Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s speech.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) spoke about how Americans are concerned by the massive amounts of taxpayer dollars that continue to be wasted during the implementation of the President’s health care law. Barrasso specifically discusses how hundreds of thousands of people are receiving larger Obamacare subsidies than they deserve and how some Obamacare call centers are paying employees to do nothing.
Excerpts of his remarks
“This week, President Obama told a group of campaign donors that people who still talk about his health care law, as he said, ‘Are not speaking to the real concerns’ he said, ‘that people have.’
“The President still does not seem to understand that Americans do have real concerns about his health care law. And these aren't partisan concerns, they're practical concerns.
“And the reason Americans are worried is because the law directly impacts their personal lives, their personal health, their personal pocketbooks.
“That's why I've come to the floor week after week to talk about some of the alarming side effects of the President's health care law. And there are many alarming side effects related to the law that people are seeing in dealing with in their everyday life.
“I've talked about how this law has increased premiums, how it's cut paychecks for many families, how week after week more people are realizing that they're suffering as a result of the law. Not helped by the law, but suffering as victims of the President's law.
“So today, I want to talk about another costly side effect of the law, the massive amount of taxpayer dollars that continue to be waste under the law. For example KMOV television station in St. Louis recently reported about a call center in Missouri that processes paper applications for insurance in the state exchanges.
“Remember the applications were supposed to be handled on a website, so they shouldn't really need a call center handling their many paper applications. It doesn't seem to matter. The company got a contract for $1.2 billion.
“According to the report, there are about 1,800 employees. What are these people doing who are taking all of this money? Turns out a lot of them aren't doing very much.
“These are taxpayer dollars, hard earned taxpayer dollars and they're not doing very much. One employee said, ‘There are some weeks that a data entry person would not process a single application. ‘They are just sitting there looking at their computers,’ the report says some of them are playing Pictionary, playing 20 Questions, collecting paychecks—funded by the taxpayers.
“Another former employee told the Associated Press, ‘It was like stealing money from people.’
“And it's not just happening there in Missouri. Another TV station, KOLR, found a call center run by the same company, this one working in Arkansas. And the TV station reports the same exact thing happening in Arkansas that's happening in Missouri.
“One employee told the station that he's been there six months and over six months getting paid, full-time work, has processed a total of 40 applications.
“To make matters worse, we've learned of another clear way that Washington is wasting taxpayer dollars while implementing the law.
“Over the weekend, ‘The Washington Post’ reported that the federal health care subsidies may be too high or too low for one million people. Health payouts may be wrong. Subsidies too high or too low for one million. Government flags errors, but can't fix them yet.
“Incredible incompetence on the part of this administration. Mismanagement like people have never seen before in this country.
“As the ‘Post’ reported, the problem means that potentially hundreds of thousands of people are receiving bigger subsidies than they deserve. These are the subsidies some people get to help pay for the insurance in the government exchanges.
“Turns out that the computer system that Washington built to make sure it gave the right subsidies, well, guess what? It doesn't work.
“Now, when the Healthcare.gov website crashed last fall, the Obama Administration scrambled to patch it together, duct tape it, put it all together, but according to the article behind the scenes, important aspects of the website remain defective or simply unfinished.
“So the article goes on: ‘The government may be paying incorrect subsidies to more than one million Americans for their health plans in the new federal insurance marketplace, and has been unable so far to fix the errors.’ This is according to internal documents and three people familiar with the situation.
“The problem means potentially hundreds of thousands of people are receiving bigger subsidies than they deserve. So the government can't fix it. Website can't be fixed. What do they do?
“These people are sending in information, and according to this article, piles of unprocessed proof documents are sitting in a federal contractor's Kentucky office, and the government continues to pay insurance subsidies maybe too generous.
“The inability to make certain the government is paying correct subsidies is a legacy of computer troubles that crippled last fall's launch of the Obama health care law.
“So again, we see more waste of taxpayer dollars, more reasons for Americans to have very real concerns about the law.
“The President of the United States just this past week told donors, not speaking to the real concerns that people have.
“The President of the United States is wrong. The American people have real concerns about these components of the health care law.
“Now, President Obama said to the Democrats in this very body, he said Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud of the health care law. I want to see one of the Democrats stand up and defend what I've just talked about and be proud of what I just talked about. The President says you should. Where are you right now? Not one of them, Mr. President, is here to make that defense or to stand proud about this law.
“You know, it's hard to imagine that my colleagues can possibly be proud of this law that pays people to do nothing all day long. Can they possibly be proud of a law that awards large subsidies for people who don't qualify for them?
“Are the Democrats who voted for this health care law ready to forcefully defend all the taxpayer dollars that continue to be wasted every day? There is no end in sight. There is no effort to stop this.
“After all, how does that provide a fair shot for everyone? Isn't that what the promises of the President are? He said I want a fair shot for everyone.
“How does that actually help all this wasted money? How does that help anybody get better health care?
“Millions and millions wasted, paying people to sit around and play computer games. Millions more on websites designed in states that have been basically looked and called, broken, dysfunctional, crippled. You name it, not working.
“The FBI is investigating some. How does that give anybody better health care, all this wasted taxpayer dollars?
“The people know what they wanted with health care reform. They wanted better access to quality, affordable care.
“They want access, they want affordable care, they want choices of which they've been denied under this President's health care law, and they want quality. That's the kind of fair shot they wanted, but it's not what they got from the President's health care law.
“Now, Republicans have offered a patient-centered approach, an approach that would solve the biggest problems families face: Access to care, cost of care, quality of care, and choice. That means things like allowing small businesses to get together, pool together in order to buy insurance more cheaply for their employees. That gives small businesses and the employees working there a fair shot.
“It means letting people shop for health insurance that actually works for them and their families, not what President Obama says is best for them.
“If I had to say who has the best chance of knowing what works best for a family, I’d say it's more likely the members of the family than it is President Obama and the Democrats who passed this law.
“People deserve a fair shot at buying a plan that's best for them, best for their families. These are just a couple of the solutions that Republicans have offered to give Americans real health care reform and a real fair shot.
“Health care reform that gives patients the care they need, from a doctor they choose, at lower costs without the ongoing harmful, expensive side effects that we're seeing every day by the President's health care law.”