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Shelley C.

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  • Obamacare

    by Representative Shelley Moore Capito

    Posted on 2015-12-01

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    CAPITO. Mr. President, I wish to address ObamaCare repeal. As I was thinking about what I was going to say today, I went back and looked at a speech I made on the House of Representatives floor on March 21, 2010. The previous speaker talked about the partisanship that she perceives now. I thought it interesting. I am going to read just a couple quotes from my speech then: ``[We are thinking about] this bill as a blanket, a blanket of health care legislation that may be draped across America and its population in the coming years,'' which it has for the last 4 years. I talk about how ``its cloth has been cut behind closed doors and its color is tinged by partisan hands.'' That is the ObamaCare legislation and the ObamaCare plan we have today. ``The huge holes will not protect the cold winds of job loss, new taxes, government bureaucracy, and increased health care costs. . . . All of America will feel the weight of this uncomfortable burden.'' Those were my words on March 21, 2010, in the House of Representatives.

    Today and later this week, the Senate will consider a bill to repeal that bill, ObamaCare, a costly disaster that 4 years--5 years later we see has cost countless people access to their doctors, access to the health care plan of their choice, and thousands of West Virginians from my State have lost or had to change their coverage. We ought to ask the individuals and families whose premiums and deductibles have skyrocketed and the small businesses that have been forced to cut hours and employees.

    Let's consider the exchanges that are folding and the hospitals that are facing unmanageable costs. Even the Nation's largest health insurance provider has threatened to pull out of ObamaCare, citing high costs and growing risks. Just today, the CEO of that company said that joining ObamaCare was ``a bad decision.'' There has to be a better way, and we need to find it.

    In the bill we are considering this week, the Senate will do two major things: It will repeal significant portions of the health care law that are not working. It will also provide a bridge to replace this law with an improved health care system. This ObamaCare repeal bill will eliminate enforcement of the individual and employer mandates. It will repeal $1 trillion--$1 trillion--in onerous taxes. It will save and strengthen Medicare. It will also dedicate resources to fight the growing drug epidemic that is sweeping across this country. Certainly in our [[Page S8218]] State of West Virginia we have had many difficulties, as many of our fellow Americans have.

    ObamaCare has upended our health care system and has broken many of the President's own promises. Headline after headline in recent weeks has called attention to the increasing premiums Americans will face next year. Across the Nation, rates for one out of every three ObamaCare plans will double in the year 2016.

    For plans that are not seeing huge premium increases, rising deductibles are placing an excessive burden on patients--but not just on patients; let's think about our health care providers, our hospitals, for example. When a patient has a high deductible and comes in for an expensive surgery, that patient has to pay a $4,000 or $5,000 deductible. That is unaffordable for a lot of people, and that hospital is stuck with that bill.

    The situation in my State is even worse. West Virginia is the only State in the country with only one insurer participating on the exchange. Remember, the President promised us choice and the ability to make decisions for ourselves. We have one choice in West Virginia. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield has been the only company in the West Virginia exchange through the first 2 years of ObamaCare, and we recently learned that it almost pulled out of the exchange for 2016. That would have been disastrous for our constituents. And why are they pulling out? Because they are losing millions of dollars on a health care plan that was promised to be a blanket, to blanket all of us, as I said in the speech I gave in 2010. It has turned out to be a blanket with huge holes.

    With only one provider, choices and accesses are already limited, but for many Americans, the exchanges set up under ObamaCare have become their only option. Because of increasing costs, many are now unable to afford the health insurance without subsidies.

    While Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield--the exchange insurance in West Virginia--did remain in West Virginia, premiums are set to increase this year or next year by 24 percent. These increases are well beyond the financial reach of most West Virginians. Our unemployment in West Virginia has skyrocketed because of the President's energy policies, and now we are looking at hard-working West Virginians and telling them their health care that was supposed to be affordable and accessible is going up 24 percent. That is unconscionable.

    As one of my constituents pointed out, ``This represents a significant challenge to our family budget as my husband's pay has not increased at the rate that our health care costs continue to rise.'' What about ObamaCare's promise to lower the cost of health care? The reality is really quite different.

    As another West Virginian put it, ``The law remains a failure by the administration's own metrics, and its harmful impact continues to make life more difficult for millions across the country.'' By repealing ObamaCare, we can revisit the problems caused by the health care law and the problems that existed before, replace them with reforms that work, and protect those whose coverage has been disrupted.

    In order to ensure individuals do not lose access to current coverage, this ObamaCare repeal bill will provide a 2-year transition period. This period will give us time to enact alternative reforms that will provide access to quality, affordable care without disrupting coverage. Health care reform should give States and individuals choice--remember, in my State we don't have a choice; we have one provider, no choice--while reducing health care costs over the long term. Premiums are going up 24 percent, and deductibles are skyrocketing. That is not containing costs over the long term.

    Americans deserve a health care system that works for them, and we know ObamaCare is not it. There is a better way.

    I yield the floor.

    I suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

    The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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