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Obamacare's Broken Promises to Kentucky

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By Senator Mitch McConnell

A recent study published by the Society of Actuaries--the nation's leading group of financial risk analysts, and as non-partisan a group as you will find--revealed that thanks to Obamacare, the costs of medical claims for Kentuckians next year would rise an average of 34 percent. With wages stagnant and gas and tuition prices skyrocketing, these premium increases will be especially devastating for middle-class families.

Liberal Democrats in Washington act as if this is surprising news. Three years after pushing the law through, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius grudgingly admitted that now, "there may be a higher cost associated with getting into that [health care] market."

But Kentuckians aren't surprised at all. It's been obvious all along Obamacare would raise costs, cut jobs, grow the government, and slow the economy. This new report is more proof that this law is failing to deliver on its promises--and that those of us who opposed it were right to be skeptical.

I've held 35 town halls at Kentucky hospitals and medical facilities over the past few years, and heard from thousands of Kentuckians about how this law will adversely affect them, their families, and their livelihoods.

Jack, a small-business owner in Owensboro, wrote to me: "It is almost certain that my company that has an annual payroll in excess of $3 million and 212 employees in western Kentucky will surely close because we cannot afford the mandated insurance penalty."

Bradford, the administrator of a nursing and rehabilitation center in Louisville, wrote that Obamacare "will leave me no choice but to lay off additional workers so that I will be able to either purchase insurance for my remaining employees, or pay the penalty for not having a health insurance plan…[Obamacare] is a significant obstacle to maintaining the level of service to which our residents have been accustomed."

And Junior Bridgeman, the famous former University of Louisville basketball player and current owner of over 160 restaurant franchises across the country, wrote: "The law does not consider our ability to afford the mandate. Under our current labor model, [it] will increase labor costs whether we offer health care or pay the tax penalties….This creates, in essence, a disincentive to hire low income employees."

How did so many Kentuckians grasp the simple truth that Obamacare would be disastrous to our economy, when the so-called experts in Washington did not? I think the difference is the common sense that comes from working in a business--as opposed to working in a bureaucracy.

No one thought our health care system was perfect, but many were concerned that Obamacare would undermine the things they did like about our health care system. These Kentuckians wanted reform, but they wanted the right reforms, not some grand scheme that increased our debt, expanded the government, raised premiums, killed jobs, and forced Americans off the plans they currently have and like. As predicted, however, the latter is just what they got.

The more we learn about Obamacare, the clearer it becomes that there is just no way to fix it. It costs way too much, and it's not working the way its proponents said it would. If we have any hope of fixing the country's health care system without crippling our economy in the process, Obamacare must be pulled out by its roots. Only then will we be able to start over with common-sense reforms that actually improve the quality of care and lower costs for individuals and families across the country.

Believe me, none of us who predicted that Obamacare would have a harmful impact on our health care system and our economy take any pleasure in seeing our predictions come true. We only raise them to point out that this was the wrong approach to solving the problems in our health care system--and to remind Americans that there is still a better way.


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