U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) this week highlighted the Senate Republicans’ plan to save the American people from Obamacare’s increasingly long list of problems. Thune outlined several principles, including helping to stabilize collapsing insurance markets, improving the affordability of health insurance, preserving access to care for those with pre-existing conditions, safeguarding Medicaid for those who need it most, and freeing the American people from onerous Obamacare mandates.
Thune’s remarks are below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, it’s hard to argue that Obamacare is not a failing law.
“Seven years after it became law, its laundry list of problems continues to grow.
“Customers losing health plans.
“Patients losing doctors.
“And unfortunately, without action, that list will only get longer and the consequences will only become more severe.
“Republicans know that.
“Democrats know that.
“Unfortunately, many Americans know that firsthand.
“The American people deserve better, and they rightly expect us to act.
“That’s why choosing to watch from the sidelines as Obamacare fails is not an option.
“To say that Obamacare has created significant problems for the American people is an understatement.
“And that’s why Senate Republicans are working to fix the mess created by Obamacare and provide real solutions to this failed law.
“We want to save the millions of hard-working families who are trapped by Obamacare’s taxes and mandates.
“Average annual individual market premiums have increased by $2,928 — an increase of 105 percent — since 2013 in the 39 states that use healthcare.gov.
“And 62 percent of states using healthcare.gov, including my state of South Dakota, saw premiums double between 2013 and 2017.
“We will help stabilize these collapsing insurance markets that have left millions of Americans with little or no options.
“Today, one in three counties has only one insurer on its Obamacare exchange.
“According to CMS, 47 counties nationwide are projected to have no insurers, which means Americans in these counties could be without coverage on the exchanges for 2018.
“As many as 1,200 counties – nearly 40 percent of counties nationwide – could have only one issuer in 2018.
“We will improve the affordability of health care by eliminating the Obamacare taxes and mandates that are causing premiums to increase the most.
“These taxes and mandates have cost the American economy a trillion dollars – a cost that was ultimately incurred by patients in the form of higher costs and larger tax bills.
“Reversing these taxes will provide millions of American families and businesses with much-needed tax relief.
“Mr. President, we’ll also preserve access to care for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
“There has been a lot of debate and misinformation about this issue over the past few months.
“In the Senate, we’ll ensure that individuals with pre-existing conditions continue to have access to the care they depend upon.
“We will also safeguard Medicaid by giving states more flexibility, while ensuring those who rely on this program won’t have the rug pulled out from under them.
“States should have the flexibility to design and operate Medicaid programs in a fiscally responsible way and not be stymied by the federal government.
“Making these critical reforms to Medicaid will empower states with the tools they need to implement health care programs that best meet their residents’ needs.
“We must also ensure those Americans who already rely on this program will not be left in a lurch.
“Republicans recognize our responsibility to make sure Medicaid continues to provide quality care for these vulnerable citizens.
“We will balance the needs of the individuals who have Medicaid coverage, while ensuring sustainability of the Medicaid program.
“Finally, Mr. President, we will free the American people from the onerous Obamacare mandates that, in some cases, force them to purchase insurance they don’t want or can’t afford.
“These mandates have resulted in burdensome taxes that have been levied against small businesses and the American people.
“The Republican health care plan will revoke these burdensome mandates and put the American people – not Washington – back in charge of their health care.
“This would be a huge leap in the right direction for hard-working families and small businesses.
“Reforming America’s health care system isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
“We’ve spent years debating this issue, and we’ve had a lot of ideas along the way.
“Now it’s time to take action.
“The core principles of the Republican health care plan are:
“Helping to stabilize collapsing insurance markets;
“Improving the affordability of health insurance;
“Preserving access to care for those with pre-existing conditions;
“Safeguarding Medicaid for those who need it most;
“And freeing the American people from onerous Obamacare mandates.
“Mr. President, without meaningful action, Obamacare’s problems aren’t going anywhere.
“Without action, the individual market will continue to collapse and more and more Americans will be without insurance options.
“Without action, Americans will continue to experience rising health care costs because of the law’s costly taxes and mandates.
“Without action, states will continue to be hamstrung by Medicaid’s bureaucracy, and we will not be able to put this critical program on a more sustainable path for the folks who need it the most.
“Without action, the “Washington-knows-best” approach to health care lives on.
“We can’t let that happen, which is why we plan to deliver patient-centered health care reforms that lower costs and increase access to care.”