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November 20, 2014

Barrasso: Obamacare’s Increased Costs and Decreased Access to Care Continues to Harm Americans

“Premiums are going up, out of pocket costs are going up, hospitals are closing, doctors are having to turn away patients – all because of the President’s health care law.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) spoke about how millions of Americans are learning that their health care coverage under Obamacare will substantially increase for 2015 while access to care continues to decrease across the country.

Excerpts of his remarks:

“This past Saturday, the open enrollment period for the Obamacare healthcare law opened in terms of the health exchanges.

“People who bought health insurance through, or through their state’s exchange, they’re finally allowed to see how much their insurance is going to cost next year.

“You know, things were pushed back beyond the election so people wouldn’t be able to find out before the election what it was going to cost.

“So the Obama Administration had all this information for a while but they intentionally kept it secret until after Election Day.

“Well, now people get to see the prices, and many people across the country are absolutely in shock with the increased costs of the healthcare law.

“Millions of Americans are learning that their health insurance is going to cost them a lot more.

“And, as a matter of fact, when the exchanges opened November 15, front-page New York Times: ‘Cost of Coverage Under Care Act Set To Increase.’

“If you read the article, it shows that: ‘The Obama administration on Friday unveiled data showing that many Americans with health insurance bought under the Affordable Care Act could face substantial price increases next year — in some cases as much as 20 percent.’

“Substantial price increases. Twenty percent.

“Now, for some people, it’s going to be even higher than that.

“The Wall Street Journal took a look at it, and they had a large story with a picture on Friday and the headline is: ‘Consumers Still Confused Ahead of Health Care Sign-Ups.’

“The article talks about a man named Bob Sorey, who’s a real estate sales person in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.

“He had a plan through Blue Cross Blue Shield, and he says that his premiums are going up nearly 25 percent next year.

“Told the newspaper, he said, ‘I just can’t absorb this.’

“President Obama promised the American people that they would save $2,500 per year, per family, under his health care law.

“Nancy Pelosi, the former Speaker of the House, went on Meet the Press at one point and said that everyone’s rates would go down.

“Everyone, she said.

“What does the President have to say now?

“What will he tell those people whose rates have continued to go up?

“What does he say to this real estate broker in Tennessee who can’t absorb a 25 percent increase?

“It’s not just Tennessee, in Anchorage, Alaska, a typical plan is going to cost 28 percent more next year.

“Now that’s for the second-cheapest silver plan – what they call the ‘benchmark’ plan.

“In Minneapolis, rates are going up almost 19 percent.

“And that’s just for the premiums.

“For many people, their co-pays are going up, their deductibles are going up as well.

“In some parts of Georgia, 70 percent of the plans sold on the exchange have deductibles of at least $2,500.

“Now how is that affordable for people?

“Millions of Americans, paying more in premiums, as well as more out of their pocket.

“Millions of people like Bob Sorey, the real estate broker in Tennessee, who, as he says ‘just can’t absorb’ the cost.

“These skyrocketing premiums may explain why the President’s health care law is more unpopular, right now, than ever before.

“According to the latest Gallup poll, only 37 percent of Americans approve of the law.

“It was supposed to get more popular – that’s what Democrats on this floor told the people across the country and told us.

“Instead, the opposite has happened.

“People see how much their costs have increased because of the law – and many people are learning that having coverage under the law is not the same as having care.

“There is a difference between coverage and care.

“That’s what ‘USA Today’ found out.

“They had a front-page article last Friday with the headline, ‘Rural hospitals in critical condition.’

“So not just the cost of coverage under the care act set to increase, but rural hospitals are in critical condition.

“Obamacare critics say loss speeding up demise of facilities, of rural hospitals.

“That’s the problem. The article talks about a small hospital in Georgia that had to close this spring, the spring of last year, because of all the new burdens of the health care law.

“People in that town now have to travel many miles to get to another hospital in another town.

“One of those people was Bill Jones.

“He was a peanut and cotton farmer who lived about nine miles away from the old hospital.

“According to the article, Bill suffered a heart attack about a month after the hospital had to close.

“An ambulance had to take him to another hospital in a town further away.

“I can tell you as a doctor who practiced medicine for 25 years, when someone has a heart attack, every minute counts.

“Well, Bill Jones didn't survive his heart attack.

“Maybe he wouldn't have survived a trip to a closer hospital. We won't know that. But the hospital is gone now, and it's gone because of the President’s health care law.

“For people living in rural states like Georgia and my own state of Wyoming, this is a terrifying prospect.

“Now, the article says that since January of 2010, more than 40 rural hospitals have closed across the country.

“Now, there's a map of the country, of all the places where hospitals have closed.

“Now, Ezekiel Emanuel, who worked on the health care law, says that 40 hospitals, that's not enough.

“He's one of the architects, of course, of the President’s health care law and he says that over the next six years, more than a thousand hospitals will close.

“More than a thousand.

“In more than a thousand American communities, people will be further away from medical care.

“Now, that's precious lost time for people who have heart attacks or for women with high-risk pregnancies who are further from the help that they need to deliver a healthy baby.

“They may have coverage under the President’s health care law but that's not the same as getting the care they need.

“And we're also seeing this for people who the law has pushed into Medicaid, because Medicaid, of course, which the President’s goal was to push more and more people into Medicaid, that pays less for services than traditional insurance companies pay.

“A lot of doctors and other providers can't afford to take new Medicaid patients. And there was a front-page story in the ‘Wall Street journal’ last Friday that says, ‘As more join Medicaid, health systems feel strain.’

“As more join Medicaid -- the President’s goal -- health systems feel the strain. 
The article says that about a third of all primary care physicians aren't taking new Medicaid patients.

“One of them is Dr. Holly Abernathy. She's a family physician in Farmington, New Mexico, and she says that she just can't afford to take any new patients under the program.

“She says ‘I would love to see every Medicaid patient that comes through my door.’

“She says, ‘If you give people coverage, they should be able to utilize it.’

“Premiums are going up, out-of-pocket costs are going up, hospitals are closing, doctors are having to turn away patients -- all because of the President’s health care law.

“Obamacare was too long, too complicated, too expensive and it took away too much from the people who liked the care and the coverage they had before the law was passed.

“That's why Republicans are going to vote to repeal the entire health care law.

“Meanwhile, we will also vote to strip away the worst and most destructive parts of the law.

“Things like the employer mandate, the arbitrary 30-hour workweek. That has been devastating to part-time workers across the country.

“Things like the unfair medical device tax that sends American jobs overseas and that threatens life-saving innovation.

“Republicans are going to keep fighting for Americans who have been harmed by the President’s health care law.

“We're going to keep offering the real solutions that people wanted all along -- access to the care they need, from a doctor they choose, at lower cost.

“That's what the American people are demanding and that's what they deserve, and it's what republicans are going to give them.”