Concurrent Resolution on the Budget, Fiscal Year 2016—Conference Report—Continuedby Senator John Barrasso
Posted on 2015-05-05
BARRASSO. Mr. President, today, for the first time in 6 years,
Congress will pass a budget, and we are passing a budget that actually
balances. This fulfills another basic responsibility of governing and
an important promise Republicans made to the American people.
In advance of this vote, I wish to take a moment to applaud Chairman Mike Enzi for his leadership on this issue. Because of his strong work, our balanced budget will help grow our economy, reduce the debt, repeal ObamaCare, and rein in Washington overreach. Our balanced budget proves that the Senate is fully working again on behalf of the American people.
ObamaCare Mr. President, I wish to speak about another issue that is also important to Americans across the country, an issue which I hear about as I travel the State of Wyoming and which I heard about this weekend.
Last week, the Democratic leader came to the floor of the Senate and he made some very interesting statements about the President's health care law. He said ObamaCare is a smashing success. That was last week.
On Monday, we had this headline in the Wall Street Journal: U.S. Emergency Room Visits Keep Climbing: People on Medicaid turn to hospital care when doctor access is limited, new survey suggests.
It is interesting to take a look at this large story and learn about how the number of visits to emergency rooms keeps climbing in spite of what the President promised during the debate of the President's health care law.
The article goes on to say: Emergency room visits continue to climb in the second year of the Affordable Care Act, contradicting the law's supporters who had predicted a decline in traffic as more people gained access to doctors and other health care providers.
This is according to a survey by the American College of Emergency Physicians. They should know; they are the ones in the emergency room treating patients. The group says that people whom the health care law pushed on to Medicaid--pushed on to Medicaid--are having trouble getting appointments or even finding a doctor to take care of them because it is someone who doesn't take their new coverage. Does the Democratic minority leader think that is a smashing success? This is a survey of over 2,000 emergency room doctors. Seventy-five percent of them said they have seen increases in emergency room care since 2014. Only one out of 20 ER doctors said they have seen a decrease.
The article quotes one doctor, Dr. Howard Mell, as saying: ``There was a grand theory the law would reduce ER visits.'' A grand theory? Yes, it was.
He said: ``Well, guess what, it hasn't happened. Visits are going up despite the [law], and in a lot of cases because of it.'' That is according to one emergency room doctor who sees the results of the Obama health care law every day in the emergency room where he takes care of patients.
This really shouldn't surprise anyone. We have seen the warning signs coming now for a while. Back in December, the Department of Health and Human Services found that more than half of the health care providers listed for Medicaid plans--half listed as taking Medicaid patients-- couldn't schedule appointments for patients, and they are even listed with Health and Human Services as taking care of Medicaid patients. This is only of the doctors who actually care for Medicaid patients in the first place. We know that about half of doctors won't see Medicaid patients at all because the reimbursement is so low for taking care of them.
For more than one-quarter of the doctors, the wait time for a patient to actually get an appointment is more than a month. Does the Democratic leader think that is a smashing success, waiting more than a month to see a doctor? Last year, almost half of doctors said they had seen an increase in emergency [[Page S2637]] room visits, and now we see it is much higher. Some supporters of the law last year said that wasn't important. They said: Don't worry, the numbers will drop off after the first year as more people get primary care physicians. Well, it hasn't happened, and it has actually gotten worse. About half of the ER doctors saw an increase in the first year of ObamaCare coverage and 75 percent saw an increase this year, the second year.
It is not getting better. It continues to get worse, to the point that USA TODAY had an article dated May 4, yesterday, page 1: ``ER Visits Surge Despite ObamaCare.'' It says: Three-quarters of emergency room doctors say they are seeing ER patient visits surge since ObamaCare took effect-- just the opposite of what many Americans expected would happen.
It is not what many Americans expected would happen.
Look at what the President said would happen. Back in 2009, the President was trying to pass the law, and President Obama said this: ``If everybody's got coverage, then they're not going to go to the emergency room for treatment.'' That was one of the biggest reasons the law required everyone in America to have insurance coverage. Remember, that is the mandate. It is called the individual mandate, and it remains extremely unpopular today. The President kept saying it over the years. He said it early on, he said it during the debate, and he said it after the law passed. He continues to hold this position in spite of the fact that 75 percent of emergency room doctors--2,000 doctors who actually work in emergency rooms--are saying: It is not true, Mr. President. The ERs are getting more and more crowded.
We see what happens when an ER gets more crowded: The wait time goes up, the mortality rates for patients trying to get treatment there goes up--because of the health care law.
In 2013, the President told one group of people: ``It means that all the providers around here, instead of having to take in folks in the emergency room, they suddenly have customers who have insurance.'' The President's statements continue to fly in the face of reality. According to the people who really know what is going on, the medical coverage is not keeping people out of emergency rooms. It has become crystal clear that coverage does not equal care. Not only is ObamaCare coverage not delivering care, in many cases the system to provide the coverage isn't even working.
There was an article last Friday in the Washington Post. The headline was ``Nearly half of ObamaCare exchanges are struggling over their future.'' It says: ``Nearly half of the 17 insurance marketplaces set up by the states and the District [of Columbia] under President Obama's health laws are struggling financially.'' Does the minority leader think that is a smashing success? According to this article, ``many of the online exchanges are wrestling with surging costs, especially for balky technology and expensive consumer call centers--and tepid enrollment numbers.'' It talks about problems in Minnesota, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Colorado. In Oregon, the exchange has failed so spectacularly that the State had to shut it down entirely.
The Washington Post says: ``States have already received nearly $5 billion in Federal grants to establish the online marketplaces.'' That is $5 billion that hard-working American taxpayers had to pay to set up these exchanges, and half of these exchanges, in spite of all of that taxpayer money, are now struggling financially.
This article quotes one expert, Sabrina Corlette, who is a project director at Georgetown University's Center for Health Insurance Reforms. She said: ``A lot of people are going to want to know: What happened to all those taxpayer dollars?'' Well, that is what a lot of Senators want to know. That is exactly what Senators on this side of the aisle have been asking for quite a while now. What happened to all of that hard-earned taxpayer money? How much of that $5 billion was wasted? The States with these failing exchanges are now looking at raising taxes and raising fees on everybody else's insurance claims. So in half of the States, the exchanges where people are supposed to sign up for coverage are failing. Billions of taxpayer dollars wasted, and States are looking at charging people even more. That is the President's solution for health care in America.
People who do get coverage and want to see a doctor may have to wait for more than a month. They may end up going to the emergency room along with millions of other eople since ObamaCare's mandates began.
Does the minority leader, who came to the floor last week calling this health care law a smashing success, really think that is so? This is not what the American people wanted from health care reform. People knew what they wanted, and they wanted something very simple: They wanted the care they need from a doctor they choose at a lower cost. ObamaCare has failed on every one of those things. It is not a smashing success.
It is time for us to finally give Americans the health care they were asking for all along.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.