October 29, 2019
“The Obama health care law was a train wreck. Republicans opposed it all the way. But still we're treating the victims of this wreck, and we want to help them for years in the future by changing and coming out with guidance that is going to make it easier and give flexibility to states.”
Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke on the Senate floor about how Senate Democrats have introduced a Congressional Review Act resolution to overturn President Trump’s guidance giving states more flexibility to offer affordable health insurance options.
Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“I come to the floor today to once again discuss health care in America and specifically to oppose this Senate Joint Resolution 52, which is the latest congressional disapproval resolution.
“What's happening here is that the Democrats are trying to block the efforts that Republicans are making to actually lower the cost of health insurance.
“We're working on ways to lower the cost of health insurance for American families and the Democrats are trying to block it.
“Let me explain because people certainly understand how after the Obama health care law was passed, health care premiums, insurance premiums all across the country went way up.
“So I strongly oppose the passage of this resolution, and I strongly oppose the passage of this law which we now hear from so many of the Democrats who are running for president. They are willing to admit that the law itself has failed.
“You know, it's interesting the Democrats now say scrap the whole thing and go with the one-size-fits-all government-run health care program where people will pay more to wait longer for worse care.
“Ironically, it's the Republicans who today are delivering on so many of the Democrats' empty promises about Obamacare, because Republicans are actually doing things to lower the costs of care and the costs of health insurance for American families.
“I like to think of it as Republicans are the E. M. T. 's arriving on the scene of the Obamacare train wreck. We didn't cause the accident. We're trying to help the victims and victims live in states all across this country.
“For nearly three years now, Republicans have tried to treat the victims of Obamacare and tried to help people that have been hit with skyrocketing insurance premiums.
“Well, last week, we saw a major breakthrough. For the second year in a row, on average, we saw insurance premiums on the Obamacare exchanges actually come down. They have actually come down.
“Well, it's very welcome news for people that have to pay these premiums. Yet what we see is that the 2020 Democrat candidates, when you listen to them, they don't seem to be really concerned about lowering the costs.
“They're too busy pushing this astronomically expensive, $34 trillion dollar, Medicare for All health insurance health care scheme, one that by Republicans and Democrats alike have been called by many a pipe dream.
“Now to put the cost into perspective, this total dollar figure, that has been estimated by people on the Republican side of the aisle, the Democrat side of the aisle, folks who looked at what promises are being made, all have come to the conclusion that the cost would be greater than what we spend right now in this country on Medicare and on Medicaid and on Social Security combined.
“Add it all up and that has not even reached the point of what the Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren Medicare for All would cost.
“And it's interesting when you take a look at the proposal, they want to actually take away from the American people, from the 180 million people who have earned health insurance and get it through work. They want to take that health insurance away from 180 million Americans and put them all on a one-size-fits-all government-run program.
“Even union workers, who as part of their contract negotiations negotiate the health insurance they want, they would lose the hard-fought health care benefits if this plan of the Democrats ever were to become law.
“So now what we see the Democrats doing, they are backing what I believe is a very foolish resolution of disapproval, and I'll get to the reason why in a second.
“They are attacking part of President Obama's health care law. We're talking about Obamacare Section 1332. This section of the law helps give states more flexibility. Our states like to have flexibility, flexibility to provide better coverage, flexibility to bring premium costs down.
“We need to set the record straight on one key point. Section 1332 never can be used to waive protections for the American people, for people with preexisting conditions. Never waive those, not happening, never.
“My wife is a breast cancer survivor, three operations, chemotherapy twice, dozens of radiation treatments. I know how important it is for patients, I know this as a doctor and a husband, for patients to have protections of their preexisting conditions.
Republicans remain 100 percent committed to protecting people with preexisting conditions.
“We will protect them today. We will protect them tomorrow. We will protect them always.
“You know, it's interesting, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for some clarifications regarding this Section 1332, and here's how the Administrator Seema Verma responded.
“She said, ‘To be very clear, the 2018 guidance does nothing to erode the health care law's preexisting condition provisions’. She said it cannot be waived under Section 1332. Because the letter proves that all patients will continue to be protected.
“Section 1332 simply gives states some leeway, a little wiggle room in following the law and how to use and apply the law best in their home states.
“So all state waivers must meet the following conditions: They must provide coverage at least as broad as is currently offered under the health care law. They must provide coverage and cost-sharing at least as affordable as under the health care law. They must provide coverage to at least as many people as under the health care law. And they must not increase the federal deficit.
“So again, all the 1332 waivers leave protections for preexisting conditions unharmed.
“And they are not just popular with Republican governors. It's interesting, these 1332 waivers, the people who are applying for these are Democrat governors from around the country.
“They are at odds with what the Democrats in the Senate are trying to do. They're pursuing waivers. They are asking the Trump administration for waivers for their states as well.
“And why would these Democrat governors come to the Trump administration and ask for waivers? It's because they work. That's the reason the Democrat governors are coming to the Trump administration, because they work.
“In fact, a number of states are using these waivers right now today to help lower the cost of health insurance.
“So let's look at the states whose section 1332 waivers have been approved since the Trump administration guidance was issued. Just those states where they had this, they have applied for waivers since the new Trump administration guidance was issued.
“Again, these waivers were approved using the very same guidance that the Democrats in the Senate now want to have repealed.
“It is astonishing. So the states with 1332 waivers since the Trump administration came out with its guidance are Colorado, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, and Rhode Island. Now, nearly all have Democrat governors, four out of the five do, and they have Democrat senators in many of the cases, or they have both.
“But let's take a look at what's happened for the proposed premiums for the year 2020, what they are expected to do in these states which have asked for under the leadership of Democrat governors, asked for waivers from the Trump administration, have been granted waivers, and what is the impact on the insurance premiums in these states?
“Well, in Colorado with a Democrat governor, one Democrat senator, the rates are going to fall this next year by about 16%.
“Delaware, Democrat governor, two Democrat senators. The rates will fall about 13%.
“Montana, Democrat governor, one Democrat senator, one Republican senator, fall by 8%.
“Rhode Island, Democrat governor, two Democrat senators. Rates will fall by about 6%.
“So we have state after state after state after state where the Democrat governors said please grant us a waiver, apply the waiver. They are seeing the rates come down.
“Yet the senators on the floor on the other side of the aisle, the Democrats are offering a resolution to remove these waivers, to remove the guidance from the Trump administration that is resulting in rates of insurance and the costs going down.
“Of course we need to fix health care in this country, but we need to take a scalpel to our health care problems, not a meat cleaver, which is what we see the Democrats doing.
“The Obama health care law was a train wreck. Republicans opposed it all the way. But still we're treating the victims of this wreck, and we want to help them for years in the future by changing and coming out with guidance that is going to make it easier and give flexibility to states.
“So states where the governor - whether the legislature is Republican or Democrat can make use of the flexibility which they can use to help lower the high, high cost of Obamacare insurance.
“I find it outrageous that Senate Democrats are wasting precious health care debate time. They should be working with us to find solutions. Solutions to lower the cost of care, to lower the cost of prescription drugs, to provide more accountability, more transparency so patients can make more informed decisions.
“So even as we address this, and we're going to vote on this tomorrow, it's time to really take a look at what the Democrats are saying in the Senate as opposed to what the Democrats are doing who are in the statehouses across the country.
“I say let's make sure the states can keep the relief that they're asking for and they're getting by rejecting what the Democrats in the Senate are proposing.
“Let's keep working to give patients what they need, which is the care that they need from a doctor that they choose at lower costs.”