A picture of Representative Louie Gohmert
Louie G.
Republican TX 1

About Rep. Louie
  • A Lesson in How Far This Country Has Moved

    by Representative Louie Gohmert

    Posted on 2013-12-11

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    GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, I was grateful to hear from my dear friend--and I do mean dear friend. I think greatly of Ms. Kaptur. I was glad to hear somebody has gotten a good report on the so-called Affordable Care Act.

    We are continuing to hear sad story after sad story of people continuing to be laid off, people continuing to be cut from full-time to part-time and people being forced onto food stamps because they just can't make it with the loss of income going from full-time to part- time, the loss of their insurance.

    And as people have now realized across the country, though we were told there were 30 million without insurance, it looks like by next fall, November of next year, there will probably be many more than that that lost their insurance even though they liked it and wanted to keep it. Because, as we know, if you like your insurance, there is a good chance you won't be able to keep it.

    There is a story from December 11, ``Four in Ten Would Rather Pay Fine Than Buy Insurance.'' I am sure there are people like me. You take a look at how much the insurance is going to cost, how much it has skyrocketed several times more than what I have been paying if I were going to keep insurance with the deductible now skyrocketing and dramatically increasing under the potential policies, higher than what I have now, and when I look at the costs several times higher than what I have now, and since I am not accepting the subsidy and I am not paying into the attending physician for that care, I will be going without insurance.

    It has been amazing to me how many in the liberal media--and I say ``media'' loosely, because they are really in the business of trying to protect this administration and twist stories any way they can to make anyone who objects to something this administration has done look bad, so I will loosely [[Page H7671]] refer to them as ``media''--how they have been aghast that anyone would even consider going without insurance. And it really is a lesson in how far this country has moved, in so many ways.

    {time} 1645 I know, in the early sixties, there was no such thing as Aid to Dependent Children, that program born out of the best of intentions because deadbeat dads were not a small minority of Americans. Different races, different backgrounds--some even well-off--were just not assisting financially the children they had fathered, and so the government wanted to help.

    So, in the mid-sixties, here came the Great Society. We want to help these people--these poor moms--who had to deal with deadbeat dads who wouldn't help. They said, We will help. We will give them a check for every child they can have out of wedlock. As people who study governments and government assistance, it is well documented: when you pay for an activity, you get more of that activity. We went from 6 to 7 percent of children in America being born without a father in the home to now over 40 percent, and it still seems to be heading upwards toward 50 percent. The United States Government in the 1960s, not by what it said but by where it put its money, decided we would be a lot better off with more fatherless homes. Nobody was saying that, and I don't believe anybody intended that result, but it is what they got. In the act of paying people for an activity, you get more of that activity. So we had more children growing up in fatherless homes.

    Also, back in those days, health care was so much cheaper. It wasn't at the extraordinary level that it is now. It wasn't nearly as expensive. Even though I was a small child, I didn't know people who had health insurance because, for so long, nobody had health insurance. If you had a problem, you went to the doctor, and they assessed you a charge after your visit, after they saw what the doctor did. He would write something down on your chart. We went to a few different doctors there in my small hometown of Mount Pleasant--a great town. I still love it. There are still great doctors there--but back in those days, people in my hometown in east Texas knew what doctors were charging what for what. I mean, you could actually compare apples and apples when it came to health care. If you found out some doctor said he was going up on his prices and another doctor had not gone up on his prices, then you went to the doctor who was cheaper unless you felt like he wasn't as good, but we had a number of really excellent doctors, and they cared about their patients.

    Then, eventually, you heard of somebody having health insurance, and it was true insurance. A small premium was paid either monthly, quarterly, semiannually or annually, but it was a small premium to insure against a catastrophe--a dramatic illness, a car wreck-- something that you could not foresee. You paid a small premium to insure against this unforeseen event just in case it happened down the road because, during those days, Americans were very independent. Americans did not want to go on welfare. Most Americans did not want to receive government handouts--they felt like it was a matter of pride-- and they certainly did not want an insurance company telling them what doctor they could go to, what hospitals they could go to or which hospitals they couldn't go to, which doctors they couldn't go to, which medicines they could not get if the doctor prescribed them. They didn't want an insurance company telling them, if they needed to go to this doctor because he was an expert on this type of treatment, that you couldn't go there because it wasn't in your plan. What plan? I am the only one who is planning for my life. No insurance company is going to tell me where I can or can't go. I mean, that was the type of independent thought that there was in America.

