June 4, 2014 -
Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s speech.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) spoke about the release of new health care numbers that confirm many Americans will face significant increases in the cost of their health premiums because of President Obama’s health care law.
Excerpts of his remarks
“I come to the floor as the Senate begins debating the nomination of Sylvia Burwell to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. If she is confirmed for that job, she’d be responsible for implementing thousands of pages of regulations related to the president's health care law.
“I think it’s appropriate as we consider this nomination to take a little bit of time to talk about the state of the president's health care law.
“I visited with a number of people from Wyoming just this morning, people here from Uinta County. I will tell you what they know and what we all know, are that there are many dangerous side effects of the law like people losing access to their doctor, people getting smaller paychecks.
“Today, I want to talk specifically about the expensive side effects that so many Americans are facing, and that’s how much health insurance premiums are rising because of the law.
“States are starting to release the proposed premium insurance companies expect to charge next year under the Obama health care law. And the numbers are not good for the American people, for people who wanted affordable care, quality care, access to care, the kind of things that the President of the United States looked into the camera and promised them.
“Now, Virginia was one of the first states to put out the numbers. What's happening in the state of Virginia? Every health plan sold in the state exchange expects to raise its rates next year. The state expects some people to pay as much as 17% more next year.
“In Vermont, it's a similar story. There are two companies offering plans in the state exchange. Yesterday, we learned that one intends to raise rates 10%. The other 15% next year.
“Last Friday, Ohio released its proposed rates for people buying insurance through the exchange. The average premium in the state's individual market is expected to be 13% higher next year than it was last year.
“You know, according to state insurance regulators, its bad news, they say, but it's what they expected.
“The State Lieutenant Governor said ‘continued and unnecessary headwinds out of Washington are making it more difficult for job creators, for hardworking Ohioans and their families to purchase health insurance.’
“President Obama said the Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud of the health care law. Is there a Democrat in this body, even one, who is willing to come to the floor and forcefully defend premium increases of 13%, 15%, 17% in one year alone?
“Now, more states are going to be releasing their new premiums all summer. More people around the country are going to see these kinds of rate increases.
“This is an alarming side effect of the president's health care law. Now that's on top of the rate increases people have already had to pay for insurance for this year.
“It is astonishing when you look at the numbers. It's not just families buying health insurance through the exchanges who are getting slammed.
"USA Today’ ran a headline last week that said many employees hit with higher health care premiums. The article says ‘More employees are getting hit with higher health insurance premiums and higher co-pays and many don't have the money to cover unexpected medical expenses.’ This is what a new report finds.
“The report found that 56% of companies increased their employees' share of health care premiums, or their co-payments for doctors' visits last year after the health care law came into effect. And 59% of companies intend to do the same thing this year.
“So people buying insurance in the exchange are being hurt. People who get insurance through work are being hurt. Small businesses are being hurt as well.
“There was an article in ‘The Alaska Dispatch’ about this last Thursday. Now, it says Alaska's small businesses feel the pinch of rising health care costs.
“The article tells the story of a restaurant owner with 24 employees. He wants to offer coverage, health insurance coverage. But he's paying $5,000 a month more than he paid last year for his share of the insurance.
“He's somebody that wants to provide insurance. $5,000 more a month for his 24 employees. He says the costs are crippling and that it's like meeting another payroll every month. This small business owner says this, about the health care law, he says ‘it's killing me.’ He says, ‘I just don't know how long we can keep absorbing these costs.’
“These are costs put on this business owner in Alaska by every member of the United States Senate who voted for this health care law. Every one of them.
“I'd invite any one of them to come down here to forcefully defend this law as the president requests that they do and be proud of what they've done to this small business owner.
“Are Democrats in this Senate who voted for this health care law proud of what the law is going to this small business owner in Alaska? Are they willing to forcibly defend his having to pay an extra $5,000 a month?
“That's what people are dealing with. And there's a story just out today about North Carolina, another state where a senator has said, if you like what you have, you can keep it. A North Carolina woman, according to this story, the headline is, ‘Obamacare cripples North Carolina small business.’
“A North Carolina woman currently living her dream to own a salon could soon shatter and crumble, leaving her employees to pay astronomical costs for health insurance, all because of Obamacare.
“Julia Vittorio, owner of Fresh Salon for the past five years, is worried she will not be able to provide her employees with health insurance.’ She said, 'I think you just want the best for your employees'. I think that's what many people around the country want, the best for their employees. She says, 'we're a small business, and it's very much like a family, so I care about our staff.’
“She previously offered her employees health insurance, paid part of it but has been forced to reconsider her decision because of rising costs of premiums. ‘We've been very proud,’ she said, ‘to even carry it for this long, but it certainly is a concern moving into the future if we're going to be able to keep doing it,’ she explained.
“Veronica Cook, a hairdresser, who has worked at this Fresh Salon since it opened, she said, ‘It's frustrating and scary and you don't know what to expect.’ I think that applies to so many people as a result of the president's health care law.
“It's frustrating, and scary, and you don't know what to expect. She is not sure what she will do if she has to pay for her own insurance.
“That's what this devastating side effect of the president's health care law is doing to people all around the country.
“Now, the president, he says he wants everyone to have a fair shot. Democrats say it over and over again. Is this small business owner getting a fair shot? Are the families of Ohio getting a fair shot when their premiums go up as much as 13% next year?
“Some Democrats who voted for the health care law have come out and said that the rates may be going up, they say, but not as fast as maybe they would have been without the law. But let's take a step back. When they were trying to pass this health care law, Democrats said it would only raise premiums—no, Democrats never said it would only raise premiums by 10% to 13%.
“No, they said it would drop premiums by $2,500 a year. That's what the president said, $2,500 per family per year, and he said by the end of his first term.
“Well, you know, we met with the president in February of 2010 at the White House at the round table discussion. Senator Lamar Alexander, my colleague from Tennessee, asked specifically about these predictions that the premiums that we had seen, that they would go up and the president is making these promises, claims that they would go down.
“The president denied, again to each of us in a face to face meeting that they would go up. The president said, ‘that's not just the case.’
“Well now what we do know it is the case, and it was the case all along. People believed the president when he promised he would save them money. They thought that Democrats were giving them this fair shot that the president talks about.
“Now they're finding out what they got: higher premiums, higher costs, higher deductibles, higher co-pays, loss of coverage, can't keep your doctor.
“It's hard to believe the president of the United States. This isn't what people wanted. People wanted a fair shot, but it's not what the president and Democrats in Congress actually gave them in the health care law.
“Many of them who voted for it never read it. Nancy Pelosi said, ‘first you have to pass it before you get to find out what's in it.’ But it didn't stop the Democrats who voted for it from making those same promises, promises if you like what you have you can keep it, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, premiums will go down.
“All of those promises, each one of them, turned out to be not true.
“Now, a fair shot is exactly what Republicans have offered. And that is—and I can tell this as a doctor, what patients want—they want patient centered care, not government-controlled and mandated care. A patient centered approach that would solve the biggest problem that families face—access to care, cost of care, quality care.
“That means things like allowing small businesses to pool together in order to buy insurance more cheaply for their employees. It means letting people shop for health insurance that actually works for them, works for their families, not what the president says is best for them.
“So in closing, let me just say, there are just a couple solutions that Republicans have offered to give Americans the care they need from a doctor they need at a lower cost without the outrageous, expensive side effects of the president's health care law.”