DENVER — Colorado Congressman Cory Gardner plans to ask Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for a waiver exempting his constituents from Obamacare’s individual mandate on Wednesday when she appears before the House committee on which he sits.
Sebelius has been under fire over problems with the Affordable Care Act since the federal government’s website and dozens of state exchanges launched on Oct. 1.
Gardner talked FOX31 Denver on Monday about his plans to question Sebelius Wednesday when she answers questions from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
“It’s time for Kathleen Sebeilus to be transparent with the American people about her leadership and about the failings of Obamacare,” Gardner said. “People are months away from being fined for not buying a product that they literally cannot buy.”
Late Monday afternoon, after Gardner spoke with FOX31 Denver, the White House announced that it would extend the open-enrollment period six weeks until March 31, allowing people who’ve encountered problems browsing and buying plans online more time before being subject to fines for not having health insurance.
“It’s not just the glitches with the websites,” Gardner said. “The glitch is with the law, which is forcing people to buy health insurance that’s more expensive.”
Gardner, R-Yuma, has argued for months that President Obama’s promise “that if you liked your health care plan, you can keep it” was a lie, even citing his own family policy, which was cancelled and replaced by Rocky Mountain Health Plans in accordance with Obamacare’s guidelines.
“If you work for Exxon-Mobil, you’re exempted from Obamacare,” Gardner said, noting that the White House has already delayed the mandate for large employers to cover their employees until 2015.
“They ought to delay the mandate for poor individuals as well.”
Gardner says he’s seeking an exemption for people living in Colorado’s Fourth Congressional District, which includes the northern Front Range and all of the state’s eastern plains; Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, announced last week that he’d be seeking a waiver for constituents living in mountain ski towns where premiums are too high for people to afford.
Gardner also plans to ask Sebelius about an edgy marketing campaign taking place in Colorado urging young people to sign up for health insurance.
One of the marketing ploys targets “bros” and shows a trio of college-aged young men doing a keg stand under the text: “Got Insurance?”
“Keg stands are crazy,” says that ad, urging young people to buy ‘Brosurance’. “Not having health insurance is crazier.”
Gardner doesn’t think the campaign is very funny.
“I’m going to hold up a poster of the ‘Brosurance’ ad with the young people doing the keg stand and ask if she approves of these sorts of ads,” Gardner said.