hsabin
    November 9, 2013 at 9:22 am

    These two slime balls are worthless. Udall recently sent out a letter telling women how HE fought for them. Oh yeah baby!!

  9. Larry Swenson
    November 10, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    I believe that the people should make the congressmen and women, including senators abide by hype laws they pass! Just as the constitution has stated.

  10. Penny Nikel
    November 10, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    I am a health insurance broker. We have known since this thing was signed that this would happen. We have had this conversation over and over with our clients. It’s no surprise to those who have to deal with it every day. So yes, they are cancelled. Sucks if you like your plan. My husband is losing his and we liked it. Most of the companies are offering a plan that is similar but comes into compliance with the new laws. For probably 2/3 of the people, it will mean higher rates. For them to dummy up and blame the insurance companies for this is simply not accepting the responsibility for it or it is blatant ignorance of contract law. An insurance company cannot just change the policy that you are on…it is a CONTRACT idiot. You can’t just change the contract. All of the plans have to meet the new requirements, be filed with the states Division of Insurance and rates and plans approved before it is offered as a policy/plan to the public. If the insurance companies did not do this, thier heads would be on the chopping block. The ignorance of the people who make our laws is concerning…or they are flat out lying…or both.

  11. Gary Lockhart
    November 10, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Michael Bennet is the manifestation of Jeff Spicoli.

    That clown couldn’t find his rear end with both hands if you spotted him nine fingers.

    The entire Udall clan has been sucking off the public teat for far too long.

    Both of those buffoons make DeGette look like a member of MENSA.

  12. Not Buying It
    November 11, 2013 at 4:10 am

    Here’s an e-mail exchange between me and Senator Udall that I shared with friends back when Obamacare passed.

    Sent: Fri 4/09/10 9:04 AM
    I wrote my Senator prior to the vote on the healthcare bill, told him I had voted for him in the past while he was in Congress, and told him I strongly opposed the healthcare bill. I told him that he might think he could vote for the bill and then sell me on the benefits of it and I would come around to his viewpoint before he is next up for re-election in 2014. I told him that would not be the case and that I would be sure to vote against him if he voted for this healthcare bill.

    I’ve enclosed his response and my reply. Isn’t it fun participating in the political process?

    I say vote all incumbents out in 2010 (and anybody that voted for this healthcare bill whenever they come up for re-election) and maybe we can shock the system and get a Congress that cares what the people think. Let’s make this Congress “historic” for a change in our politics — isn’t that what the President promised? Let’s help him deliver on that promise!

    Mark:

    Thanks for your response.

    Wow . . . cake for everybody, and a scoop of ice cream! And now you tell me that it will not only significantly cut the federal deficit but it won’t cost anybody anything. That’s GREAT . . . why didn’t anybody do this before?

    The current Congress will go down in history as the greatest Congress ever! I’m so happy that you took the time to explain this to me because I let the current climate of skepticism cloud my thinking and keep me from appreciating the monumental accomplishments of the current Congress.

    I’m going to share your response with a few friends so they can also break through the fog and come to appreciate this Congress as I now do.

    Subject: Reply from U.S. Senator Mark Udall
    Date: Thu, 8 Apr 2010 09:05:09 -0700

    April 8, 2010
    Dear Mr. X,

    Thank you for contacting me regarding health insurance reform. I appreciate that you took the time to express your specific views with me on this important topic.

    Last year, I traveled throughout Colorado listening to families, businesses, and health care providers to get input on how to improve our health care system. From across the state, I heard from thousands of Coloradans who, like you, took the time to share their stories and their experiences and offered their advice on the best path forward.

    I recognize there are many, often competing, philosophies and ideas on the best ways to lower costs, improve efficiency and expand access to health care. Some called for small, incremental changes to the system, while others argued for a complete overhaul of the way health care is administered in this country. Still others believe the system should remain untouched, viewing the status quo as acceptable.

    From the beginning of the debate, I called for a bill requiring health insurers to provide coverage regardless of health status or pre-existing health condition. I also urged focus on ways to improve overall health outcomes by emphasizing the importance of prevention and chronic disease management. In addition, I maintained that health reform must strengthen Medicare to ensure its solvency and long-term stability while also giving small business owners the tools needed to provide their employees with affordable coverage. Finally, I said that I would not support legislation projected to increase our nation’s federal deficit.

    With these principles in mind, I supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which became law on March 23, 2010. Soon thereafter, Congress passed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, signed into law by President Obama on March 30, 2010, which is designed to improve upon the underlying health reform bill. These two laws are not perfect, but together I believe they will serve as a foundation to provide Americans with greater security, provide small businesses the means to offer affordable coverage to their employees, and protect and strengthen Medicare for our seniors. The new laws expand coverage to nearly 32 million uninsured Americans while providing more stable care to those already covered. Moreover, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office confirmed that these two measures are fully paid for and project them to significantly cut the long-term federal deficit.

    This legislation contains several measures that I authored, including the Rural Physicians Pipeline Act, which is designed to address the shortfall of rural physicians by creating a program to help expand rural training programs at medical schools. In addition, I authored an amendment to ensure that rural communities in Colorado – and across the nation – get the same access as their urban counterparts to federal Community Transformation Grants designed to help prevent and reduce chronic disease. These important programs will go a long way toward ensuring that Colorado’s rural counties have the resources they need to improve and increase access to affordable health care.

    Colorado will soon benefit in a number of ways. Beginning in 2010, insurance companies may not deny coverage to children based on a pre-existing condition. This means that the parents of Colorado’s 1.2 million children will no longer have to worry about their child being denied health coverage because they got sick early on in life. Also, beginning this year, almost 500,000 young adults in Colorado who would otherwise be forced off their parents’ health insurance policies can maintain that coverage through their 26th birthday. For Colorado’s economy and struggling workforce, health reform is designed to help slow down the costs associated with providing health care benefits, which is projected to free up spending that will allow Colorado employers to hire as many as 6,500 new workers each year. In addition, over 68,000 small businesses in Colorado will be eligible for a tax credit to help them offer health coverage for their employees. These laws will also reduce the costs of prescription drugs for over 100,000 Colorado seniors. This year, those seniors who find themselves reaching the Medicare Part D coverage gap, or “donut hole”, will receive $250 to help offset some of the out-of-pocket costs associated with their coverage. Health reform will begin to fill in the coverage gap in 2011, phasing it out completely by 2020.

    As controversial as it has been, I believe that health insurance reform is also a key building block for getting our economy back on track. If we failed to act, businesses would continue to be choked by health care costs, putting them at a competitive disadvantage and preventing them from contributing to our economic recovery. I fully expect that improvements to these two laws will be necessary as each provision is implemented, but I am confident that we have a better foundation on which to build a more cost-effective and accessible health insurance system.

    To see my involvement in the health care debate, including speeches and offered amendments, please visit my website at http://markudall.senate.gov/healthreform.

    I will continue to listen closely to what you and other Coloradans have to say about matters before Congress, the concerns of our communities, and the issues facing Colorado and the nation. My job is not about merely supporting or opposing legislation; it is also about bridging the divide that has paralyzed our nation’s politics. For more information about my positions and to learn how my office can assist you, please visit my website at http://www.markudall.senate.gov.

    Warm regards,

    Mark Udall
    U.S. Senator, Colorado

    MEU/jpw

    SENATOR UDALL: YOU DO NOT EVEN HAVE TO “LISTEN CLOSELY” TO HEAR WHAT COLORADO IS SAYING — DELAY THIS PATHETIC LAW & FIX IT — OTHERWISE WE’LL ELECT SOMEONE WHO WILL.

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