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Public Statements

Obamacare's Broken Promises

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. BLACK. Mr. Speaker, I rise today with many of my freshman colleagues to talk about the impact of a very important bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called ObamaCare, on our economy, our caregivers, and most importantly, the American people seeking care. Any day now the Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision on ObamaCare. And while I hope that the Supreme Court rules on the side of the Constitution and the American people, no matter what happens, the fact remains, this law is bad policy. It's bad for health care, it's bad for the economy, and it's bad for the future of our country.

The rhetoric of the bold promises used to pass ObamaCare into law simply cannot be reconciled with reality. The more the law is implemented, the more the American people don't want it. The President's promises on quality of care, lower insurance premiums, no increase in taxes, and no effect on the deficit, in just 3 years have been broken time and time again.

Broken promise number one: President Obama said in March of 2010:

If you like your doctor, you're going to be able to keep your doctor. If you like your plan, keep your plan.

The reality is, President Obama's very own administration now estimates that the new regulations contained in ObamaCare will force up to 80 percent of small businesses to give up their current plans by 2013. The Congressional Budget Office also estimates that between 3 million and 5 million people will be dropped from their employer-based coverage by the time the law is fully implemented.

When I visit businesses in my district, I always ask: Have you done the math? Will you keep your insurance or will you pay the fine? Time and time again I get the same answer: We'd like to keep insuring our employees, but it doesn't make good business sense to do so.

Yesterday, in fact, I participated in a field hearing in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on the effects of government regulation on the economy. We heard from several business owners and State leaders. A gentleman by the name of H. Grady Payne of Conner Industries, which has a plant in Fayetteville, discussed the impact of ObamaCare on his business. He said his company has about 450 employees, and he struggles each year to encourage them to participate in health insurance. The company has had to create different employee groups in order to create an employee base which would have 75 percent participation as required by most insurance companies.

Now, Payne said that the nondiscrimination provisions of the health care reform would prohibit this, forcing the company into several expensive options. It could switch from full insurance to self-insurance; it could expand coverage to all employees and have the employee cost set according to an affordability formula; or it could stop offering health insurance altogether and instead pay a penalty of $2,000 for each employee. Payne said any of the three options would cost the company more than $1 million compared to current costs.

I'll talk about other broken promises, but I would like to yield 5 minutes to my good friend, the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Young), representing the Ninth District of beautiful Bloomington.

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Mrs. BLACK. Thank you, Mr. Young. I appreciate his comments about starting over. Certainly, we do feel that that is the direction that we need to go. As a matter of fact, we've had over two dozen votes on repealing and replacing this very onerous bill that has affected our businesses, as has just been said.

Now I'd like to yield 5 minutes to our class president, as a matter of fact, Austin Scott, who represents the Sixth Congressional District in Georgia, and he represents Warner Robins.

I yield to my colleague from Georgia.

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Mrs. BLACK. Thank you so much, Representative Scott, for coming here today and talking about the negative impact on our economy. Certainly, we know that that is true.

I want to talk about broken promise number 2, and how this is a negative impact on our seniors.

Broken promise number 2 is proponents of ObamaCare claimed that it would protect Medicare. That couldn't be further from the truth. The health care law cuts more than $500 billion from Medicare, and it threatens the choice seniors currently have in deciding which kind of health care best fits their individual needs. And thanks to ObamaCare, Medicare Advantage enrollment will be cut in half by 2017. The only thing this law does for Medicare is ensures bankruptcy in 8 years.

Now, instead of structurally reforming Medicare and building on what is working with Medicare Advantage, ObamaCare further weakens Medicare's fiscal state and punts the difficult health care decisions to unelected bureaucrats. This is clearly not the way to preserve care for our current or future retirees. Real, sustainable reforms must be made for those under 55 in order to keep our promises to current seniors.

This law hurts seniors today, and it stands in the way of protecting this program for our future children and grandchildren.

Now I'd like to yield 5 minutes to a friend of mine from Las Vegas, Nevada, Representative Joe Heck, representing Nevada's Third District, who is a physician and a health care provider.

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Mrs. BLACK. Thank you, Dr. Heck.

And Dr. Heck talked, as we all know, about the major costs that are involved in this ObamaCare, and I want to talk about broken promise number 3. It will not add, and I quote, ``one dime to our deficit.'' That was a laughable assertion then, and now, 3 years later, it is clear that it could not be further from the truth. The law will add trillions to our deficit in the years to come.

Former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin estimates that the law will increase the national debt by at least $500 billion in the first 10 years, and over $1.5 trillion in the second decade, not to mention the $115 billion needed to implement the law. That is more than $2 trillion in new debt that will be passed on to our children and our grandchildren.

Now I would like to yield 5 minutes to my good friend, Mike Kelly, who represents Pennsylvania Three, and he hails from Erie, Pennsylvania.

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Mrs. BLACK. I thank my friend from Pennsylvania, who is a job creator.

We are talking about how this bill is affecting our job creators and our economy, which leads right into my broken promise number 4.

