U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the need to repeal Obamacare and help lift the heavy burden it has placed on the American people.
Remarks (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, five years ago, days after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, the senior Democrat senator from New York went on Meet the Press to discuss the bill.
“He told the host, and I quote, ‘Well, I think as people learn about the bill, and now that the bill is enacted, it’s going to become more and more popular.’
“Mr. President, I don’t need to tell anyone that that never happened.
“Five years after Obamacare was enacted, a majority of Americans disapprove of the law.
“And that’s a pattern that we’ve seen since the law’s passage.
“So why has the law failed to earn the support Democrats predicted?
“For one simple reason, Mr. President: The law is just not working as President Obama promised.
“The Affordable Care Act was supposed to lower health care premiums.
“It was supposed to reduce health care costs.
“It was supposed to protect the health care plans Americans wanted to keep.
“The law was sold as a health care solution, but it’s turned out to be yet another health care problem.
“Five years after the law’s passage, here’s where we are:
“Americans with job-based insurance are paying more for their health care, with the average employee seeing a $400 increase in his or her deductible since 2010.
“Small business employees have fared even worse, with average deductibles now close to $2,000.
“And Americans are paying more for their premiums as well.
“Average annual premium contribution for family coverage is currently $12,591, up from $9,773 in 2010.
“That’s nearly $3,000 in additional premium costs, or another $250 a month.
“And for many families, this comes on top of an increase in their deductible.
“Meanwhile, thousands of part-time workers have lost their job-based insurance, thanks to Obamacare mandates that encouraged several large employers to stop offering health benefits to part-time employees.
“The situation on the exchanges is no better.
“Exchange premiums will rise once again this year, with many Americans facing rate increases in the double digits.
“Mr. President, over the past few months, I’ve heard from numerous constituents wondering how they will be able to afford the massive premium increases they are facing.
“One constituent in Wessington, South Dakota, wrote to tell me that her and her husband’s health care plan is going from $17,194 this year to a staggering $25,370 next year.
“That’s an increase of more than $8,000.
“What family can afford an $8,000 increase in expenses from one year to the next?
“Another constituent of mine wrote to tell me, and I quote, ‘We just received our rate increase for our family health insurance. We have been paying $1283.81 a month and the $557.45 increase will bring it up to $1841.26. This amount has gone from 26 percent to 37 percent of our income. It is over twice of our house payment. … After having insurance coverage for the past 38 years, we are faced with dropping coverage, which is ironic since that is not the purpose of the Affordable Health Care Act. We are considering dropping insurance and facing the penalty just so we can continue to live in our house, pay the bills, and buy groceries.’
“Mr. President, I have received far too many letters like these, from individuals who are facing enormous premium increases.
“One constituent who wrote to me is facing a 69 percent premium increase.
“She and her husband are facing a $22,884 insurance bill.
“She could buy a brand new car for less.
“It’s no surprise that a recent survey from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that nearly 80 percent of uninsured Americans who have looked for insurance report that they cannot afford to buy health insurance.
“The grim reality for millions of Americans is that the Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable.
“And unfortunately higher health costs are just one of the problems with this law.
“Obamacare has also reduced Americans’ health care choices.
“Faced with expensive Obamacare mandates, insurance companies have chosen one of the few methods left to them to control costs: restricting consumers’ choice of doctors and hospitals.
“Americans were promised they could keep the doctor they liked, but for many Americans, that is not true.
“Then there are the taxes imposed by the law.
“Because the administration did its best to hide the true costs of Obamacare, most Americans don’t realize that the law hiked taxes by a trillion dollars.
“But in fact the law imposed almost a dozen new taxes, including an annual tax on health insurance that is passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums, a tax increase on flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts, and a tax on wages and self-employment income.
“President Obama promised not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000, but as we all know, he broke that promise many times over when Obamacare was signed into law.
“Many of these taxes directly impact low- and middle-income families.
“Additionally, the law’s tax on the makers of lifesaving medical devices like Pacemakers and insulin pumps, which went into effect in 2013, has already eliminated jobs in the medical device industry and driven up the price of essential medical equipment.
“And the medical device industry is not the only industry in which Obamacare is costing jobs.
“Obamacare’s requirement that employers provide their workers with government-approved insurance or pay a tax has made employing full-time workers more costly, which has discouraged employers from hiring.
“Workers in the retail and restaurant industries – many of them younger, less-skilled workers – have been hit particularly hard.
“In all, the Congressional Budget Office has predicted that Obamacare will result in the equivalent of 2 million fewer full-time jobs in 2017 and 2.5 million fewer full-time jobs by 2024.
“That’s not good news for our already sluggish economy.
“Mr. President, all Americans remember the president’s claim that under Obamacare ‘If you like your plan you can keep it’ – a claim that was named Politifact’s ‘Lie of the Year’ in 2013 after Obamacare eliminated the health care plans of more than 4 million Americans.
“Now hundreds of thousands of Americans will be losing their Obamacare health care plan after a number of the health insurance co-ops established under the law proved unsustainable.
“In all, 12 of the 23 health care co-ops established by the president’s health care law have collapsed, resulting in the loss of billions in taxpayer dollars in addition to the loss of Americans’ health plans.
“Taxpayers have also lost more than $1 billion spent on failed or failing state exchanges like the failed exchanges in Oregon, Hawaii, Vermont, Maryland, and Massachusetts.
“Mr. President, four years after telling Meet the Press that Obamacare would become ‘more and more popular,’ the senior senator from New York admitted that Democrats had made a strategic error by focusing on Obamacare.
“Americans, he admitted, were, and I quote, ‘crying out for an end to the recession, for better wages and more jobs; not for changes in their health care.’
“Mr. President, the senator from New York was right: Americans didn’t want Obamacare then, and they certainly don’t want it now.
“Obamacare is broken, and Americans know it.
“And it’s time to repeal this law and start moving toward the kind of health care reform Americans are actually looking for: an affordable, accountable, patient-focused system that gives individuals control of their health care decisions.
“This week, the Senate will take up a repeal bill that will begin the process of lifting the burdens the Affordable Care Act has placed on Americans.
“I look forward to debating this bill and working with my colleagues to begin building a bridge to a better health care system for hardworking families across the country.
“It’s time to give the American people the real health care reform they deserve.”