Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s speech.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) spoke about how the President’s health care law is specifically hurting families and small businesses across the country—including in Wyoming, Alaska and Colorado.
Excerpts of his remarks:
“I come to the floor today because it seems day after day, there is another story or two in the paper about what's happening with the president's health care law.
“As I go home to Wyoming each week, I go through Denver and the airport there, and today the headline in ‘The Denver Post’ has to do with the Colorado health exchanges.
“The first line says Colorado's health care exchange is expecting nearly twice as many people to drop or to decline to pay for their policies. They predicted how many people would continue to make payments if they had signed up under the president's health care law, and today they are predicting that at least twice as many as they anticipated would be either dropping or failing to pay for their health care premiums.
“The ‘Wall Street Journal’ today above the fold front page, ‘Newly insured face coverage gaps.’ So you get people that may have signed up under the president's health care law, coverage gaps, not paying, dropping, truly not the deal that the president has said was something that he thought would be helpful to Americans.
“More and more people are finding out that they are having bigger problems under the president's health care law, problems with the promises that were made by this president, by this administration and by those who voted for the health care law.
“I get home just about every weekend in Wyoming to talk with people, to listen to them, hear what they have to say, but also as Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, one of my responsibilities is to also see how the policies, like the president's health care law, come out across the country, what happens in other states, how policies out of Washington affect people all across America.
“So today, I'd like to talk a little about how the health care law is impacting people, not just in my home state of Wyoming, but really all across the country.
“In addition to being in Wyoming last week, I had a chance to visit Alaska, and what I heard from people there as well as people in Wyoming is that people have been hurt by the president's health care law, they are anxious about it in terms of their own health care and they are angry about insurance that they have had, that they have lost and the implications of the president's health care law where many promises were made and now people are finding out that the president's promises in terms of their own lives, their own health and their own families haven't actually been kept.
“The president, Democrats here in the senate promised that their law was going to be great for the American people. That's the promise.
“I can tell you the people I talked to in Wyoming, people I heard from in Alaska are very worried about the terrible side effects that they are feeling, specifically as a result of this awful health care law.
“Small businesses—and small businesses are a major part of the economy in rural states—small businesses and the people who specifically work in those small businesses, they are the backbone of the economy for so many of our communities.
“So it's very troubling when I read about something in the health care law that threatens the very health of the people who work in these small businesses.
“You know, when Democrats were trying to sell their health care law, they bragged. They bragged about something called the SHOP program. That's the exchange where small businesses in a state were supposed to be able to buy insurance for their workers, be able to shop for it, be able to get something that's affordable.
“That's the promises made by Democrats who voted for this health care law. Democrats actually gave speeches on the floor about small businesses being able to find affordable insurance.
“This program was supposed to open last year, but just like the failed exchanges that the president set up, when the exchanges opened October 1, this wasn't ready to go. So what the Obama administration said is we will delay it for a year because the program wasn't ready. They left all the businesses kind of in a lurch.
“Now they say it might be ready this fall. Well, time will tell.
“Here's what ‘The Wall Street Journal’ found in an article last month, June 10. It said, they ran a headline that said ‘some small business employees to have only one health plan choice.’ Only one choice. 18 states will offer only one plan when the small business exchange actually opens.
“The Democrats promised a lot more than that, and those who voted for that promised a lot more. Those who gave speeches promised a lot more. But in 18 states, there will be only one plan when they finally get it open, 18 states where workers in small businesses will not have any choice among insurance plans and no competition and Alaska is one of them.
“Less choice, less competition and of course that means higher premiums. People all across the country are experiencing higher premiums. That's the thing that really causes so much anger and anxiety among families all across the country.
“When that letter comes and the newspaper stories are already starting to get out there as well as television, radio, reading about it on the internet, the question is how much higher. The president promised $2,500 lower premiums.
“Nobody believes that. Nobody in America believes the President of the United States and the promise he made. It's a sad situation when the president is not believed by anyone. Yet that's what we have. He made a promise $2,500 per family lower. People all know that prices are going higher. The question is how much higher.
“This is what an article said in the ‘Alaska Dispatch.’ It said Alaska small businesses feel pinch of rising health care costs. The article tells the story of a restaurant owner with 24 employees. The restaurant owner is paying about $5,000 a month more than he paid just last year for his share of his workers' insurance. That's about a 40% increase over last year. 40%. The president said it was going to go down. 40% increase.
