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Chairman's View: Obamacare Is Unraveling Before Our Eyes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate about the most recent negative consequences of the President’s health care law. He specifically discussed how the law will increase claim costs an average of 32% and discourage small businesses from hiring new workers.    

Excerpts of his remarks:

“I come to the floor today as someone who has traveled around my home state of Wyoming for the last couple of weeks, talking to people, listening to what they have to say.

“I do it as a doctor as well as a U.S. Senator, but people there know me as a doctor because I practiced medicine in Wyoming for 25 years, taking care of families from all around the state, and so it's not surprising that in every town I visit, people ask me about what's happening with regard to the President’s health care law.

“Families are worried that they are not going to be able to keep the insurance that they have now and maybe insurance that works pretty well for them, insurance that they like, that they want, that they can afford, but they are concerned that they are not going to be able to keep what they have.

“Employers are also worried. They are worried that they are not going to be able to afford the health care mandates under the President’s health care law.

“So what we were out hearing from folks and families back home, there has actually been a lot in the news, in the national news of the last couple of weeks making the very same points that I was hearing about in Wyoming, and that's what I want to talk about today.

“We have had one headline after another about the dangerous side effects of the health care law.

“For one thing, those employers in Wyoming aren't the only ones who are worried about how much the law is going to cost, how it's going to have an impact on them and their businesses and their ability to hire more people.

“And, you know, according to a new survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the health care law's expensive new mandates are now the number-one concern of small businesses across the country. 71% of small businesses say that the law makes it harder for them to hire new workers.

A third say that they plan to actually reduce hiring or cut back hours because of the employer insurance mandate.

“22 million Americans are out of work or working less than they would like. That's what we saw in the dismal jobs report just this last Friday.

“Companies all around the country are saying hey, we're not going to hire because of the uncertainties and the mandates in the President’s health care law.

“You know, the recession ended four years ago, but the only way that our economy is going to get back on track is if we free up the private sector to start hiring in far greater numbers than they are willing to do right now, but the President’s number-one, his signature accomplishment is a law that makes it harder, actually harder for businesses to hire more people.

“You would expect the President would want to make laws that would make it easier for people to hire more people.

“So there was another headline on how the President’s health care law is hurting small businesses. Here's what the ‘New York Times’ says: ‘Small firm's offer of planned choices under health law delayed.’ 

“Well, what they're talking about is the promise that the President made that his health law would help small businesses find affordable health plans.

“The law was supposed to create a new insurance market for small employers. That's what they were promised. Their workers would then have a variety of choices so then they could pick the plan that worked best for them.

“So the ‘Times’ article says, ‘The promise of affordable health insurance for small businesses was portrayed as a major advantage of the health care law mentioned often by White House officials and Democrat leaders in Congress.’

“So now what's going on? Well, the administration admits things haven't worked out the way that they had promised. Can't meet the law's deadline, so it's going to delay the entire program for a full year to 2015. Of course, the Obama Administration says it will not delay the mandate until 2015.

“So small businesses are going to get hit with higher costs of providing the insurance, but they don't get the program that was supposed to help them in the first place.

“So what we see now is if a business wants to offer its workers insurance through an exchange, it's got to pick one plan for all of the people. The workers are going to get none of the choice that they were promised. According to Washington and this administration and this President now, one size has to fit all.

“Even in a business where the employees now have several choices, they currently have several choices, they are even going to lose their options. They're not going to be able to pick the insurance plan that's right for them and for their families.

“That's what's happening to Zachary Davis. Now, Zachary Davis owns a couple of ice cream shops and a restaurant in Santa Cruz, California.  He has 20 full-time workers and today he offers them health insurance.

“These workers range in age from college students to seniors, so they have different needs. Now what the younger ones prefer are lower premiums and then higher out-of-pocket costs if they happen to get sick. That's because they're healthy and they don't go to see a doctor very often.

“Now the older workers who work in that same company, they visit doctors more frequently, as would be expected.  So, they're more interested in a position where their policies may have higher premiums and lower deductibles.  People want to make choices. 

“So, right now, the employees who work for Zachary have actually three different plans that fit their needs, they get to choose.

“But what Zachary Davis has told CNN is that limiting his workers to a single plan would be a deal breaker and it would keep him out of the exchanges.

