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Hoeven: Obama’s plan for ACA falls short

President Barack Obama on Thursday announced that he believes Americans should be allowed to renew individual health care plans now marked for termination, but North Dakota’s senior senator doesn’t believe a delay will be enough.

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Speaking during a phone interview Thursday evening, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said he doesn’t think Obama’s new plan to allow health insurance companies to bypass Affordable Care Act standards for one year will go very far in solving the broader issues the much-maligned ACA has been plagued with since the law went into effect.

“I don’t believe this will work because it’s only temporary,” Hoeven said. “Even if insurance companies are able to reinstate policies, which I think remains to be seen, it’s only for a year. The problem of people losing their policies is still there and we’re up to more than 5 million nationwide.”

Addressing onlookers and cameras at a White House press conference, Obama put the blame on himself for the hiccups and pitfalls in the ACA since it was rolled out Oct. 1. Government officials announced this week that less than 27,000 ACA enrollments were completed in 36 states in the first month of operations for the now-notorious website health, according to The Associated Press.

While facing the cameras, Obama said the 106,000 Americans (when the 14 remaining state-run website numbers are factored in) that signed up for plans in October was far less than his administration had hoped for. Only 42 residents signed up for health insurance plans during the law’s first month in North Dakota, according to the AP.

“We just don’t think this is going to work,” Hoeven said. “People should be able to pick their own providers, but now you have government telling them what policies they have to have. I felt that (Obama) would have to do something, but I don’t think this temporary plan will work. I’m not surprised that the president is trying to figure out how to fix things, but I believe in empowering people and not in government-run health care. We need to get rid of Obamacare.”

During a speech on the House floor about the ACA Thursday, Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., referenced Rhame rancher Wayne Buchholz, who contacted Cramer’s office after he was notified that his insurance would be dropping him and his family following the implementation of Obamacare.

“They’ve never been active in politics,” said Cramer of the Buchholz family. “But a recent letter from their insurance company has changed all of that. Their letter informed them they would be losing their healthcare coverage due to the excessive regulations of Obamacare.”

When reached Thursday night, Buchholz said Obama’s fresh statements did nothing to make him feel better about the ACA.

“In the end, I hope the whole Obamacare mess goes away,” Buchholz said. “I thought Obamacare was the law of the land, but now (Obama) just decided to change it. I’m just a rancher, all I do is get up in the morning and go to work. I just want them to leave us alone. It’s the individual and small businesses that made this country what it is without the government.”

With enough public support, Hoeven said he believes there is still a chance that Obamacare will eventually be repealed. About 35,000 North Dakotans have received policy cancellation notices as a result of the new healthcare law, according to the AP and other reports.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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