“This small business owner in Alaska says the costs are crippling, and he said it's like meeting another payroll every month. Small business owner says it's killing me. He said I just don't know how long we can keep absorbing these costs.
“Those costs are a devastating side effect of the health care law. Democrats voted for it. Every Democrat in the senate voted for that.
“There was a story on the television up there, channel 13, a television station in Anchorage, KYUR. They aired a story last month about Linda Peters. She is another local business owner. She had 14 employees, and she pays for the health insurance for her employees. Her share of the premium has gone up, gone up from $600 per person two years ago to $950 today.
“She says it's gotten so expensive she has had to shift the cost of employees' dependents back to her workers. So she was providing insurance for the dependents of the employees, but no, she is now not able to do that. Why? Because of the president's health care law. She told the TV station it was really tragic. It's enraging, she says, in fact, as employers who care about our employees.
“Tragic and enraging, but the president forced on her and every Democrat in this body, every Democrat senator who voted for this.
“Now this woman in Alaska, tragic and enraging. She is looking into just dropping insurance coverage altogether. Now, she pays her employees well so they won't get a subsidy in the state exchange. Here is a small business owner who can speak personally about the expensive, the tragic and the enraging side effects of the Obama health care law on her employees.
“And of course there is a lot of uncertainty about what happens next and how much rates might continue to go up, and of course that makes it even worse. The business owner said I just can't penalize my employees by dropping the plan and I can't figure out where am I going to get the money? It's frightening, she said. What happens next year? It's a big concern, what happens next year.
“People worry about next year, they budget for next year, they plan for next year, they think about their expenses, balancing their income. President Obama says the Democrats who voted for this law in the president's own words should forcefully defend and be proud. Should forcefully defend and be proud of the health care law.
“Are Democrats in this Senate who voted for this health care law proud? Are they proud of what they are doing, these people in Alaska and other states?
“Are Democrats willing to come to this floor and forcefully defend and be proud of the extra stress, the extra cost that they are causing for these people all across the country?
“According to a recent study by the Manhattan Institute, people in Alaska are paying a lot more for their coverage. They found that the average 64-year-old woman in Alaska, her premiums would have been $693 a month in 2013. That's before they were forced onto the Obamacare exchange.
“But in 2014 buying insurance through the exchange, her premiums jumped to $1,813 a month. She is paying $1,400 more this year than she did last year because of the specifics of the health care law.
“For a 27-year-old man, he would have paid an average of $130 a month in 2013, but under the health care law and the exchange, he now pays $284 a month. It's more than doubled. It's an extra $1,800 more this year than it was last year.
“Is there a senator in this body who will come to the floor and forcefully defend the fact that there are these people all across America who are paying twice as much for insurance because of the health care law?
“Democrats didn't solve the problem with our health care system. They just mandated coverage and mandated more expensive coverage. They made it more expensive and they have more mandates.
“People wanted reform that gave them access to quality, affordable care, not more expensive coverage.
“Republicans have offered solutions, solutions for patient-centered care, for patient-centered health care reform. We've talked about things like increasing the ability of small businesses to be able to join together and negotiate better rates. About expanding health savings accounts and by allowing people to shop for and buy health insurance in other states that work best for them and for their families.
“In 18 states, including Alaska, the small business exchange will offer just one choice for insurance. Shopping in other states could increase competition and help lower premiums for people who work for those small businesses.
“Now, that would have been a simple solution that works, that helped people actually afford coverage and care. It's not what Democrats did with their health care law but it's what Republicans are offering.
“We've suggested ideas that would give people the care they need from a doctor that they choose at lower cost, not higher costs with a subsidy for some people but actually lowering the cost for everyone.
“Republicans are going to keep coming to the floor, we're going to keep offering real solutions for better health care without all of these tragic side effects.
“And I'm sure that tomorrow there will be another headline and another one the day after that of people who have been harmed by the health care law as we see more and more and hear from more and more Americans who feel that the president has not kept his promises, that the Democrats who voted for the health care law have failed the American people and have failed to answer the concerns of the American people, which was affordable, quality care.”