Johnson: Obamacare is Consumer Fraud

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and other senators on his committee heard testimony Thursday from representatives of state health insurance commissioners. The testimony led Johnson to label Obamacare a kind of consumer fraud.

One of the witnesses, Wisconsin Deputy Commissioner of Insurance J.P. Wieske, confirmed that the private information of 64,000 Wisconsinites will be transferred between insurers without their knowledge.

“We’ve got some agencies in the federal government, one set up under Dodd-Frank, called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” said Johnson.  “We also have the FTC [to] take a look at consumer fraud – try and protect consumers. I just wonder what kind of enforcement action they would take against an insurance company that sold a product, an insurance product that, say, once you buy this thing, you are going to be able to renew this forever. Because if you like this plan you can keep it. And then in the fine print, well, that’s not true.

“In addition, [what if they] said this insurance plan allows you to keep your doctor, period. You are going to be able to keep your doctor, but in the fine print said, well, not if that doctor isn’t part of the network that we’re going to cover. And, three, that, if you buy this health care plan whatever you were paying last year, your premium is going to go down by $2,500 dollars — instead, your premiums went up $1,700 dollars or $5,000 dollars. I just wonder what these federal regulatory agencies would do to an insurance company that engaged in that.

“Let me be very clear what this administration did. Massive consumer fraud, that’s what it was. Obamacare is a massive consumer fraud.”

VIDEO: Watch Chairman Johnson’s opening statement here.

Wieske explained another consequence. “We have 64,000 people in the state [of Wisconsin] who will be losing their coverage because, not just because of market withdrawals, because of service area changes,” he said. “Those 64,000 people will be auto re-enrolled. … Their private information will be sent to another private medical insurer, from one to the other, without their permission, by the federal government. … It’s going to be a hugely fraudulent, potentially fraudulent and problematic area for our Wisconsin consumers, 64,000 of them potentially who could see these numbers change.”

“We felt we did an excellent job protecting consumers prior to the ACA,” he said. “We’ve continued to try to protect from the damage from the ACA.”

“Wisconsin believes that the damage from Obamacare, hopefully, isn’t permanent, and we’re hoping for a solution that moves these problems back to the states to fix them.” 

VIDEO: Watch Deputy Commissioner Wieske’s remarks here.

  • The full hearing can be found here.
  • Johnson’s opening statement can be found here.
  • Witness testimony can be found here.

Johnson’s Recent Obamacare legislation:

  • Johnson cosponsored the State Flexibility to Provide Affordable Health Options Act, legislation that would give states the ability to help their residents who are faced with significant premium increases and limited options on Obamacare exchanges. It would:
    • Give states with a failing Obamacare exchange the authority to allow residents to use their Obamacare subsidies to purchase any health plan of their choice, even those off the exchange, for the 2017 plan year.
    • If a state chooses to use this authority to allow residents to use subsidies outside of the exchange, the legislation will waive the Obamacare requirement that you must buy a specific health care plan or pay a fine of as much as $2,000 for a family of four next year.
  • Johnson cosponsored the Protection from Obamacare Monopolies Act, legislation that would protect Americans who live in a county with less than two insurers offering Obamacare exchange plans from the individual mandate penalty.