WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke on the Senate floor about how, under the Democrats’ one-size-fits-all health care proposal, providers, hospitals and patients in rural America will be hurt the most.
Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“I come to the floor again today to discuss Washington Democrats’ one-size-fits-all health care scheme.
“Every American needs to know about this very radical plan.
“Democrats essentially want Washington D.C. to take over all of health care in this country and to abolish private health insurance that 180 million Americans get through their jobs.
“Incredibly this proposal offered by Senator Bernie Sanders has the backing of many leading Democrats running for president and 109 Democrat members of the House of Representatives.
“I want to continue the debate today by focusing on the terrible impact this radical scheme will have on all of the fine men and women who provide health care to people across the country.
“Of course, the impact on them will impact the patients that they provide services and more importantly provide care for.
“I’m talking about the nation’s dedicated medical professionals, especially those who serve in our community hospitals.
“And I actually know many of these health care providers because I’m one of them.
“For many years, I practiced orthopedic surgery in Casper, Wyoming. I was a medical doctor, a physician, a chief of staff for the hospital at the Wyoming Medical Center.
“When you practice medicine in Casper, Wyoming, you really treat patients from all over the state.
“That’s because many people in Wyoming live in small towns. I’m talking about patients in towns like my wife’s hometown of Thermopolis, Wyoming, my wife’s parents are there. When they need specialty care, they come to Casper.
“For those who haven’t traveled in Wyoming, that’s about a two-hour drive on a day when the weather is good, and that’s one way. Now, my point is when you work at a Casper hospital, you’re actually covering a large area in our state and that’s often the case in many states.
“So when I hear that Washington Democrats want to have a one-size-fits-all health care plan, I wonder, have they given any thought to people in the nation’s Heartland, people out West? Are they considering people in rural communities at all?
“I’ll tell you, I think about the people of Wyoming every day – I’m there every weekend – the staff at small hospitals who serve rural communities like Thermopolis and Rawlins and Lusk and Kemmerer and the Lovell Hospital where I was at a health fair this past Saturday talking to all of the folks there. Their needs are things that I’m not convinced Washington Democrats have any knowledge or care for at all.
“The people at these hospitals work hard just to keep the doors open – so they can continue to care for patients right there.
“So alarm bells go off when I see headlines like the one from the Washington Post. It said, ‘Who’s going to take care of these people? As emergencies rise across rural America, a hospital fights for its life.’
“That’s the headline. Washington Post.
“The Post is referring to a community hospital in Osage County, Oklahoma.
“The hospital has a sign out front that reads: ‘A small community is only as healthy as its hospital.’
“That’s the truth.
“Hospitals across rural America are struggling – many are in fact fighting for their lives.
“Still Democrats are offering a plan that will destroy private health insurance in America, which is the lifeblood of our nation’s health care system.
“Democrats want to drastically reduce provider payments, which would of course drive many doctors from practice and shutter many small hospitals.
“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator has said a one-size-fits-all system would ‘decimate physician networks, creating a permanent physician shortage.’
“So how can rural hospitals survive with no financial cushion if Democrats’ one-size-fits-all health care plan passes?
“Just ask the New York Times. Last month the Times ran with this headline: ‘Hospitals Stand to Lose Billions Under Medicare for All.’
“The Times cites a study by George Mason University that found Medicare provider reimbursement rates are more than 40 percent lower than private insurance rates –
40 percent lower.
“At these payment rates, the Times says, ‘Some hospitals, especially struggling rural centers, would close virtually overnight.’ An overnight closure of hospitals under Bernie Sanders’ and the Democrats’ one-size-fits-all health care scheme for medicine in America.
“Now I’m sure a lot of people listening out there are thinking, maybe it’s all a mistake,
maybe Democrats don’t really mean to threaten hospitals.
“Well, the fact is, Democrats have long argued that hospitals need to close.
“Just look at what Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who is an architect of Obamacare, a professor in Philadelphia, what he said on the subject. He actually wrote a book outlining all of this, it’s called ‘Reinventing American Health Care’ he said that a 1,000 U.S. hospitals would close by 2020.
“Last year he published an op-ed in the New York Times ominously titled ‘Are Hospitals Becoming Obsolete?’
“Dr. Emanuel writes: ‘Hospitals are disappearing. While they may never completely go away, they will continue to shrink in number and importance. That is inevitable and good.’ Well not in rural America.
“Good,’ he says, if thousands of hospitals that patients rely on are forced to close their doors for good. I disagree fundamentally with his principle and what he is saying.
“And of course all people who practice medicine in small towns want to keep their doors open because they know the impact to the lives of the people who live in those communities.
“Just last week I had the chance to visit with Dr. Mike Tracy, a family physician in Powell, Wyoming. He’s the past president of the Wyoming Medical Society.
“He is passionate about caring for his patients. And guess what? He doesn’t participate in Medicare at all. Instead, he provides his services privately by charging his patients a set, transparent monthly fee.
“He does what he has to do to keep his practice open. His focus is on his patients – not on Washington paperwork. And you know what? His patients are very happy and his practice is successful.
“The patients are happy with the time he is able to sit and be with them, and look at them, and focus on them, instead of the mandates of a Washington computer screen.
“So you see, there are doctors like Mike all across the country who don’t want a one-size-fits-all health care system.
“Many doctors and many small community hospitals cannot afford it and they will not survive it, and certainly many rural communities can’t survive it.
“If a small community loses a hospital, it is much harder in that community to attract doctors, nurses, teachers, businesses—all of the things that are vital for a community to have.
“So the threat is very real, what the Democrats’ and Bernie Sanders’ one-size-fits-all health care plan would bring to our country.
“Let me just tell the people who are watching the debate right now. Democrats’ one-size-fits-all health care plan, what this will mean for you is, you will pay more, to wait longer, for worse care. This is what is at stake here.
“And we all need to make our voices heard loud and clear: No to Democrats’ one-size-fits-all health care scheme. Yes to real reforms that improve health care and bring down the costs for all Americans.”