It was said that it will not raise any of your taxes. The President's health care law broke this promise with 20 different tax hikes, placing a tremendous burden on American families and small businesses--the engines of job growth. Americans are already facing a barrage of Washington-created headwinds from the avalanche of new regulations to the impending fiscal cliff on January 1. On top of that, job creators also must work against the velocity of the massive $5 billion ObamaCare tax increase that will be coming at them over the next decade.

This year, the ObamaCare tax burden comes in at around $15 billion, as you can see here on the chart, which represents about $190 for each family of four, but we see it increase 20-fold by the year 2040 when the tax burden will be $320 billion and when the amount for a family of four will be $3,290.

With the cost of living--with gas and food and all of these other crushing burdens on our people--they just cannot afford another increase in taxes. Every dollar businesses are holding back in anticipation of this tax hike or new regulation is a dollar not spent on hiring Americans who are out of work.

With that, I would like to yield 5 minutes of my time to Rob Woodall, my good colleague from Lawrenceville, Georgia.

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Mrs. BLACK. Yes, that's exactly what you're seeing here. It is the rhetoric versus the reality on premium costs.

We can see that the promise was that we'll bring down the premiums by $2,500 for the typical family. We see here is the line of the rhetoric and here is the reality, and we can see that it did not bring it down. As a matter of fact, they're going to continue to go up. It's estimated, by the time we reach 2015, the premiums will actually have increased by almost $2,400. A broken promise.

My concern is when folks see that chart back home, they are not aghast. Because candidly, that's what they expected. They expected good rhetoric out of Washington, D.C., and they expected abysmal results. Candidly, I don't know why they wouldn't. It doesn't matter whether it's a Republican administration or a Democratic administration, Washington, D.C., is famous in its one-size-fits-all solutions for overpromising and underdelivering.

But you always have hope. You always have hope that this time it's going to be different. Say what you want to about hope and change. I remember when the President was rolling out this provision. I thought, Golly, if we would just pass this bill 10 pages at a time, there probably would be some meritorious parts of it, there would probably be some provisions that the American people would want. I might not want them, and leave me alone in the world that I live in, but other folks would want them, it would pass by 218 votes, If we would only look at it one small part at a time.

But there were some ugly things in the bill, ugly things that I hope the Supreme Court solves and releases to us next week and shares with us. There were things that folks wanted to hide in all of these other provisions in the health care bill. One of the things that I pride myself on in this Congress, what we've seen out of the Ways and Means Committee, is we haven't seen any 2,000-page bills in the 15 months that you and I have been in Congress. We haven't seen any 1,500-page bills when my freshman colleague from Alabama has been here in Congress. We've seen limited bills with limited ideas that the American people can digest and understand.

I know that we can deliver that, with the help of colleagues like the gentlelady from Tennessee, with the Doctors Caucus here in this House, the largest Doctors Caucus that we have ever had in this House. I know that we can implement solutions that make sense 10 pages at a time in consultation with the American people, not an end-run around the American people.

I just keep staring at this chart behind you--promises that insurance costs would go down, and the reality that a command-and-control government structure has driven those costs up.

I was a staffer here before I ran for Congress, and I was here when this bill was being passed. I remember the phone calls coming in, when folks started to say, What's the rush? I'm a Democrat. I'm an independent. I'm someone who wants the government involved in health care, but what's the rush? I'm concerned that there is something hidden in there that you folks in Congress want to push it all through before we've had a chance to see what's in it.

Chart after chart that you brought down here tonight brings back those memories, that that's exactly right. There were things hidden in there. Folks did not know what was in it. But we now have a chance to do it better. With your leadership on the Ways and Means Committee, I'm certain that we will.

I thank the gentlelady for the time.

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Mrs. BLACK. I thank the gentlelady from Alabama for coming to the floor and giving us some very real situations and quotes from people right back in your district. I was writing down here that you had folks who were providers of health care, people who were job creators. I'm talking about the patients, talking about whether this is really what our government was set up to do, and bringing these very real situations here so that we can let the American people know how this bill is affecting every segment of our society. I thank you so much for coming, especially with those remarks of the people from your district because these are the people who are living this and are every day having to deal with what is being placed as a burden upon them. So thank you so much for sharing that. That's the purpose of this Special Order tonight.

I would now like to yield 5 minutes to my good friend and colleague from Cincinnati, Ohio, Steve Chabot.

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Mrs. BLACK. Thank you. I thank you for coming here tonight to talk about this program and how it has put a wet blanket on our economy. Not only that, you did talk about some real solutions that really could help to deliver health care and make it more accessible, increase the quality of the care, and at the same time lower the cost. So I sure do appreciate that.

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Mrs. BLACK. I'm going to go quickly to my last points here.

