U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) this week discussed Obamacare’s ongoing problems, including high premiums and deductibles, fewer choices, failed co-ops, and unraveling exchanges. Thune noted that Republicans are working to implement health care reform that is more affordable, more personal, more flexible, and less bureaucratic than Obamacare.
As Obamacare continues to collapse, Thune also noted that the House of Representatives made an important step last week by passing the American Health Care Act and that he is looking forward to building off of their work to ensure that the American people have relief from Obamacare and get a health care system they deserve.
Thune’s remarks (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, it’s been said that nothing is certain but death and taxes.
“To that nowadays we might add bad news about Obamacare.
“Because if there’s one thing we can count on, it’s bad news about this fatally flawed law:
“High premium costs.
“Customers losing health plans.
“Customers losing doctors.
“I could go on.
“Mr. President, there’s no question that our health care system had problems before Obamacare was passed.
“Reforms were needed.
“But as the past seven years have made clear, Obamacare was not the answer.
“And this law is rapidly collapsing under its own weight.
“Here’s a sampling of recent Obamacare headlines.
“From Bloomberg: ‘Thousands of Obamacare Customers Left Without Options as Insurers Bolt’
“From CNBC: ‘Aetna will exit Obamacare markets in Virginia in 2018, citing expected losses on individual plans this year’
“From the Arizona Republic: ‘Consumers seek relief as ‘Obamacare’ rates rise’
“From USA Today: ‘Iowa may be without individual health plans if insurer pulls out’
“In February of this year, Mark Bertolini, CEO of health insurance company Aetna, asserted that Obamacare is in a death spiral.
“There’s good reason to think he’s right.
“Significant losses are driving health insurers out of the exchanges.
“Last year, Aetna announced that it would withdraw from 11 of the 15 states where it offered exchange plans.
“Humana said it would exit several exchanges.
“And mega-insurer UnitedHealthcare announced that it was pulling out of most of the 34 states where it offered exchange plans.
“Roughly one-third of U.S. counties have just one choice of health insurer on their exchange for 2017.
“And the situation looks likely to get much worse next year.
“In February, health insurer Humana announced its decision to completely withdraw from the Obamacare exchanges for 2018.
“Aetna is pulling out of two of the four states where it still offers plans in 2018, and may pull back further.
“Wellmark is leaving Iowa.
“UnitedHealthcare is leaving Virginia.
“And other insurers are contemplating similar exits.
“The New York Times reported in March that, and I quote, ‘Obamacare Choices Could Go From One to Zero in Some Areas.’
“'Parts of the country,’ the Times notes, ‘are in jeopardy of not having an insurer offering Obamacare plans next year.
“‘Many counties already have just one insurer offering health plans in the Obamacare marketplaces, and some of those solo insurers are showing signs that they are eying the exits.’
“That means that tens of thousands of Americans may have Obamacare subsidies next year without insurance plans to spend them on.
“As my colleague Senator Alexander, who does so much good work on health care as the chairman of the HELP Committee, has said, it’s like having a bus ticket in a town with no buses running.
“And while Americans’ health insurance options dwindle, their premiums are rising.
“Mid-level Obamacare plans saw an average 25 percent premium increase for 2017.
“A 25 percent increase.
“For just one year.
“And that’s on top of years of premium increases under Obamacare.
“And what are Americans with those plans paying for?
“Well, the odds are good that they’re paying for a plan with limited choices of doctors and hospitals.
“A 2016 study of 18 states and Washington, D.C., found that 75 percent of their exchange plans for 2017 would likely be health maintenance organizations or exclusive provider organizations – two types of plans that tend to offer narrow provider networks.
“Mr. President, in his joint address to Congress at the end of February, the president said of Obamacare: ‘Action is not a choice; it is a necessity.’
“He is exactly right.
“Obamacare is collapsing, and the status quo is not sustainable.
“Unless we want millions of Americans to face health care disaster, we have to repeal and replace this law.
“Last week, the House passed an Obamacare repeal and replacement bill.
“This legislation repeals Obamacare’s tax increases, penalties, and mandates and starts the process of restoring control of health care to states and individuals.
“The House has made a good start, and I’m looking forward to getting to build on their bill here in the Senate.
“I want to make sure we amend the House tax credit to insure that assistance is better targeted to those who need it the most.
“I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues – Chairman Alexander, Chairman Hatch on the Finance Committee, Policy Committee Chairman Barrasso, and many others – to make sure we have a bill that will provide the American people with real relief.
“Mr. President, Obamacare was founded on the premise that government knows best when it comes to individuals’ health care, and that a one-size-fits-all solution is the best solution.
“But we know that’s not the case.
“Individuals know best.
“Their doctors know best.
“Government doesn’t know best.
“It’s absurd to think that a massive federal bureaucracy can hand down one comprehensive solution that will somehow meet the needs of the hundreds of millions of individuals in this country.
“We need to move control from Washington and give it back to states, so that they can embrace health care innovations and solutions that work for the individuals and the particular needs in their state.
“Republicans are working to implement the kind of health care reform the American people are looking for:
“Americans have had enough of Obamacare’s problems.
“They’re ready for health care reform that actually works.
“And we’re committed to giving it to them.”