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March 21, 2017

Barrasso: We Must Repair Damage Caused by Obamacare

“America needs health care reform. It’s time for everyone to admit that, and to take this opportunity to start repairing the damage and start creating real reform.”

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding efforts to repair the damage caused by Obamacare.

Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“It was seven years ago that Democrats in Congress passed Obamacare. They promised lower health care costs.

“All that they delivered was a Washington mandate for expensive insurance – and for many people they found that it wasn’t insurance they could use, even though they were forced to buy it.

“For seven years, Americans have suffered under the consequences of that decision by this body, and the former president.

“Less than seven weeks into the Trump administration, Republicans introduced a plan to give Americans real health care reform.

“The American people know that Obamacare has been a disaster. It’s been one broken promise after another.

“I hear about this every weekend I’m home in Wyoming—I heard about it this past weekend.

“There’s now only one insurance company that’s willing to offer Obamacare coverage in my entire state. There are 1,000 counties all across the country in the same situation – only one option. It’s not a marketplace, it’s a monopoly.

“I can tell you as a doctor who practiced medicine for 25 years, when it comes to health care, the last thing patients want to hear is that they don’t have a choice. It’s this or nothing.

On the American Health Care Act

“That’s why Republicans promised that we were going to repeal the restrictions of Obamacare that limit people’s choices.

“We have promised to give the American people options, not mandates.

“The health care bill that we’re debating now is the first step to keeping that promise.

“The bill starts to give people more choices – so that they can pick what’s right for them and for their families.

“I want to talk about the three ways it does this.

“First, the bill removes the mandates. It ends both the individual mandate and the employer mandate. That’s a key.

“It eliminates the penalty that hard-working families had to pay if they decide that the overpriced Obamacare insurance isn’t right for them.

“This was one of the most outrageous and unfair parts of the health care law. These mandates will be gone.

“Second, the bill that the House is considering, it cut taxes. It gets rid of things like the Obamacare tax on prescription drugs.

“It gets rid of the Obamacare tax on health insurance.

“It gets rid of the Obamacare tax on medical devices like pacemakers, artificial joints. Altogether, this bill repeals about fifteen Obamacare taxes.

“Since these taxes get passed along to consumers – repealing them helps to bring down the cost of care.

“The third thing that this repeal bill does is to create options for people and for states. It encourages people to find creative ways to help make health care costs more affordable for them.

“It does things like expanding how people can use health savings accounts, which is a great option for many people.

“It helps states do innovative things like high risk pools, to bring down the costs for everybody. It gives states more flexibility when it comes to their Medicaid programs.

Medicaid is Broken

“Let’s face it, Medicaid is broken – and Obamacare just threw more people onto this second-class health insurance.

“Just last week we got evidence of how badly Medicaid is harming patients. The chief executive of the Mayo Clinic said in a speech that his hospital is going to give preference to patients with private insurance over patients on Medicaid.

“Supporters of Obamacare say that their biggest success is the number of people who got coverage by being put into Medicaid.

“Well it’s clear that many of these people are being harmed by being in Medicaid—a system that has been broken for decades. It’s alarming I believe, and it is appalling.

“We’ve got to fundamentally reform the Medicaid program. To do that, we’ve got to give states more options for coming up with reforms that work for them and the people who live in their states.

“Every state is different – and a one-size-fits-all mandate from Washington will never work for all of the states all across the country. Democrats tried it – it failed dramatically. Obamacare is collapsing all around us. We’ve got to do something, and we’ve got to start now.

“The next couple of months insurance companies will start making decisions about what they’re going to do for next year, for 2018. They’ll be figuring out how much they have to charge – and whether they want to be involved in the Obamacare exchange at all.

“People have been losing their coverage and losing choices ever since Democrats wrote the health care law. And the president signed it seven years ago.

“I believe it’s going to get worse every day that we delay.

“Now, there are Democrats who don’t really seem to care much about any of that. They’d rather set the whole health care system on a path to fall apart completely before they’ll ever admit that they were wrong.

“Hard-working Americans, families across the country, don’t have that luxury.

“There are still more than 25 million Americans without insurance, even seven years after Obamacare has been in place. Every year, people have gotten letters in the mail telling them that their plans have been cancelled.

“Democrats want to pretend that everything is fine. Well it’s absolutely not true.

Trump Admin Taking Steps to Give Americans Obamacare Relief

“That’s why it’s so important that President Trump jumped in right away and took important steps to help stabilize the marketplace.

“The Department of Health and Human Services has taken steps to preserve certain insurance plans that Obamacare tried to eliminate.

“These are plans that people had and they liked, and the law tried to say they could no longer exist. The Trump administration has said that people can continue on those plans.

“The administration also tightened up some of the rules, like making sure people actually pay their premiums for this year’s insurance, before they’re allowed to sign up for next year.

“The administration is taking common-sense steps to make it harder for people to game the system, which will lower the cost for everyone else. These are important steps.

“The administration is going to be doing a lot more to protect families and to create more options.

“This repeal bill isn’t perfect. Nobody says it is. Still, it’s a monumental shift away from Obamacare.

“I do hope that Democrats will join us, and offer their own ideas for what these additional reforms can look like.

“I hope they’ll realize that families are better off when they have more choices, not fewer.

“We’re better off when people can decide really what’s best for them and their families, not when government tells them what they have to do.

“We’re better off when health care decisions are left to patients and doctors, not to Washington bureaucrats and insurance companies.

“We’re better off when people have freedom and options, not mandates and penalties.

“America needs health care reform. It’s time for everyone to admit that, and to take this opportunity to start repairing the damage and start creating real reform.

“As Ronald Reagan said, it’s better to get 80 percent of what you want rather than go over the cliff with a flag flying.

“The American people are asking for our help, and we cannot turn our backs on them now.”