In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court is expected to release their decision regarding the constitutionality of ObamaCare. And I stand firmly with those 26 States and the National Federation of Independent Businesses who have laid out convincing evidence that this bill seriously violates our Constitution and our founding principles. For the last 3 years, no one has known how or when the court would rule on ObamaCare so the House has worked tirelessly to repeal and defund the law. Because every day this law stands is a day that jobs are being lost, Americans' health care insurance premiums are going up, job creators and consumers are bearing the brunt of ObamaCare's tax hikes. And in just 3 short years, ObamaCare has already resulted in fewer jobs, higher health care costs, and more debt.

My first act here in Congress was repealing this law in its entirety. Subsequently, I have voted more than two dozen times to either defund or repeal ObamaCare since being elected to Congress. Unfortunately, these amendments and others like them have been blocked by the Democrat-controlled Senate. But due to the steady stream of broken promises, the growing and unrelenting public outcry, and Republican lawmakers' unwavering determination, we have been successful in getting several of the most egregious portions of ObamaCare repealed or defunded and signed into law. In fact, one of those successes was my legislation that closed the loophole in the health care law and saved taxpayers $13 billion. My bill was signed into the law by the President last November.

Six other ObamaCare provisions have been repealed or have had funding rescinded and signed into law. One of those that many of us will remember is the onerous 1099 tax provision that would have drastically affected especially our small businesses.

Now Republicans are not going to stop here. We will continue to pursue opportunities to get these and other defunding and repeal bills to President Obama's desk. Before coming to Congress, I worked in health care as a registered nurse for more than 40 years, and I have seen firsthand the problems and the obstacles that patients and the health care providers face. But ObamaCare is only serving to exacerbate the current problems and creates entirely new problems. Repealing ObamaCare is a very important first step that must be accomplished, but that simply is not enough.

For the past two sessions of Congress, the House Budget Committee has produced full repeals of ObamaCare and has also set in place a constructive framework to replace the government takeover of health care. House Republicans have built on principles that empower patients with policies that have proven records of success.

Now the House Republican budget passed last year heeds the warnings of economists around the world. The simple truth is that ObamaCare is one of the single most destructive things to happen to our economy. We cannot try to micromanage 17 percent of our economy through a maze of mandates, taxes, and price control. Our project uses models that foster competition, innovation, and choice as driving principles behind improving our health care system.

A critical part of implementing real, patient-centered reform is Medicare reform. The premium support structure would be a constructive approach to defending and saving Medicare for current and future retirees. Premium support would reflect the structure of the overwhelming successful Medicare part D program. Now Medicare's prescription drug program is succeeding beyond all expectations. It's delivering needed prescription drugs to the Medicare beneficiaries at a lower cost than expected due to the strong competition--yes, competition--among health care plans that work to keep costs down and negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for savings.

This market-based program is seen by policymakers as a model for how to restructure health care entitlement programs. The CBO estimates show that part D is costing far less than the initial projections. Total costs for part D are now estimated to be 43 percent lower than the initial projections for the initial 2004 2013 forecast period, according to CBO Medicare part D baselines for 2004 2013.

In March of 2012, the CBO reduced its Medicare part D spending projection from 2013 2022 by $107 billion. This was due to ``an increase in the number of high-volume drugs with generic substitutes available and changes in drug utilization.'' At the same time, CBO increased its

projected spending for the rest of Medicare.

Now let's take a look at the average beneficiary part D premiums in 2012 that are far below the original projections. As a matter of fact, you can see here on the chart that the average monthly beneficiary premium for part D coverage is about $30 in 2012, virtually unchanged from 2011 and far below the $56 forecast that was originally projected. According to the CMS administrator, Don Berwick, these consistently low premiums, ``are going to make medications more affordable to the Medicare beneficiaries,'' and CMS officials reported in 2011 over 99 percent of part D enrollees had access to the plan with a premium that is the same or lower than their 2010 premium. And you can see that very clearly here on this chart of what the projections were and what the actual amount is coming in. The same amount of the premium in 2011 and 2012. Just remarkable.

Now research shows that increased access to medication achieved through part D is actually lowering beneficiaries' health care costs. A new study in JAMA found that the implementation of the Medicare prescription drug program was followed by a $1,200 per year decrease in nondrug medical spending among those who previously had limited drug coverage, which has been reported to generate over $12 billion per year in savings to part D from less use of hospital and skilled nursing facilities.

As a matter of fact, what this has shown is that because patients are receiving their medication and can afford them, they are not going to the hospital as much, therefore saving costs. Beneficiaries are also highly satisfied with part D. Recently released surveys showed that Medicare part D enrollees are overwhelmingly satisfied with part D coverage. Eighty-eight percent of the part D enrollees are satisfied with their coverage, and 95 percent say this coverage works well. Additionally, vulnerable beneficiaries who are dually eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare exhibit the highest satisfaction.

Now should the high court fail to overturn the law, or sever parts of this disastrous piece of legislation, the House Republicans will continue to fight to defund and repeal ObamaCare. While the country continues to suffer from failed policies and broken promises of the Obama administration, my Republican colleagues and I will not only continue to undo the damage, but we will also rebuild a health care system that puts patients and their doctors in the driver's seat rather than the unelected bureaucrats here in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the remainder of my time.


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