Dem Senator on High Cost of Obamacare: It Is a ‘Legitimate Criticism’

Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.) on Wednesday acknowledged that people who are critical of the high costs of Obamacare have a "legitimate criticism."

Bennet, a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, told fellow lawmakers and insurance commissioners at a committee hearing that the "most solid" critique of Obamacare is the increasing costs.

"To me, the most solid critique of the Affordable Care Act, as opposed to our health care system generally, is when people say to me, ‘Michael, you're forcing me to buy something, insurance, that costs too much because there's no competition in my area,'" Bennet said.

Bennet went on to clarify that the increasing costs of Obamacare tend to occur in the rural parts of his state where there are not cheaper options for his constituents.

"This is very often in rural parts of the state, in mountainous parts of the state," Bennet said. "‘The deductible is so high that it is of no use to my family,' and I think that is a legitimate criticism of the Affordable Care Act. I was somebody who supported the Affordable Care Act."

Two insurance commissioners from Oklahoma and Tennessee were in attendance at the hearing, where they talked about Obamacare's individual market and how it is "near collapse as premiums continue to rise and health insurers flee the marketplace," the Washington Free Beacon reported.

John Doak, the insurance commissioner in Oklahoma, said the effect of Obamacare on his state's individual market has been severe. Doak said competition has declined dramatically as there were five insurers operating in 2014, and now there is only one. There were 30,000 individuals who left the non-group market because they could not afford it, as premiums have increased 130 percent in the last four years. There was one insurer in Oklahoma that incurred losses of more than $300 million.


McPeak said last year that the Obamacare individual market was "very near collapse." While she said the market hasn't collapsed yet, it isn't any more stable than it was at that time. McPeak says that in 2010 there were about a dozen health insurers offering coverage, and now they are down to one insurer.

"I don't think that many people believe that having a single choice in 78 of 95 counties represents ideal market competition," McPeak said. "To summarize Tennessee's experience over the last four years, our consumers have seen premium prices skyrocket while their plan choices have diminished."