The House of Representatives will vote Friday on legislation to force the Obama administration to reveal Obamacare enrollment data and other key figures so lawmakers and the public can see whether the goals are being met and the right people are signing up.
The Exchange Information Disclosure Act, H.R. 3362, is sponsored by Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Terry told WND he’s pushing the bill because the Obama administration left him no choice.
“(Health and Human Services Secretary) Kathleen Sebelius motivated me. She was in front of our committee, and I asked her for information and she said, ‘No,’ just as blunt as that,” said Terry, who noted that the administration is voluntarily releasing the number of visitors to Healthcare.gov but little else.
“That’s fairly meaningless data. This is based on what state insurance commissioners as data. This is what they would require. If it weren’t Obamacare and a federal law, this is what they require of policies sold within their states,” Terry said. “They want to know who has signed up for what policies. OK, we have nine million people that have gained access through the exchange. Well, how many of them actually got a policy? We don’t know that. What policies did they get?”
Demographic information is also important for lawmakers to know, since the system is predicated on millions of young, healthy people signing up to help bear the costs for older, less healthy people.
“This scheme of Obamacare collapses if young people aren’t signing up, so we need to know if young people are signing up,” he said. “What’s the demographic? And how many of the people signing up are actually going into Medicaid versus a policy? This is just simple, necessary information.”
Listen to Terry’s interview with WND below:
Terry said there is nothing in the new health law requiring the administration to share relevant data, and he said nothing Congress is asking for would endanger anyone's privacy.
"This isn't personally identifiable information. It isn't associated to a name. It's just 'a person signed up for this policy and they are this age,'" said Terry, who also elaborated on how frequent updates in enrollment info would need to come.
"They could actually do it in real time if they wanted to. All I'm requiring is that at least once a week, at the end of the week, they have to make the information accessible. So we're not even saying you have to send this to the Nebraska Insurance Commission. We just are saying you have to make this information available to them," Terry said.
In addition to leaving Congress in the dark, Terry said the lack of information about enrollments is driving state insurance commissioners "crazy." He also said GOP members and state officials are increasingly worried about accuracy of information about enrollees because of the gaping holes in the navigator program. Navigators are the people hired to promote Obamacare and personally guide Americans through the sign-up process.
"They're unlicensed, and most of them have no experience in health care, let alone being able to go through the nuances policy. Yet, those are the ones that are empowered under this bill to, in essence, sell you a policy. Health and Human Services has published the names of those entities that have gotten grants, but they've refused to release the names of the individuals that out in the communities knocking on doors and trying to sign people up. In the state of Nebraska, as in any other state, you aren't allowed to be an unlicensed broker of insurance like these folks are," he said.
As with many efforts to amend or repeal Obamacare, congressional Democrats want nothing to do with Terry's bill.
"You would think that an administration that is all about transparency would be in favor of this bill, but the Democrats are lined up against this because they don't want the people to know the data, the real story," he explained.
"They've circled the wagons around Obamacare and they do not want there to be any signs of weakness, whether it's weaknesses of Obamacare or their enthusiastic defense of Obamacare. And they're trying to get a new narrative out there that the Republicans are just going to spend 100 percent of their time and they're just obsessed with Obamacare. Yeah, we do want to repeal it. We do think it's going to be bad for the patients, bad for the people and bad for our country. But this is one of those things that's just simply transparency."
The House is expected to approve the bill, but even Terry is pessimistic that it will even see the light of day in the U.S. Senate.
"I'm going to be blunt. I have no confidence that Harry Reid is going to allow a bill like this on the Senate floor," he said, while again blasting his Democratic colleagues for preaching transparency but rejecting when they have a chance to vote for it.