Dem Senator: 'We're Going to Have to See on Oct. 1' How the Health Exchanges Work

By Susan Jones | September 30, 2013 | 6:54 AM EDT

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) (AP File Photo)

( - Three years ago, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) famously said that Congress would have to pass the Affordable Care Act to find out what's in it, and those uncertainties linger: Over the weekend, a Democratic senator said "we're going to have to see on October 1st" how the new Obamacare exchanges work.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) was asked by Fox News's Chris Wallace about President Obama's promise that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor: "No, you can't," Wallace said.

"In the exchanges?" Kaine asked. "In the exchanges, the news that came out about the exchanges last week -- and we're going to have to see on October 1st -- is that they're -- people are going to have vastly more choices of insurance products and the ability to have them subsidized. If the exchanges go into effect, this is -- this --"

Wallace interrupted, saying if he likes the doctor he's been seing for ten years, it may happen that the plans available on the new health exchanges won't cover the cost of seeing "Dr. Smith" anymore.

"I actually doubt that that's the case," Kaine responded. "The news about the exchanges is that the number of options is so great, you're going to have all kinds of choices, Dr. Smith or others that you might want to see, based upon the reports last week."

Wallace also asked Kaine about insurance premiums and deductibles going way up for some people under Obamacare: "Senator, I want to show you a letter that Regence Blue Cross/Blue Shield sent a 62-year-old couple in Chicago this last week. They run a small business...It says, quote, under the Affordable Care Act, they must get a new policy that doubles their deductible to $5,000 each, raises the cost of an office visit to a specialist from $35 a visit to $100 a visit and increases their premium again. That's not what the president promised."

"Chris, I don't believe everything an insurance company says," Kaine responded. "I'm sure the insurance company says, well, this is because of the Affordable Care Act. These are the same guys who were kicking people off policies and turning people away from policies because they had pre-existing conditions."

Kaine said premiums and deductibles may be going up, "but it may have nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act." He said in Virginia, the exchanges will "be very favorable to people," and he also mentioned the availability of subsidies: "So if you are beneath a certain income level, whatever that premium is, it's going to be subsidized and (the cost) dropped, so it's very affordable."

Wallace also pointed to reports that many companies are cutting jobs or cutting workers' hours to avoid Obamacare requirements, and he noted that Union leaders are saying Obamacare will hurt them.

"We want to -- we want to fix it; we want to reform it," Kaine said. But, he added, "We shouldn't be talking about government shutdown; let's talk reform. We want to do reforms of the Affordable Care Act, the farm bill, immigration reform, but it's wrong to tie it up to a government shutdown threat."

Kaine said any changes to Obamacare should be made through the regular budget process -- a process that has broken down to the point where Congress relies on short-term, stop-gap funding measures.