Obamacareby Senator Mitch McConnell
Posted on 2015-05-14
McCONNELL. Mr. President, it is good to see forward momentum on
trade. That is certainly good for the American people. But there are
other issues that both parties should want to address, too, such as the
broken promises of ObamaCare. It would be nice to see more bipartisan
support there, and I hope we will at some point, because we all know
that ObamaCare is a law filled--literally filled--with broken promises.
We all keep seeing reminders of how it failed so many of the same
people we were told it would help.
Back in my State in Kentucky, we are seeing how hospitals and their patients are feeling the negative effects of this partisan law. That is particularly true in the rural areas of my State. A recent report showed that ObamaCare's multibillion-dollar attack on hospitals in Kentucky is expected to result in a net loss of $1 billion over the next few years--a net loss to Kentucky hospitals of $1 billion over the next few years.
These hospitals are expected to lose more money under ObamaCare than they are expected to gain in new revenue from the Medicaid expansion. And, largely due to ObamaCare, these losses are forcing Kentucky hospitals to cut jobs, reduce or freeze wages, and, in some instances, even close altogether. We have lost at least two rural critical-access hospitals this year.
Officials report that Kentucky hospitals are suffering partly because more than three out of every four Kentuckians who signed up for ObamaCare were in fact put on Medicaid, and we know that Medicaid reimburses hospitals for less than it costs to treat patients.
So despite promises that greater access to coverage would decrease visits to the emergency room and the cost associated with those visits, the vast majority of emergency room doctors now say they have actually experienced a surge--a surge--in patients visiting the ER since ObamaCare came into effect.
[[Page S2898]] In fact, a recent survey reported that thousands of ER doctors have actually seen an increase in emergency room visits since the start of last year. One physician from Lexington was quoted as saying he had seen ``a huge backlog in the ER because the volume has increased.'' He went on to say that ER volume rose by almost a fifth in the first few months of this year, which is nearly double--nearly double--what he saw last year in the same period.
There are a lot of reasons for these increases, but as one ER physician put it, ``visits are going up despite the ACA, and in a lot of cases because of it.'' Volume in the ER is driven as a result of coverage expansion, adding a lot of new people, that has largely been born by the Medicaid program. As I have said previously, though, increasing coverage doesn't guarantee access to care, and prior to Medicaid expansion, Kentucky already faced a shortage of physicians participating in Medicaid. Now, there are more than 300,000 additional enrollees--adding 300,000 new people to an already broken system. So when Americans on Medicaid get sick and can't find a doctor, who will treat the Medicaid patients? Where do they end up? Of course, in the emergency room.
Here is how one Kentucky newspaper described it last year: That's just the opposite of what many people expected under ObamaCare, particularly because one of the goals of health reform was to reduce pressure on emergency rooms by expanding Medicaid and giving poor people better access to primary care.
Instead [what is happening], many hospitals in Kentucky and across the nation are seeing a surge of those newly insured Medicaid patients walking right into emergency rooms.
One Kentucky doctor described it as a ``perfect storm''--a perfect storm. ``We've given people an ATM card,'' he said, ``in a town with no ATMs.'' Given ObamaCare's most famous broken promise about Americans being able to keep the health plans they liked, it is easy to see how a person who had access to good insurance and quality care before ObamaCare would find himself or herself forced onto Medicaid and into the emergency room today. A recent report found that among certain hospitals in Kentucky, as many as one in five individuals covered by Medicaid had previously had private health insurance.
So, unfortunately, it wasn't hard to see this coming. A lot of us warned about it. We warned that providing supposed health coverage, without actually giving someone access to health care, is really just a hollow promise. You could promise coverage, but it doesn't mean anything if there is nobody there to care for the people who are covered.
The same could be said of warnings regarding the impact of ObamaCare's deep Medicare cuts and the impact of that on hospitals. I wish the politicians who rammed ObamaCare through over the objections of the American people had heeded these warnings. We made all these warnings 6 years ago.
So this is just one more reminder why ObamaCare is bad for Kentucky, why it is bad for the middle class, and why it is bad for our country.
But here is the good news. The new Congress just passed a balanced budget this week with legislative tools that will allow us to begin to address ObamaCare's broken promises. I hope President Obama and our colleagues across the aisle will work with us to do so.
We owe the American people more than ObamaCare's broken promises. We owe them real health reform that lowers costs and increases choice.
I hope our friends across the aisle will work with us in a bipartisan way to help achieve that important outcome.