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John B.
Republican WY

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  • Military Construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016—Motion to Proceed

    by Senator John Barrasso

    Posted on 2015-09-30

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    Read More about Military Construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016--Motion to Proceed

    BARRASSO. Mr. President, the American people have gotten used to hearing bad news about their health care ever since the Democrats passed ObamaCare. It seems that each and every day there is another headline about another way that the health care law is hurting people. Last Wednesday there was a remarkable amount of bad news in just 1 day. The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, September 23, had this headline: ``Health Insurers Defend Deals.'' If you flip the page over, the bottom half of that page has ``Cost of a family health plan tops $17,000'' with a chart of rising costs. The annual cost of an employer family health coverage, the portion paid by workers, continues to go up--1 day, one page. The top article is about a wave of health insurance company mergers which we have been seeing recently.

    Now, the President said that his health care law would actually increase competition among insurance companies. But just like a lot of the other predictions that President Obama made, this one has not come true. You know, back in June, the insurance company Aetna announced plans to buy Humana. Then the company Anthem decided to buy Cigna.

    Now, if these mergers are approved and continue to go through, it means that the five largest insurance companies in the United States will now be down to three. The President said there would be more competition. Well, Americans are about to have much less competition. It is not only because of the giant insurance company mergers. You know, ObamaCare also set up health co-ops in 24 States. Now, these co- ops were supposed to add competition to help keep prices down.

    Taxpayers put up almost $2.5 billion to help these companies get started. Over the past few months, what has happened? These co-ops have been dropping like flies. Just the other day, regulators in New York shut down the largest ObamaCare co-op in the country. Why? Because it lost so much money. Now 215,000 New Yorkers have fewer options for where they can go to buy Washington-mandated insurance. This is the fourth co-op to fail in the past few months. Another one failed right before it. It had not even enrolled a single person. Think of that: Government loans set up a co-op that doesn't enroll anyone and closes shop. There is only one co-op of the original 24 that is actually making any money so it can stay in business.

    Look, the American people know they are not getting the increased competition the President has promised. They also know they are not getting the lower prices the President has promised.

    Another article came out last Wednesday that talked about how much more Americans are paying for their health care. This was a September 23 New York Times headline: ``Health insurance deductibles rising faster than wages.'' ``Health insurance deductibles rising faster than wages.'' Here it is--unaffordable care. This is from 2010 to 2015. Wages are up 10 percent, premiums up 24 percent, deductibles up 67 percent. The article describes a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. According to Kaiser, health insurance premiums for a single person have gone up more than twice as fast as people's earnings since ObamaCare became law.

    We are talking about all of the people that get their health insurance through work, which is about 150 million Americans. This is not just a small group of people. This is all of the people that get their insurance through work. Deductibles have gone up almost seven times as much as earnings. It is an enormous hit to the finances of American families. The article talked about how these high deductibles are hurting a woman named Beth Landrum. She is 52. She is a teacher.

    The articles says that about 2 years ago, ``Beth saw the deductible on her family's plan increase to $3,300 a year.'' She is a teacher. She is 52--$3,300 a year for the deductible under Obama's health care law.

    So a couple years ago was when a lot of these ObamaCare mandates were really starting to bite. The woman survived a brain tumor 10 years ago. So here she is. She has insurance. She had a brain tumor 10 years ago, successfully treated, but she is putting off having the MRI that has been recommended by her doctor. She says: ``My doctor's mad at me because I haven't had the MRI.'' They want to see if there is any recurrence of the tumor. She said that she and her husband need to save up money to pay for the test, to pay for the deductible--the $3,300 deductible. She has health insurance under ObamaCare, and she can no longer afford to get care--coverage without care. The President continues to ignore this fact about his unaffordable health care law. You cannot afford to get care, not under ObamaCare.

    Now, President Obama promised that people would save $2,500 per family per year under the health care law. But average premiums are up nearly $4,000 since the law passed. Does the President really believe it is affordable? The new study by Kaiser only looked at insurance that people get, as I say, through their jobs. It did not look at the deductibles people are paying when they buy their own insurance through the ObamaCare exchanges.

    President Obama said that these plans would be cheaper than a cell phone bill. That is what he said--cheaper than a cell phone--easier to use than Amazon for shopping on the web and cheaper than a cell phone. Well, let's take a look at the article in the New York Times. That is not how it has worked out for Rebecca Bullard.

    Now, Rebecca is 27. She purchased her plan through her State exchange for $129 a month. To get that plan, she had to accept a deductible of $6,000. But she has ObamaCare. Oh yeah, the President can say: I did her a favor--a $6,000 deductible.

    The article says that when she was worried that she had a cracked rib--do you know how she chose to take care of it? She chose to ask friends on social media about what to do rather than go to a doctor because of the ObamaCare that was actually not worth very much to her. That is how concerned she was [[Page S7028]] about paying the out-of-pocket costs that ObamaCare brought her. She said, ``Now I don't even want to go to the doctor.'' Is that what the President promised the American people--deductibles so high that people don't even want to go to their doctor? People may have coverage, but they cannot afford care. It is unaffordable under the President's plan and mandates. People are paying more and they are getting less. So it is not surprising that this administration is starting to worry. They have to figure out how to convince people that it is worth signing up for this outrageously expensive ObamaCare insurance. That is what the Wall Street Journal said in another article on September 23. There is a picture of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell. There is a picture of her right here on this page. It says: ``Insuring More People Seen as Tough.'' According to this article, the Secretary of Health and Human Services says that ``this open enrollment is going to be tougher than last year.'' We know it is going to be tough for families who are getting hit with higher premiums and other costs. Now, the Obama administration isn't worried about these people; what the Obama administration is now worried about is how tough it is going to be to sign up enough customers for this awful law. You know, by now they were supposed to have 21 million people signed up for ObamaCare by next year. Right now they have fewer than 10 million. They are not even halfway to where they need to be and where they said they would be. What this means is if they don't get more young, healthy customers to sign up, this whole system is likely to collapse. That is why the Obama administration is worried. They are worried about the impacts of their ability to sustain this law.

    There is a reason that people haven't signed up. The people who haven't signed up yet know this insurance is not a good deal for them. It is not good for them personally; it is not worth it. About half of the people who still don't have insurance have less than $100 in savings. How is someone with less than $100 in savings supposed to pay a $6,000 deductible? Why won't the President answer these questions? Why won't the Democrats come to this floor and answer these questions? I haven't seen a Democrat come to address these issues or any of these headlines.

    Look, President Obama promised the American people that his health care law would produce lower costs and produce more choice. Instead, he has given people fewer choices, more powerful insurance companies, higher deductibles, and higher premiums.

    We have had too many of these alarming headlines--and that is in just 1 day alone--and too much bad news about ObamaCare. The American people get it. It is a bad deal for them personally.

    President Obama is a lameduck. He forced a terrible program through Congress. It is time for Democrats in Congress to sit down with Republicans and start talking about the kinds of health care reforms that the American people need, that the American people want, and that the American people deserve.

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