    There were a lot of problems in those days, and I thank God for Martin Luther King, Jr., because, through his actions and his life and his efforts, through peaceful protest--some around him got upset and didn't always abide by peace, but the man proclaimed everything needed to be done in peace because he was an ordained Christian minister, and he knew those were the teachings of Jesus. Because he did what he did, some people say that what he did for America was he allowed African Americans to be treated as equals. I would submit to you, since I was very young, what he did was allow me to grow up and mature in an America in which as a young, white Christian I could treat brothers and sisters like they were brothers and sisters. It didn't have to matter what color anybody's skin was. They could be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. That was a great thing for America.

    As we progressed toward making America a greater place with more liberties, more equality, more freedom, at the same time--really unrelated--there was this effort of let's start giving money from the government to individuals or to individual programs that, though unintended, would make them more dependent upon the government for their lives and their livelihoods. People quit thinking as independently. Oh, well. The government is giving me money, so maybe they would do good to tell me what I can or can't do with a few things. Then, eventually, more and more employers had employees saying, Hey, I know this other company. Their employer is buying health insurance for their employees. That would be helpful because then I wouldn't have to ever worry about having a terrible accident or some cancer or some terrible disease that would bankrupt my family. So more employers started adding health insurance to their benefits. Unfortunately, it created a system in which the employer owned the insurance policy instead of the employee. The employer was paying for it, so the employer owned it.

    One of the reforms that many of us were proposing, instead of the catastrophe known as the so-called Affordable Care Act, was that we wanted employees to own their insurance policies. Fine and dandy if an employer wanted to pay for insurance, but the employees should own them so that, if the employees go somewhere else, they are still their policies. They are portable, and they go with them. They still pay the same rates, and they aren't jacked up through a COBRA plan or something like that. Somehow, along the way, we grew more and more dependent on insurance companies to manage our own health care, and at the same time, as things like Medicare were created to help those seniors who needed help, more and more dependence grew upon the government, itself. The problem with an insurance company or with a government managing someone's health care is that they get to say what you get and what you don't get in the way of treatment.

    So it has been quite an evolution to the point at which we are now where your religious beliefs, under the United States Constitution, have been so weakened and so nullified that now the United States Government can pass a law like the so-called Affordable Care Act--it is hard for me to just call it the ``Affordable Care Act'' because it is so disastrously expensive and unaffordable for so many people, including for me now.

    The government could say, You may believe with all of your heart because of your religious conviction that abortion is the murder of a life and being, but we, the government, now control your health care, and you don't have that religious choice anymore. Oh, it may be a matter of conscience. It may be that, without regard for religion, you believe that killing a life and being that could live on its own outside the womb would be murder, but we, the government, now say you have to help pay for that type of murder. Even 20 years ago, nobody would have believed that we would get to the point where the government could order an American to pay for the killing of another, albeit an unborn child.

    I guess it really comes home to me because of our first child being born 8 to 10 weeks prematurely and holding her in two hands. I could have held her in one hand, and I kind of did from time to time, but usually, in those early days, I used two just because she was so fragile, and I just did not want to risk someone I loved so much being harmed. The doctor there at the hospital in Shreveport, where our child was taken--she was very fragile--said, Look, talk to your child. She knows your voice. Her eyes don't work very well, but she knows your voice because [[Page H7672]] she could hear your voice when she was in the womb. It is very comforting, and it really gives her a feeling of security to hear your voice. If you just caress her little arm or her little forehead while you talk to her, it is such a comfort. She knows you. She can't see you, and she doesn't know what you look like, but this child has known you from long before she was born, so talk to her and touch her.