“Now, he said ‘That's not going to be a good fit for us. For a business like ours and a lot of businesses I deal with on a regular basis, I can't see that making sense.’

“Well, he's right.  Doesn't make a lot of sense. But that's what President Obama's health care law has given the American people. Something that doesn't make sense and another broken promise.

Another hurdle to get in the way of job creators, another failure of the Washington bureaucracy, and another burden on workers who liked the insurance that they had before and now aren't going to be able to keep it.

“Here's one more headline from the Associated Press story. This headline says that ‘Health overall to raise claim costs 32%.’

“This is a new report by the Society of Actuaries. Then the ‘Wyoming Tribune Eagle’ in Cheyenne, this is Wednesday, March 27, 2013: ‘Health overall bumps up claim costs 32 percent. And if insurance companies have to pay more, you can bet we will, too.’

“So, on average, insurance companies will have to pay out 32% more for medical claims on individual health policies because of the health care law.

“So that's going to drive up premiums for all of us. It drives up how much hardworking Americans have to pay to get medical care and to buy insurance. Why? Well, the President’s health care law.

“Here's how the Associated Press summarized it. It said, ‘Obama has promised that the new law will bring down costs. That seems a stretch now.’

“Mr. President, this isn't me. This is the Associated Press.

“Well, I would say it is actually an understatement. Costs will not go down because of the health care law because the law does nothing to help costs go down or make them go down.  In fact, it does many things that actually cause costs to go up.

“Now, all of the new mandates, all of the new expenses, all of the new taxes –that's all going o add to the average increase of 32%.

“But that's just the average. When you look at the increases in some states, you really start to see how much worse off a lot of people are going to be.

“In Ohio, you see that an increase of 81%. In Wisconsin, up 80%. Indiana, up 68%. Right next door to us here in Maryland , up 67%. Idaho, up 62%. My own state of Wyoming, people are facing a 32% increase. That's right at the national average.

“These are terrible numbers, Mr. President, but they are absolutely predictable. The American people can't afford for health care costs to go up by 81%, as we're seeing in Ohio, or even by 32, which is the national average—that's not what the President promised.

“I want to point out that just one more headline and one more broken promise that the President made. We all remember when the President said, if you like your insurance plan, you can keep it. He said, ‘no one will be able to take that away from you.’

“Well, now we have another story from CNN. It says, ‘Most individual health insurance isn't good enough for Obamacare.’

“This article talks about a University of Chicago study, Chicago, the President’s hometown. The study reported to CNN from the University of Chicago found that more than half, more than half of the individual insurance plans currently on the market will not be allowed to exist under the President’s health care law.

“Well 15 million Americans buy individual plans and half of those plans are going away.

Even if these people like their coverage, well the President says, too bad.  His health care law is taking it away from them.

“Not only will the law eliminate more than half of the plans, most of the ones that remain are going to cost more next year.

“Why? Well, it's because of what the administration calls the essential health benefits. These are specific, individual mandates that require insurance plans to cover a wide range of services.

Now, for most consumers it's going to mean a more extensive and longer list of benefits. These higher benefits of course mean higher costs.

“So people can't just get the insurance that they and their family want, the insurance that's right for them as a family, and the insurance that they can afford.  No, they have to buy Obama Administration-approved health insurance. That’s insurance that’s going to be much more expensive than what they might want, they might need, or what they can afford.

“So, despite what the President has promised to the American people, they're not going to be able to keep the insurance that they have. The options that are left to them are going to cost more.

“Now, Mr. President, these are just a few of the headlines. A few of the headlines that we've seen just since we went out a couple of weeks ago and travel the states.

“These are all fresh, new headlines in the last two weeks. But every day we get more and more information about the bad side effects of this terrible health care law.

“The President’s health care law is unraveling before our eyes. The American people knew what they wanted from health care reform. They wanted the care they need, from a doctor that they choose, at lower cost.

“That's what the President promised the American people would get from his health care law. But all the people of the country have seen are rising costs, less choice, and a larger Washington Bureaucracy.

“It's time for President Obama to finally admit that his health care law is dragging down the American economy. It is time for Congress to repeal this terrible law and replace it with the kind of reform that works.”