Executive Sessionby Senator Tim Scott
Posted on 2013-12-11
SCOTT. To change the rules our friends on the left had to break
the rules. We are here tonight because the Obama administration and our
friends on the left needed a distraction by invoking the nuclear option
leading up to the vote on Nina Pillard of the DC Circuit. They are
attempting to quiet a disaster of their own making.
[[Page S8666]] Please note that this is a court that will hear the ACA disputes. It was easy enough for them to paint a rosy picture of life after ObamaCare. For 3 years they did it, and they did their best to do so, but words could only go so far and no speech will help the failed implementation of the monster they have created.
Health care premiums for the average American family have already gone up by $2,500 since ObamaCare has become law. I wish to say that one more time. The average premium that an American family will have to face and then pay is $2,500.
As costs continue to rise for middle-class Americans, the median household income has dropped by more than $3,600 under President Obama. If we take $2,500 and add in the drop of income of $3,600, the difference for the average American household under President Obama's watch is significant. That doesn't even take into consideration the skyrocketing costs and the increasing deductibles under ObamaCare.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the average individual deductible for what is called a Bronze plan on the exchange, the lowest-priced coverage is a $5,000 average deductible. This is 42 percent higher than the average deductible today of $3,589 one would currently purchase in 2013.
Tell me how this helps those in need. How does this help the most vulnerable in our society? The answer is simple. It doesn't.
We are here because Democrats need a break from having this pointed out to them again and again as newspapers, magazines, and TV stations have been doing for the last several weeks.
In South Carolina we have about 4.7 million people and 600,000 or 700,000 folks do not have health insurance coverage. Think about that. There are 4.7 million South Carolinians, of which about 700,000 today do not have health insurance.
Under ObamaCare, we would hope that the number would go down, not up, that it would go down from 700,000 to 600,000 or 500,000 or 400,000. Over 430,000 of the 700,000 people are eligible for ObamaCare. The number is not going down. The number is going up because 150,000 South Carolinians have received cancellation notices.
Let us frame that a little bit. We have 700,000 uninsured, of which 430,000 are eligible for ObamaCare. Instead of seeing the number of uninsured go from 700,000 down to 600,000 or 500,000 or 400,000, we have seen the number go up because 150,000 people have received cancellation notices--150,000 South Carolinians have received cancellation notices.
Someone would obviously ask the question: How many folks have signed up for ObamaCare in South Carolina? If 430,000 South Carolinians are eligible to sign up, we ought to answer the question of how many have signed up.
As of late November, only 600 South Carolinians have successfully signed up for ObamaCare. This means that under the implementation process of what some consider the solution to America's woes on health insurance, only 600 South Carolinians have been able to successfully sign up for ObamaCare, even though 430,000 are eligible and 700,00 do not have insurance. Only 600 of them have been able to sign up for ObamaCare.
When we think about those numbers, it reminds me of the challenges we face with going through the process of seeing the DC Circuit Court stacked to hear the disputes.
Part of the challenge we see is that ObamaCare hasn't worked, so stacking the court seems that it is the most likely option for our friends on the left.
When we started out having these conversations about ObamaCare, we started a conversation about those who are uninsured. I think every American in our country wants to see greater access to health insurance.
The vast majority of Americans do not want to see the government take it over, and now we understand why. In 2009--not 1999, but 2009--we had estimated for the unaffordable care act around $900 billion. In 2011 they came back and said: Wait, wait, I need to take another look at this.
The estimate came back at $1.8 trillion. In 2009, it was $900 billion and in 2011 the number had already increased to $1.8 trillion or a 100- percent increase in the estimated cost of the Affordable Care Act.
Only 2 more years later we could see that the number could perhaps eclipse $3 trillion. All we are talking about is the up-front pricetag, the price of ObamaCare on the front. We haven't delved into the actual cost of ObamaCare because those estimates say that on the back end of the Affordable Care Act we are going to see a $7 trillion increase or addition to our debt.
We started in 2009 with $900 billion; in 2011, $1.8 trillion; in 2013, perhaps over $3 trillion, adding $7 trillion to the deficit. That is not the whole picture.
Families in South Carolina still have to struggle with finding access to affordable health care, and ObamaCare is not simply providing the access. We see families such as the Hucks, the everyday American family. Mr. Hucks loves his family. He is in Greenville, SC. He loves his family. He spends 12 to 14 hours a day working as a financial adviser in South Carolina.
Mr. Hucks, unfortunately, faces the challenge of buying health insurance through ObamaCare. As he went through the process of trying to figure out what would happen--certainly he liked his coverage, but, of course, he can't keep it, period. He can't keep it. He cannot keep his coverage.
