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Public Statements

Health Care

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. KYL. Mr. President, as three of my colleagues have already noted this morning, President Obama's health care law turns 1 next week, and in my view it hasn't been aging very well.

On the eve of its 1-year anniversary, I too would like to review a few key developments related to the law and its implementation and note that, at least to me, it is very clear this bill has not become more popular with Americans but decreasingly popular.

Let us go back to March 23, 2010, just about 1 year ago. That is when the President signed this health care bill into law. Later, that very day, 13 States filed a lawsuit against it in a Florida Federal court. Another 13 States have joined the suit since. In addition, Virginia filed its own separate lawsuit on the day of enactment.

May 11, 2010. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office revised upward its cost estimate of ObamaCare. According to the CBO, ObamaCare will cost $115 million more than originally estimated, pushing the cost of the program to over $1 trillion.

June 2010. With public opinion still decidedly against the law, a poll at that time found that 58 percent of Americans supported repeal. The Department of Health and Human Services launched a public relations campaign to try to change people's minds. Many seniors received a pamphlet from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that made claims such as:

Your guaranteed Medicare benefits won't change--whether you get them through original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan.

But, of course, the pamphlet failed to mention the fact that the law cuts Medicare Advantage plans by $202 billion over 10 years, meaning higher premiums, less benefits, and fewer plan choices for seniors. The CBO estimates that the extra benefits currently provided by Medicare Advantage plans will be cut in half.

July 11, 2010. President Obama used a recess appointment to name Donald Berwick as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency that will play a critical role in the implementation of ObamaCare. The President used this procedure in an attempt to bypass the regular confirmation process before the Senate had held a hearing or voted on the nominee. The recess appointment allows Dr. Berwick to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services through the end of this year.

A hearing would have given Senators the opportunity to question Dr. Berwick about his very controversial views, including his espousal of health care rationing. He has, for example, praised the British national health care system, which routinely denies and rations care, as ``extremely effective'' and ``conscientious.''

On September 24, 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services issued its first waiver of ObamaCare provisions dealing with the limited benefit or mini-med plans. Since then, a total of 1,040 waivers have been granted, many to the administration's favored political constituencies. It seems as though they like the law as long as it doesn't apply to them.

December 13, 2010. A Federal district court judge in Virginia ruled that the law's mandate that individuals purchase government-approved health insurance is unconstitutional.

January 19 of this year. The House of Representatives voted 245 to 189 to repeal ObamaCare.

January 25, 2011. My Governor, Jan Brewer of Arizona, asked Secretary Sebelius to waive the maintenance-of-effort provision in the health care law. That is the provision that forces an unfunded Medicaid mandate on States by denying them the flexibility, the full ability to manage their own Medicaid Programs to fit their own budgets and their own unique Medicaid populations. This is a huge problem because Arizona, along with most other States, is experiencing a dire budget crisis.

January 26, 2011. Medicare Chief Actuary Richard Foster testified before the House Budget Committee. He acknowledged to the committee that President Obama's promise that Americans will get to keep their coverage if they like it is ``not true in all cases.''

January 31, 2011. Judge Roger Vinson, a Federal district court judge in Florida, ruled that the individual mandate in the law is unconstitutional and he invalidated the entire law. He concluded the law's requirement to buy insurance or pay a fee:

..... is outside Congress' Commerce Clause power, and it cannot be otherwise authorized by an assertion of power under the Necessary and Proper Clause. It is not constitutional.

He also writes:

It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America, would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy the tea in the first place. Surely this is not what the Founding Fathers could have intended.

On February 2 of this year, on the Senate vote to repeal the law, it failed on a party-line vote, 47 to 51. So the Senate did not follow the path of the House of Representatives to repeal ObamaCare.

On February 14, Valentines Day, the IRS submitted to Congress its fiscal year 2012 budget request. The health care bill is mentioned by the IRS more than 250 times. The IRS will have to hire thousands of new workers to implement the many new tax provisions. As the request noted, the health care law:

..... presents a major challenge for the IRS. It represents the largest set of tax law changes in 20 years, with more than 40 provisions to amend the tax laws.

Just to remind my colleagues and our constituents throughout this country, the health care law has more than 40 provisions, the largest set of tax law changes in 20 years.

February 22 of this year. A Clinton-appointed Federal judge ruled that ObamaCare is constitutional because the Constitution somehow permits the Federal Government to regulate what the court called ``mental activity.''

So much for keeping your thoughts to yourself.

On March 3, 2011, at the request of the Obama administration, a Federal judge in Florida, the Federal judge who had previously ruled that ObamaCare is unconstitutional, clarified his ruling and noted his continuing concern with the fact that if the law is upheld, he says, ``Congress could, indeed, mandate that everyone buy broccoli.''

I think the first President Bush would have a real problem with that mandate.

March 14, 2011, just 3 days ago. The latest Rasmussen poll shows that support for repeal of the health care law has reached its highest level since May of 2010, with 62 percent of likely voters now favoring repeal.

That is what we should do. These developments highlight just some of the reasons why the bill is so unpopular and so deeply flawed that the American people agree it should be repealed and it should be replaced with more sensible ideas.

The debate on the health care law will no doubt continue throughout this year, especially now that two Federal courts have already ruled it is unconstitutional. It would be best if we could stay the law until the Supreme Court rules on its constitutionality. States and businesses could save a great deal of money, and insurance companies wouldn't have to raise their rates. We will have a chance, I hope, to vote on such a proposal.

Some things age well with time--not ObamaCare.

I yield the floor.

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