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John B.
Republican WY

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  • Obamacare

    by Senator John Barrasso

    Posted on 2015-06-17

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    BARRASSO. Mr. President, last week, President Obama spoke at a meeting of the Catholic Health Association, and he told the association that his health care law, as he said, ``worked out better than some of us anticipated.'' Well, I can tell you that the President's health care law has worked out much worse--much worse--than the American people expected. It has worked out much worse than the President promised it was going to work. Hard-working families all across the country are suffering under the President's complicated, confusing, and costly health care law.

    The new Senator from Michigan just gave his maiden speech this morning, and I welcome him to the Senate. The senior Senator from Michigan just spoke on the floor. Last week, she also spoke on the floor and talked about the millions of Americans who need subsidies to help cover the cost of these outrageously expensive ObamaCare mandates. Well, ObamaCare hurts many of the people in her home State of Michigan.

    This insurance is going to get a lot more expensive for the people of Michigan next year. The Obama administration released new numbers recently showing how much more people are going to have to pay for their ObamaCare plans next year. There is one company in Michigan that has requested a rate increase of 38 percent. There are more than 20,000 people in Michigan who get their ObamaCare insurance from this company today. These people are looking at the prospect of their insurance costing 38 percent more next year. Other families in Michigan are facing rate hikes of 11 percent or 17 percent or 37 percent, depending on the specific plan they are in.

    And it is not just happening in Michigan. In Washington State, one company says its premiums next year will be 19 percent higher. There are more than 7,000 people in Washington State who get their insurance from that company. Another company says it is raising its rates 9.6 percent. People in Washington are facing much higher insurance premiums, and they will still have the narrow networks that so many Americans have to deal with because of ObamaCare. When I say ``narrow network,'' I mean fewer choices of hospitals, fewer choices of doctors to take care of them--limited choices, plus paying more.

    So how big of a problem is it? Well, the Wall Street Journal had an article about these people the other day. On Friday, June 12, the headline was ``Surprises in Health-Law Bills.'' The article says: ``Out-of-network charges often aren't flagged before treatment.'' They call it medical bill shock.

    This is under the President's health care law--medical bill shock; surprises in health-law bills. The article tells the story of Angela Giboney from Mill Creek, WA--Washington State. She has insurance through the State ObamaCare exchange. She has ObamaCare, make no mistake about it. When she went to have a mammogram, it turned out the place that did the screening was outside her network, so she got a bill for $932. President Obama promised that people would pay less under the health care law. Instead, people all across the country are getting stuck with surprise bills because of these narrow networks. And in spite of that, their premiums are going to jump again next year.

    Some Democrats say that people shouldn't worry about these dramatic premium increases because the average increase--this is what the Democrats say--in some places won't be that high. Well, there is a new study that looked at the rate requests in eight different States for next year. It says that in those eight States, premiums for the silver plan in the ObamaCare exchange will only go up by, on average, 6 percent. The study says that in Connecticut, the average silver plan is only going to raise premiums 4 percent. It says if you shop around--if you shop around--you might be able to find a new plan next year that will go up by less than your current plan is going up.

    So they are saying that across the board they are going up. The question is, How much are they going up? And if you shop around, you might be able to find a place they are not going up quite as much as they are with your current plan.

    Is that what President Obama promised the American people? Did he promise the American people the rates would only go up 6 percent? No, that is not what he promised. He said rates would go down by $2,500 per family, per year.

    Did President Obama say your rates will go up a little less if you are willing to change plans every year? No. He said if you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance. That is what the President said.

    Did the President promise that maybe your rates won't go up by quite as much if you are willing to accept a narrow network of providers? Did he say you should change your doctor every year by switching from plan to plan? No, of course not. He said if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.

    I want to make another point about this new study. It is only talking about the average increases across all the plans offered in eight States. Even if the average premium is only going up 6 percent in those eight States, a lot of people are going to end up paying much more.

    There are families in Connecticut who may have to pay 16 percent more next year. That is how much more one company in Connecticut wants to charge almost 26,000 people who buy the ObamaCare plans today. Does the President think these families are happy that the average increase is only 4 percent when they get an increase of 16 percent? Is that what the President means when he says his health care law is working better than he anticipated--and he said it just last week--because there are a lot of people in Connecticut who say it is not working and it is working much worse than they anticipated.

    People have been writing to the State insurance department in Connecticut, and they are angry. They are angry with the President and alarmed at the ObamaCare price hikes. One person wrote that their insurance company is requesting a rate increase of 14.3 percent in Connecticut. For Democrats who say the average may be only 4 percent, some people will be paying over 14 percent more next year. The person asks: Does the average worker get a 14-percent salary increase? That is not what the people of Michigan, Washington, Connecticut or anywhere else thought they were going to get when Democrats called the law the Affordable Care Act.

    Sometime in the next couple of weeks the Supreme Court is going to decide whether it is legal for President Obama to spend some of the billions of taxpayer dollars that he has been spending on the health care law. Now, the decision could affect more than 6 million Americans. Republicans have been watching this case very closely. We have been working on ideas to protect these people and to protect all Americans from the damages caused by the President's health care law.

    If the Court rules against the President, then Republicans will be ready to sit down with Democrats to improve health care in America. We will take the opportunity to protect the people from ObamaCare's broken promises and to provide freedom to the people who are trapped in Washington-mandated health care. It will be up to the President and Democrats in Congress whether they want to join us or if they want to continue to insist that this law is working better than they anticipated. I hope they will work with us--work with us--on reforms that the American people need, want, and deserve.

    I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Georgia.


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