A picture of Senator John Barrasso
John B.
Republican WY

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  • Obamacare

    by Senator John Barrasso

    Posted on 2015-12-01

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    BARRASSO. Mr. President, soon we will be debating the future of ObamaCare. The American people have told us they want Congress to repeal this so-called health care law. They told us to start over with real health care reform. This actually shouldn't be a very controversial vote. It is clear, even to the law's supporters, that the Obama health care law has not worked out in any way they had specifically expected. The ObamaCare health care law is collapsing, whether the President wants to admit it or not.

    Democrats should really be eager to join us to help fix the damage that has been done by this law. So far they have been much more focused on protecting President Obama's legacy than on protecting the American people and the health of the American people from ObamaCare.

    Last month President Obama did a radio show in which he was asked about the law and about problems with the law because people all across the country are seeing significant problems with the law. The President would not admit to a single problem with this law. He insisted: ``It has been a success.'' Well, I go home to Wyoming every weekend. I am a doctor. I practiced medicine in Wyoming for 25 years, and the people whom I talk to--my patients, my neighbors, people all around the State, and the people whom I run into in my travels--do not consider ObamaCare a success.

    Democrats come to the floor and say: It is OK that insurance rates are rising. Remember when the President said they would go down by $2,500 per family? The Democrats say it is OK that the insurance rates are rising because they say the rates also went up before the law. What they won't tell you is that premiums aren't just going up a little; they are going up a lot next year. Actually, they are going through the roof.

    There was a study by the McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform. They found that the median increase for the bronze plans went up 13 percent from this year to next year. That is just the average. That means for half of the people, they are going to pay more than that. The silver plan is up 11 percent, the platinum plan is up 12 percent, and the gold plan is up 15 percent. These double-digit price increases are not a success.

    Democrats have come to the floor and have talked about some of the people who have gotten insurance coverage since the law took effect. What they won't tell you is that having insurance coverage is not the same thing as getting medical care.

    The New York Times ran an article about 2 weeks ago with this headline: ``Many Say High Deductibles Make Their Health Law Insurance All But Useless.'' They don't even call it health insurance. They call it health law insurance because it is insurance to comply with the law and not to actually give you the health care. It is astonishing. Even the New York Times calls it health law insurance.

    The article tells the story about David Reines from Jefferson Township, NJ. He is 60 years old and has a history of chronic knee pain. This man says: ``The deductible, $3,000 a year, makes it impossible to actually go to a doctor.'' He says: ``We have insurance, but can't afford to use it.'' President Obama, this is not a success. Democrats who support the health care law say that it created these marketplaces where people can shop for insurance. What they won't tell you is that companies have been pulling out of the marketplaces and exchanges all across the country. More than half of the State co-ops have gone out of business and have failed. The largest health insurance company in America says that it may drop out of the program entirely next year.

    In Wyoming, there is just one company participating in the ObamaCare exchange. That is the choice on the Wyoming exchange--one. Does President Obama consider that a success? Democrats say a lot of people like their insurance plans. Well, they won't tell you about the Gallup poll last month that found that the American people are far from happy. Just 33 percent of Americans said that the health care coverage in this country is either excellent or good--one out of three. Only one out of five is satisfied with the total cost of their health care.

    Now, both of these numbers are worse than they were when President Obama took office. When asked: How are you going now compared to where you were when Barack Obama moved into the White House, people will tell you that when it comes to health care, it is worse.

    Another survey last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that just 38 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the health care law. Is that the way President Obama measures success? Is that what he calls a success? Why won't the Democrats come to the floor and talk about these surveys? Democrats come down to the floor and say that ObamaCare has put millions of people on Medicaid. I am not sure how many of them have a full understanding of Medicaid. As a doctor who practiced medicine for 24 years, I can tell you a lot about Medicaid. They won't say anything about this failed program. They won't admit to the fact that Medicaid is a failed program.

    [[Page S8220]] A new study last month found that cancer patients with Medicaid in California--we have 2 Senators from California who voted for this law-- are less likely to get recommended treatment and they have a lower survival rate than people with other types of insurance. The Democrats celebrate the fact that they have all of these new people on Medicaid. This is not a success. Democrats don't want to talk about any of this.

    Nobody on this side of the aisle is denying that there are people who have been helped by the health care law. Why won't any Democrat come to the floor of the Senate and admit that for every person who has benefited, someone else may have been harmed and may have suffered? Why won't Democrats admit and the President admit that the law has not lived up to their promises? Why did we need a 2,000-page law that upended the entire health care system in this country basically to expand the broken Medicaid program? None of this had to happen. None of this is what people were asking for when Democrats wrote their law behind closed doors back there. It is certainly not what people are asking for today. This health care law has been expensive, disruptive, and devastating. It is headed for collapse, and if Democrats won't admit it, then they are just kidding themselves.

    Republicans are ready to move on with a better approach. We will work to lower costs and make insurance affordable for all Americans. We will make sure that people who need insurance can actually get usable insurance. That means making coverage equal care. That is what it should do. Coverage ought to equal care. We will give people freedom, flexibility, and choice to allow patients to make the decisions that are best for them and their family--not Washington and President Obama telling them what is best for them and their family. Those people will be making those decisions for themselves. We will protect consumers by making insurance predictable and stable so people don't have to switch their coverage and their doctor every year.

    Finally, we are going to fix Washington by making Medicare and Medicaid stronger for people who will absolutely rely on these programs.

    President Obama and Democrats in Congress do have a choice. They can join with Republicans in accepting the inevitable. They can act now to reform our health care system in a way that works or they can stand by and watch as the wheels continue to come off of ObamaCare. The program is collapsing, and it is unavoidable. Congress should not allow this health care law to harm the American people for one day longer. Democrats should work with us to create a replacement that actually delivers care, not just unusable coverage.

    I thank the Presiding Officer, and I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.


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