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Barrasso Delivers New Details on Obamacare Premiums

Some Americans Now Penalized Based on What Side of the Street They Live On

May 7, 2014

Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) spoke about how Americans are finding out that under the President’s health care law, they could be forced to pay much higher health premiums than their neighbors for the same kind of plan.

Excerpts of his remarks

“I come to the floor today to talk once more about the negative side effects of the President’s health care law.

“Now, President Obama has been spiking the football over the number of people who he says have actually signed up for insurance through his exchanges.

“He also said that Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud of the health care law.

“Now, he’s had nothing to say to the Americans who are seeing their premiums increase.

“This Washington-mandated insurance is loaded up with so many specific mandates, that unless you get a massive taxpayer subsidy, it’s just not affordable for many, many families across this country.

“For some people, the insurance gets even more expensive — even less affordable — depending specifically on where you live.

“Insurance companies used to base your premiums on a lot of different factors — like how likely you were to use insurance, and different things specific to how you would use medical services.

“Well, the Obama health care law took away some of that and replaced it with what they call a community rating.

“Now there are only a few factors that can be used to set people’s premiums—and where you actually live is one of those things.

“So your premiums used to be based on you, but now they’re based on your neighbors — and how likely your neighbors are to use their own health insurance.

“What we’re seeing is all across the country — people are paying more specifically because of where they live.

“The ‘Associated Press’ ran a story on this last month. The headline was ‘Rural residents confront higher health care costs.’

“The ‘Associated Press’ quoted a rancher in Colorado whose premiums had jumped 50 percent — to about $1,800 a month.

“This rancher said: ‘We’ve gone from letting the insurance companies use a pre-existing medical condition to jack up rates, to having a pre-existing ZIP code being the reason health insurance is unaffordable.’

“As this rancher said, ‘It’s just wrong.’

“Well, I agree — so I looked into this, and here’s what I found.

“Some of the lines are drawn so that people just down the road — or even people on different sides of the street — can pay wildly different premiums.

“Now these are people of exactly the same age, and these are people who are buying from the lowest cost silver plan.

“Now, the president likes to talk about income inequality, but the president has created a new kind of insurance inequality.

“It’s not just rural areas like where that rancher lives in Colorado.

“In Louisiana, in one community, the premium for the lowest-cost silver plan in the Obamacare exchange, for a 40 year-old person, who doesn’t get a subsidy, would be $255 a month.

“But if you live right across the street, the premium for that same person, same age, same lowest-cost silver plan, would be $311 a month. 22 percent higher — $56 more a month — just because you live on one side of the street instead of the other side of the street under the president’s health care law. That’s $672 a year.

“So that’s Louisiana. Now, let’s take a look at North Carolina—same situation.

“If you live on that side of this line, $263 a month—just down the road, the other side of the line, $319 a month. Again, $56 more a month, $672 more a year, same individual, all they’d have to do is move from that side to this side and they would either save or pay that much more.

“21 percent more expensive one side than the other. Is that fair?

“The Democrats talk about fairness all the time. Democrat Senators have come to the floor to talk about giving everybody a ‘fair shot.’

“Well, do those Democrats who passed this health care law, who voted for the law, think that in that county in North Carolina, that they’re getting a fair shot depending on which side of the line they live? Did the senator from Louisiana believe that they get a fair shot on either side of the line? 

“Does President Obama think these people in North Carolina or Louisiana are getting a fair shot?

“So, why did the Democrats in Washington create a law that penalizes people based on which side of the street they live?

“Here’s another example, Arkansas.

“Here we have an area, one side of the line or the other. Over here $263 per month, over here $294 a month. $31 a month more expensive.

“Are those people in Arkansas getting a fair shot from the president’s health care law?

“For too many people — in places like Colorado, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Arkansas — the costs of the president’s health care law are unfair and too high.

“Sure there are some people who are being helped, but there are a lot of people who are being hurt by the president’s health care law — people who are feeling the negative side effects of the law.

“Why don’t Democrats admit this? Why don’t they admit that the health care law is not giving people a fair shot?

“Why aren’t the Democrats in the Senate who passed this law coming to the floor to defend the fact that for millions of people in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Colorado and all across America, the premiums are too high.

“The health care law is too expensive for families — and it’s also too expensive for a lot of employers.

“There was an article in the ‘Denver Post’ last week titled ‘Health law presents options, challenges for Colorado small businesses.’

“The article tells the story of a small business in Denver that sells cardboard boxes.

“According to the article, the owner of this business has offered insurance to his workers for three decades.

“To get a policy that meets the new mandates of the president’s health care law but was going to cost 50 percent more than they had been paying in the past.

“The article says, ‘About half of small businesses in Colorado are seeing double-digit premium increases’ because of the law.

“Double digit premium increases are not what Democrats promised from their health care law, and it’s not what the American people wanted.

“People wanted something very simple from health care reform. They wanted better access to quality, affordable care.

“Instead, Democrats gave Americans higher costs, and unequal treatment.

“That’s not a fair shot —it’s not what the American people wanted, what they needed. And it isn’t working.

“Now, Americans don’t need a law that Democrats voted for without ever reading it. And it’s a law that raises their premiums.

“Republicans have offered a patient-centered approach that would solve the biggest problems facing families – cost of care, access to care, and ownership of their policy.

“That means allowing small businesses to pool resources in order to buy health insurance for their employees.

“It means letting people shop for health insurance in other states and buy what’s actually best for them and their families.

“It means reforming our medical liability system — to give patients fair compensation for tragic mistakes, while ending junk lawsuits that drive up health care costs for everyone.

“It means adequately funding state high-risk pools that help very sick people get insurance, without raising costs for healthier individuals.

“These are just a few solutions Republicans have offered— just a few of the things that we’ll do to give Americans real health care reform, and a real fair shot.

“Heath care reform that gives people the care they need, from a doctor they choose, at lower cost — without all the negative side effects.”