    I put my finger down by her hand. So many people have had this happen, but when it happens to you, it is so special. This tiny, little hand would wrap around the end of my finger and just hang on and not let go. She wanted to live. She knew me, as the doctor said, before she was ever born. The doctor pointed out later as he came by--as we noticed on the monitors--her breathing was still extremely shallow as her lungs were not quite developed, and her heart rate was still escalated, but they stabilized as long as she was holding on. He said, She draws security. She draws life. She draws your love. So, in my heart, in my mind, in my soul, I know that child knew me before she was born, and I was a comfort to her. My wife had to stay in the hospital in Tyler for a few days. It was really emotionally difficult, as well as physically, what she had been through.

    But now the government would say, Though it may absolutely devastate you and break your heart to know of some young girl who wants an abortion, you are going to have to help pay for it--pay for the abortion.

    {time} 1700 Even 20 years ago, that would have seemed inconceivable that anybody in the United States, any governmental entity--whether it is executive, legislative or judicial--would say even though they support abortion they are going to make somebody who had religious beliefs fervently against it pay for it. But under ObamaCare, under the so-called Affordable Care Act, that has happened.

    Some of us told the President we have solutions; we have sent word to the White House many times we have solutions. We have been told--and we heard the President say it again here recently in the last few days-- that they don't have any solutions. I remember him saying those same things back 4 years ago when, obviously, it was spoken out of ignorance. I know he didn't intend to deceive anybody. He apparently did not know that there were people who had great alternatives.

    For my part, the bill I proposed, the solution I proposed, would return control of people's health care to themselves. If you like Medicare and you are a senior, great, stay on Medicare; but if you would like a Cadillac policy, not a bronze but a gold-plated, platinum- plated policy, then we will pay for that. Say $5,000 now might be an appropriate--of course, some of the policies I was looking at, a $5,000-$6,000 deductible, policies like that makes them a lot cheaper for seniors--and then give the seniors the cash for the whole deductible so they wouldn't be out a dime.

    I proposed that to representatives of the AARP. They were so gracious, came to my office, I explained it: this would be so awesome for seniors because it means they will never have to buy another supplemental policy; they will never have to buy another wrap-around insurance policy. And seniors' money is so tight on Social Security. It is really tight. I know a family that struggled, but they bought the supplemental policy.

    Now, won't that be great? I know AARP cares so much about seniors. This would be great. Well, we will have to look at it, look at it closely, give us some more information and we will look at it. Stupid me, I was just too naive. I didn't know AARP made many more times off selling supplemental insurance than they did off membership dues or anything like that, that it was just a cash cow for AARP to sell supplemental insurance.

    So, of course, they couldn't afford to say that a policy that just really was a wonderful thing for seniors--no more out-of-pocket for deductible, co-pay, this just took care of them, and they made their own choices, and they had a debit card to pay for their health care all the way through their deductible amount. How could I expect AARP when they are making hundreds of millions of dollars clear profit off of supplemental policies say, oh, let's forego the supplemental policies for the good of seniors. So, obviously, they didn't.

    But we can and do have alternatives for health care reforms that are true reforms that get competition back in health care. How can you have a free market system working in health care if nobody knows what any procedure, anything really costs? If it is medicine, they know their co-pay.

    We have got to get back to the point where people know what things cost and they have more direct control. If we get to a place where we are truly helping those who cannot help themselves and we make it advantageous for those to put in a health savings account money so that they can take care of their own deductible if they are under 65, they are not on Medicare and bill to that point, and then it becomes very clear that most people when they start at an early age will have so much money in their health savings account built up that they hadn't spent over the years that they not only will not want the government telling them what kind of health care they can have, they won't need it.

    And then for those who are young and chronically ill that will never build up an HSA, those who are actually unable to help themselves, we help them. There is a very small percentage that would be; but under the Affordable Care Act, as it is called, unjustly, the government gets control. As I have said, it is all about the GRE, the government running everything. They get to run your lives because when they can control health care, they can control everything.

