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Obamacare

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GUTHRIE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlelady for yielding.

It seems there's no shortage of red flags regarding ObamaCare. The one-size-fits-all health care law is proving to be disastrous for consumers, for employers and health care providers alike.

Just last week, as my friend from North Carolina said, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office warned:

Because government officials have missed multiple key deadlines to set up the new health insurance exchanges, there is serious concern that the exchanges will not be ready in October, as scheduled.

Employers and families across Kentucky have expressed serious concerns about meeting the requirements of the law and wondering if they will lose their coverage, be forced to choose different providers, or be saddled with enormous new costs. Now these individuals are left with even more uncertainty.

When talking with business leaders across my district, I hear a barrage of questions and concerns. Small businesses, the backbone of our economy, are likely the hardest to be hit. Some local insurers say the law could put them out of business. One restaurant owner says it will be a challenge for the whole industry and many will be forced to lay off employees. Others simply say it will be difficult to insure all of their existing employees.

A Gallup poll released last week showed that 41 percent of small businesses, the engine of our economic growth, have stopped hiring new employees because of ObamaCare. The same poll also showed that one-fifth of those surveyed have reduced their workforce because of the law.

Citing the uncertainty, these business leaders don't know what type of insurance programs they might be able to implement or if they will have to alter the shape of their workforce. The uncertainty seems likely to continue given the striking, but not surprising, report from the GAO.

The Government Accountability Office warns that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services still has many duties to complete across core exchange functions, including eligibility and enrollment. With enrollment less than 4 months away, these missed deadlines will likely result in even more confusion as Americans are prepared to be placed into the exchanges. It's no wonder that this law is so wildly unpopular and individuals fear being placed in exchanges.

But it's not just families and businessowners who are left in the dark. Insurance companies don't know what to plan for when the exchanges open, and some are already fleeing the market.

Aetna recently announced they will not participate in any statewide exchanges and they will exit the individual insurance market in California entirely. This mood can set a dangerous precedent: insurers not being willing to take the financial risk to meet the demands of ObamaCare and not participating in the exchanges altogether.

With competition dwindling and individuals not knowing what they can expect in terms of coverage and cost, we are left with a very scary and unacceptable reality. There are simply too many unknowns in the law that completely overhauls our Nation's health care system. This has led to unintended and negative consequences for employers, patients, and providers.

This law is not the solution to our Nation's health care problems, especially given the lack of information and tools available for implementation. Instead, we need to enact a patient-centered plan that lowers cost and ensures access for all Americans.

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Mr. GUTHRIE. We hear stories like that all the time when we're home.

We had one in the Energy and Commerce Committee when we had a gentleman who had a chain of restaurants he's developing in New England, which isn't where I'm from, but he was before the committee. His testimony was that he had eight restaurants and planned to open a ninth, and he decided he had to wait because he has no idea what this health care bill is going to cost him when he has to provide health care for his employees. Of the net income of his eight restaurants, he estimated--if he could come up with it because, as we know, you still don't know exactly what the health care bill is going to look like. We know what the bill looks like, but what we don't know is what's really in it because the rules have not come out to say what you have to provide your employees. It's supposed to happen in October and be ready for January 1. So he has decided to just not open a restaurant until this gets implemented so he can then move forward. He said it's going to take half of his net income, he has estimated, if what's in the rules comes out.

If you've ever been in business, it's something you always take home, but if you're growing a business, hoping to open a ninth, 10th, and so on and create a chain, the net income is what you put into the business to grow the business and move forward. It's half of his net income, according to his estimate and as best as he can estimate, because nobody knows the details of what's actually going to be required until, hopefully, we see it before October 1. It's just frustrating for him. It's frustrating for people. It's frustrating for employees.

A guy stopped me in a store the other day. He just got a job at a retail store. He said, I was promised 40 hours, and I was just told I'm going to be working 29 hours. That's the new class of people working, particularly in retail. He was retired, and he was kind of looking for extra income, and he's going to be a 29er. That's a term that we hear quite a bit.

So dealing with health care is something we absolutely have to deal with but not dealing with it in the way of this bill. They didn't try to cut costs, and it's actually implemented on top of the system even more, which is going to cost more. Employers are really concerned, not about being able to cover their employees, but they're concerned about, Are they going to be able to afford to stay in business and even have employees? That's the concern of most of them whom I hear talk about it.

I'm sure you hear the same. I know our good friend from Texas is now here on the floor, and I'd like to give this back to my friend from North Carolina.

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Mr. GUTHRIE. When we were debating it, the number was always 40 million people uninsured. So we've completely upended the health insurance market and have put all this uncertainty into the economy. I think it's the biggest drag on the economy. Now, we haven't had growth, and we're going to have 31 million uninsured. That's not even by a bipartisan group. That's by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that we're going to have 31 million people uninsured--all of this because we had 40 million uninsured and, after all of this, 31 million uninsured.

So did we get our $1 trillion worth?

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Mr. GUTHRIE. That's a great point that I brought up when we were debating it back in 2009.

What people don't realize, as it didn't get a lot of coverage, Mr. Speaker, is that the Federal Government took over the student loans.

So you're going to hear a lot about student loans in the next few days because after July 1 the student loan rates are going to go up. The House was active. We passed a bill. It's in the Senate. I've heard the President talk about it.

What people need to realize is that when the health care bill passed--as my friend just said, the Federal Government can loan money at a low rate because we can pretty much borrow from ourselves at a low rate. When we loan it to students, they pay a little over 3 percent; and the difference, the flow, comes back to the Federal Government, the profit from loaning to our businesses.

Do you know where $8.7 billion of that is going to? To pay for the health care bill. Instead of taking $8.7 billion and giving it back to students who are struggling with affordability of college--I'm in that world right now because my son is leaving this summer to go off to college and I have a daughter in college. So most of the people that are peers of theirs that I see, we talk about the affordability of college. One of the things that we did is we took money that students are paying back on their student loans to pay for the health care bill. Instead of rebating it back to the students to put it in their pockets to pay for their loans, it goes to the health care bill.

As we hear a lot of people on the other side and in the White House this week talk about health care and that the Senate hasn't passed a bill to deal with student loan interest rates that will go up, I want people to remember, Mr. Speaker, that $8.7 billion of what people are paying back in interest is going to fund the health care bill.

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