By Sen. John Thune
When I’m home in South Dakota, I spend a lot of my time traveling the state to hear from farmers, ranchers, small business owners, and moms and dads about the issues important to them. It’s the best way to cut through the noise and hear directly from the people who are impacted by the decisions made in Washington, D.C. I frequently hear about the mountains of federal regulations that are stifling growth for businesses and private landowners and how the government’s out-of-control spending is saddling the next generation of Americans with unsustainable debt. And almost without fail, I hear about the federal government’s takeover of the nation’s health care system and the financial strain it’s creating.
Obamacare is broken, plain and simple. I understand how difficult it is for Democrats to concede that point since they consider it one of their top accomplishments, but pretending that it isn’t broken will only cause more pain for the American people in the future. Objectively speaking, it just didn’t work. Democrats said it would lower costs, but premiums and deductibles are skyrocketing. Democrats promised that all Americans could keep their existing health care plans and doctors, but that wasn’t true either. Obamacare had lofty goals, but Democrats overpromised and underdelivered, and the American people have been left holding the bag.
Democrats are quick to point out that millions more Americans are insured today than before Obamacare was signed into law – the result, in part, of a law that forced law-abiding Americans to purchase a product, whether they wanted it or not. Democrats conveniently forget to mention the nearly 30 million Americans who remain uninsured and the millions who lost the doctors and coverage they enjoyed before Obamacare became the law of the land. Today, some Democrats are slowly starting to admit Obamacare’s failures, primarily because the facts can no longer be ignored.
In a brief moment of candor, former President Bill Clinton recently called Obamacare the “craziest thing in the world.” Many South Dakotans would agree. And the Obama administration recently conceded that Obamacare premiums would rise by an average of 25 percent in 39 states across the country next year. Here in South Dakota, premiums will rise by 37 percent, according to a study by Congress’ Joint Economic Committee. That’s the eighth highest premium increase in the United States. South Dakotans can’t afford such an extreme hike in costs.
The version of Obamacare that Democrats dreamt about seven years ago is just that, a dream that’s unrecognizable to the American people today. Obamacare is the perfect case study in what happens when one political party ignores the other and implements a big-government takeover of a large portion of the U.S. economy. It didn’t work, and something this broken cannot simply be repaired. The sooner my Democrat colleagues admit it, the sooner the two parties and a new president can get to work on policies that actually fulfill the needs of the American people by lowering costs and increasing access to care.