    They control not only what is in your bedroom--I have heard so many folks on the other side of the aisle say, we don't want the government in the bedroom. Well, I don't either; but now by the bill they passed, ObamaCare basically puts the government in every room in your house. They tell you--well, it is just so invasive.

    But if we can get back to the day where insurance companies and the government did not tell people what they could or couldn't have for their well-being, if we restored the independence to Americans by helping the economy just bring about a new economic renaissance--I have talked to so many people. They are in business and they are so afraid. They are afraid to hire anybody because of ObamaCare. They are afraid because of the EPA or the intrusiveness of the Justice Department, OSHA, all of these governmental agencies that come out of nowhere when you are trying to stay in business and keep your employees paid.

    If they didn't have to worry so much about a government that is so invasive, this economy would take off. People would be making so many times more than what they are in so many places. We would end up being energy independent. What we thought we never could be 9 years ago when I first got here, we can be that. We use natural gas that we have got hundreds of years of. Just what we know, for goodness sake. Then we could be not only energy independent; that would mean we were not funding any country's terrorism where some of their energy money goes for terrorism. We would see an economic renaissance; we would see the economy explode, and people would have enough money.

    With all the money they would be getting paid, they would be able to say, look, Doctor, I want to know how much you are charging and how much you are charging because you are both very good doctors. But if one of you is charging $6,000 for an MRI and one of you is charging $400 for an MRI--and I have been challenged on that and actually I am familiar with what some insurance companies have paid for MRIs over the years, because as an attorney when you help somebody who has been in a car wreck or been injured by the negligence of another, if you have a settlement or you win a court case, then you are required under Texas law to put that money in an escrow account and you cannot distribute it until such time as the medical has been paid. So you had to make sure everybody had been paid.

    When they were paid in full, then you checked if there was a health insurance company. Okay, everybody says they have been paid in full; I have got documentation from all the health care providers you have paid them in full under [[Page H7673]] their agreement with you. So now all I need to know is how much you paid for these charges, and then I reimburse you, and then I can disburse what is in escrow.

    There were companies that had paid less than $400 for an MRI, much less. So anyway, our CAT scans, it is amazing how little--and I have seen bills recently $6,000 being charged for an MRI. Well, they are not getting paid $6,000. But then, on the other hand, if you come in and say, I need an MRI, but I don't have insurance, then normally they will cut you a deal. Okay, you are paying cash, we may cut you a deal. Say they had a 50 percent off sale: we will only charge you $3,000. Well, for heaven's sake, why couldn't you just pay what Blue Cross paid? Why couldn't you pay what Aetna paid? That is the kind of thing a real reform would get us back to. You don't get a bill for $6,000 or nobody goes to them anymore. You have to know what is being charged, and we have got to get control back to the individual.

    Anyway, when you are looking at how much things cost, I can identify with people in America. We have three daughters; they finished their college. We had set money aside years ago when I was in private practice making more money--actually, in municipal bonds, and when they got in college it was going to more than take care of each year. But after I had a huge cut in pay to go become a State district judge--I felt like it was something of a calling, something to help my community, a way to give back, even though you really put a lid on what you can make financially--we ended up going through that money.

    I was determined that my three girls would not have to pay college loans that they wouldn't have had to pay if their father had not gone into public service. This was my contribution to the community, to Texas, to the country. I shouldn't force a contribution onto my children when their college should have been taken care of. So my wife and I are paying the college loans for our children.

    So when you start adding up the expenses and you see the amount of the loans and what has to be paid and then you see you have health insurance here that is now skyrocketing, deductible going dramatically up, wow. I know some have written, gee, what if you are in the hospital for a few days and run up $180,000 or so in health care costs? Well, the answer is easy. If I or my wife ran up $180,000 in health care costs and I don't have insurance, then I would go to the health care providers--as I have done back in the days when I was an attorney--what kind of deal can we cut here, because I pretty well know what the insurance companies are paying you and I expect to get the same kind of deal or we will go to another hospital that will do this kind of cash deal for us? Maybe you take out a note for $18,000 and pay everybody off.