As I was talking to Jason Hucks in Greenville 2 weeks ago, Jason currently has a Blue Cross Blue Shield high-deductible plan. Remember the word ``deductible'' because we will come back and have a conversation about deductibles. He has a high-deductible plan that covers him, his wife, and their two cute little boys.
Instead of having a conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Hucks about planning for the college education of those two fine young men, they are having instead a conversation about whether they can afford the health care coverage.
What has happened? Let us take a look. Their current plan was a $10,000 deductible that cost them over $415 a month.
To stay on the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan under ObamaCare, Mr. Hucks and his family would have to pay nearly $1,000 a month--$895--almost $1,000 a month, more than doubling the premium. They will see their deductible increase by 150 percent.
A deductible that was $10,000 is pretty high, significantly high. It will go to $25,000 for this young family of four. That doesn't seem right to me; it doesn't seem fair.
We believe in fairness. For those who are most vulnerable, having access to $25,000 before their health insurance company is able to start paying is quite a high price to pay. Digging into your savings account for $25,000--because ObamaCare takes their $10,000 deductible, and not the $15,000, not the $20,000, but the $25,000--is simply not fair. This is not how we treat the most vulnerable in our society, by seeing their deductible go up by 150 percent. I simply don't understand. It is just wrong. It is not right.
Even if they were willing to switch companies, he would still see his rates rise almost 75 percent and his deductible would still rise from $10,000 to $12,000. No wonder they are trying to stack the DC courts. We see here a young family not planning for a 529 plan, not planning to send their kids to Clinton University or the University of South Carolina, but instead they are planning on tightening their belts because they have to have a budget that plans for not a $10,000 deductible but a $12,000 deductible, with a 20-percent increase in the deductible and a 75-percent increase in the cost. This is the effect of the Affordable Care Act. It becomes unaffordable for the average American family.
As for a plan with copays, Mr. Hucks says flatly that he can't afford to have a conversation about copays because a plan with a copay would skyrocket his premiums from $415 or so to as high as $1,200 or $1,500 a month. So instead of being able to go see a doctor and have a conversation and pay a 20-percent copay, instead of having the opportunity to do what many of us have been doing for the last decade- plus--pay a $15 or $20 or $25 or $30 copay when you go see your doctor--he has to first satisfy a deductible of not $15,000 but now a $25,000 deductible. This is higher than $15,000. This is wrong. It is not right.
Mr. Hucks' family is an example of how it is not just premiums that are [[Page S8667]] rising but deductibles are going through the roof. This is painful for a family who should be planning for college but instead is planning to spend more money on their health care because the Affordable Care Act is so unaffordable.
The New York Times recently quoted someone faced with this problem as saying the deductibles were so high--$4,000 to $6,000 a year--that it very much defeats the purpose of having insurance. I wonder why we say that. Well, think about it for a minute or two. Think about a family who has a $4,000 deductible. What does that mean to the average family, where Americans are spending over 100 percent of their income? What that means to the average family is they have to figure out how to pay $4,000 for visiting their doctors, getting their x rays, and having everything done at the doctor's office, getting their blood work done, before they can satisfy that $4,000 deductible and their health insurance plan starts paying. Under ObamaCare, one would think that number would go down, but it doesn't. It goes up. As a matter of fact, it goes up quickly in the first year of ObamaCare. It goes from an average out-of-pocket expense of $63.50 to over $12,000--not $4,000, not $5,000, not $6,000 but over $12,000 in out-of-pocket expenses.
So I am looking forward to the day we have a serious conversation about a free market solution that would reduce the cost of health insurance and at the exact same time create greater access for the average person in America to afford a free market health insurance policy. That is where we need to go. That is where the conversation should be. Instead of having that conversation, we are having a conversation about deductibles jumping $5,000, out-of-pocket expenses going up significantly. And I should have said that when you combine the out-of-pocket expenses and the deductibles, the out-of-pocket total for a year is the $12,000. The average deductible is a little over $5,000.
We are talking about a significant taking from the average American family--taking their money out of their pockets in the form of deductibles, taking money out of their pockets in the form of copays. And God forbid they actually go outside of the network. In many of these plans, we are talking about zero coverage out of network for ambulatory care. A family would bear 100 percent of the cost. So don't travel to the wrong place with the wrong plan at the wrong time. You will find yourself stuck without benefits because, unfortunately, the ACA isn't affordable for most Americans. I find that sad.
We think we are having a conversation about nominees here today, and we think we are having a conversation about nominees because President Obama has somehow, some way been treated differently than President Bush and other folks. But the facts are simply inconsistent with the reality of the alternate universe that has been created by the left.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. All postcloture time has expired.