    I have been surprised, even conservatives in the media have not really been aware of how little health care actually costs. They see a bill, like one in the media that said, hey, my father had heart surgery, he could never have paid that $150,000 in expenses, but Medicare took care of it. And as I told him, if you think that costs $150,000, you are not near as smart as I used to think you were. But you negotiate and you work it out and you take out a note and you pay that off.

    I know that there are people running around the country saying, oh, no, oh, no, what if you don't have insurance? Well, nobody in America had insurance at all not that long ago. I don't want to go back to those days. We have made so much progress. But why not build to the point where those who can build a health savings account do that? I am encouraging our leadership: let's don't wait until ObamaCare comes crashing down and the world gets so angry that they demand a repeal and it does get repealed. Let's go ahead and start having hearings now on how good real reform would be, where we have competition, where people get to make their decisions, where people are encouraged to, and do, build a health savings account where they get to decide who they see, that there is no doctor that is out of the plan.

    We need to restore liberty to Americans while giving them a safety net, not a trap net from which you can never arise. It ought to be a safety net where you can come out of; but it is more like we are capturing Americans with a net thrown over them and the government now has that net over you and you can never get out from under. We control everything about you.

    And now we have added 18,000, or we are in the process of adding 18,000 IRS agents. If you think a proctologist looks closely into your situation, wait until the IRS agents get hold of you.

    {time} 1715 I mean it should not be that way. We have got to restore freedom in America. This article says, ``4 in 10, we would rather pay the fine than buy insurance.'' People in the media are freaking out, how stupid, how crazy. Well, actually, it doesn't help the survival of ObamaCare or the Affordable Care Act, as it is improperly named.

    My staff has given me this. We just had someone else report that here is another constituent whose policy expires July 2014, but they stand to lose $40,000 if they try to keep it. They can't get definitive information, but they had to make a decision by December 7, and they don't know what to do. And they are sure not getting that help from the Web site.

    Here is an article, ``Oregon signs up just 44 people for ObamaCare despite spending $300 million.'' Well, there was a great investment. Well, probably as good as investing it in Solyndra and all the other solar companies. ``Paper Application Missing From Healthcare .gov,'' another great article, Jeryl Bier from the Weekly Standard. ``ObamaCare sign-ups rise, but 800,000 short of their goal.'' All of these are really harbingers of the complete failure of ObamaCare.

    I don't mean anything derogatory by using the term ``ObamaCare.'' I am sure that President Obama didn't mean anything derogatory by calling health care in Massachusetts ``RomneyCare.'' So just as I am absolutely certain the President never meant--and Democrats never meant--anything offensive by using the term ``RomneyCare,'' we don't mean anything offensive or derogatory by using the term ``ObamaCare.'' The President embraced it one time.

    Anyway, it requires looking at more closely the reforms that need to be made. I would rather have insurance. I wasn't crazy about my insurance, but I liked it okay. We had health savings accounts. We have got to work out what do we do with the money we built up in our health savings account. Hopefully, Aetna is not going to screw us over and not let us have the money we built up.

    There were certainly some reforms that needed to be made to the health savings account law so that we do have more flexibility. You could put unlimited amounts in there, but once it is in there, it has to be used for health care. You can't pay a penalty and fine and take some out. So that you build some up, you could give some of your HSA out to, say, a Salvation Army HSA.

    I know there is not one out there right now, but those kind of things. You could gift some of your HSA to your children without tax implications. You have money in your HSA when you pass away, then you could leave it to your heirs or to a charity HSA. I mean, there are all kinds of great things that we could do if we passed proper laws to make this work better.

    But the goal would ultimately be to have health care affordable. The President and so many keep saying, you know, interchangeably, health care and health insurance. They are not the same thing. You can get health care without having any health insurance. I know that because I have waited hours behind people in the emergency room with children or with family, seniors. I have known that people ahead of us, that didn't have any money, didn't have any insurance, they got health care just like I did, at the emergency room. That was when I had insurance and my in-laws had insurance, Medicare, but everybody was getting the same kind of care.

    So health insurance and health care for my liberal friends in the media, Mr. Speaker, they are not the same thing. They are not the same thing at all.


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