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Statements On Introduced Bills And Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. President, I am introducing the Empowering Patients First Act, companion legislation to H.R. 2300, introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Tom Price. I thank Congressman Price for all the hard work he did on this legislation. I am very grateful for that.

I believe this legislation would give patients, families, and doctors the power to make medical decisions, and not Washington.

Specifically, this legislation would enable everyone to purchase health insurance through deductions, credits, or advanceable credits; equalize tax treatment of employer-sponsored plans and plans purchased by individuals by letting individuals buy health insurance with pre-tax dollars; let small business owners band together across State lines through association health plans, known as AHPs, and take advantage of the increased purchasing power which larger businesses are able to take advantage of through increased bargaining power, volume discounts, and administrative efficiencies. It would let consumers buy insurance across State lines, and let individuals own their insurance like a 401(k) plan so they can take it with them across State lines if they change jobs.

I don't think there is any doubt in the majority of Americans' minds--and poll after poll indicates--that ObamaCare is a failure. The American people do not believe in it. And it isn't just the problems with the rollout of the Web site--it is all of the aspects of it which have become so complex and so difficult.

Basically, it is as some of us who fought it day after day here on the floor said: an experiment in social engineering, where young people who are healthy are going to pay for the health care of those who are older and sicker--a redistribution of wealth that then-Senator Obama favored and stated when he was running for President.

That is not the way to address health care needs in America. It has not bent the health care curve down. It has not allowed people, if they want to keep their insurance, to be able to keep it. I noticed that was voted as the biggest lie of the year by one of the periodicals here. And it is a failure.

We on the other side of this issue are also required to come up with alternatives, because we vowed to repeal and replace ObamaCare, not just repeal it.

I believe that what Congressman Price has introduced, and what I am introducing today as a companion bill, is a step in that direction.

It is time that we on this side of the aisle came up with our agenda for health care in America because we know that the inflation associated with health care costs is unsustainable, that there are millions of Americans who do not have health care, and there is a particular problem for those with preexisting conditions.

We need to repeal this horrendous mistake--which, by the way, was done on strictly party line votes, the first entitlement program ever enacted that was done without a single bipartisan vote on it. As many of us predicted back in 2009 when this legislation was passed, it was doomed to failure. Time after time, amendment after amendment, as we attempted to repeal it for 25 days, I believe it was, of floor consideration back in 2009, it was voted down on a party line basis.

They sowed the wind and are now reaping the whirlwind. We need to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and we need to replace it because health care in America is still not satisfactory, nor have we fulfilled the needs and the obligations we have to all of our citizens.

The problems with the Affordable Care Act are well known: A failed Web site rollout that has hindered enrollment and the purchase of mandated coverage. As of December 17, only an estimated 440,835 people have enrolled for a health plan. That is 6.2 percent of the enrollment goal of 7 million by March 31, 2014.

There is a destructive tax on medical devices that will discourage innovation and encourage these businesses to move offshore. We have already seen medical device manufacturers leaving the United States of America as they said they would if they were taxed to the point where they could not be competitive with medical devices that were manufactured in foreign countries.

There is disappointment for Americans who are happy with their current coverage and want to keep their coverage. It is estimated that 10 million Americans will have their health plans terminated due to ObamaCare.

According to a December 17 Washington Post-ABC poll, only 19 percent of Americans believe ObamaCare is improving the country's health care system. Only 8 percent believe ObamaCare is improving their insurance coverage. Only 5 percent of Americans believe their health care costs are decreasing as a result of ObamaCare, and 47 percent of Americans believe the President's health care law is increasing the cost of their health care.

It is clear that ObamaCare is not working for the American people, and they have little faith in the administration's efforts to fix our broken health care system.

This legislation I am introducing today makes the purchase of health care financially feasible for all Americans--from deductions to advanceable, refundable credits so that everyone has an economic incentive to purchase coverage they want for themselves and their families, not what the government forces them to buy. In addition, it allows greater choices in portability, so that every health policy is owned by the patient, regardless of who pays. This means the coverage would go with the person if they change or lose their job. It gives employers more flexibility in the benefits offered and provides many more coverage options for people with preexisting conditions so that no one is priced out of the market, regardless of health status.

It addresses increasing costs by clamping down on abusive lawsuits, ends the practice of defensive medicine, gains significant savings from health care efficiencies--sifting out waste, fraud, and abuse--and bringing our Nation's budget under control.

Finally, it establishes doctor-led quality measures, ensuring that patients receive quality care defined by people who know medicine, not by government. It encourages healthier lifestyles by giving employers and health policies more flexibility to offer discounts for healthy habits through wellness and prevention programs.

If enacted, this legislation would save trillions of dollars. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who is the former director of the Congressional Budget Office and one of the most credible people in this town, estimates this legislation would save American tax payers $2.37 trillion in its first decade alone. According to the analysis of Mr. Holtz-Eakin, compared to current law this legislation would produce smaller premium increases on average, yielding lower premiums than current law--nearly 19 percent for single policies and up to 15 percent for family policies; increase patient access to physicians; produce a 10-percent increase in medical productivity; and increase the number of insured individuals by 29 percent.

Americans are looking for an alternative to ObamaCare. This legislation is a step in the right direction and will provide Americans an alternative that empowers patients, families, and doctors to make the medical decisions, not those in Washington, DC.

I find of interest in the Wall Street Journal an opinion piece entitled ``ObamaCare's Troubles Are Only Beginning,'' by Michael Boskin, a very well respected economist. It says:

Be prepared for eligibility, payment and information protection debacles--and longer waits for care.

He says:

The shocks--economic and political--will get much worse next year and beyond. Here's why: The ``sticker shock'' that many buyers of new, ACA-compliant health plans have experienced--with premiums 30% higher, or more, than their previous coverage--has only begun. The costs borne by individuals will be even more obvious next year as more people start having to pay higher deductibles and copays.

If, as many predict, too few healthy young people sign up for insurance that is overpriced in order to subsidize older, sicker people, the insurance market will unravel in a ``death spiral'' of ever-higher premiums and fewer signups. The government, through taxpayer-funded ``risk corridors,'' is on the hook for billions of dollars of potential insurance-company losses. This will be about as politically popular as bank bailouts.

The ``I can't keep my doctor'' shock will also hit more and more people in coming months. To keep prices to consumers as low as possible--given cost pressures generated by the government's rules, controls and coverage mandates--insurance companies in many cases are offering plans that have very restrictive networks, with lower-cost providers that exclude some of the best physicians and hospitals.

Finally, there is an article entitled ``Second wave of health care plan cancellations looms.'' It goes on to say:

An analysis by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, shows the administration anticipates half to two-thirds of small businesses would have policies canceled or be compelled to send workers into the ObamaCare exchanges. They predict up to 100 million small and large business policies could be canceled next year.

I ask unanimous consent these articles be printed in the Record.

It is time for us to begin to consider alternatives and recognize that this legislation needs to be repaired and replaced.

I yield the floor.

ObamaCare's Troubles Are Only Beginning

BE PREPARED FOR ELIGIBILITY, PAYMENT AND INFORMATION PROTECTION DEBACLES--AND LONGER WAITS FOR CARE.

(By Michael J. Boskin)
The White House is claiming that the Healthcare.gov website is mostly fixed, that the millions of Americans whose health plans were canceled thanks to government rules may be able to keep them for another year, and that in any event these people will get better plans through ObamaCare exchanges. Whatever the truth of these assertions, those who expect better days ahead for the Affordable Care Act are in for a rude awakening. The shocks--economic and political--will get much worse next year and beyond. Here's why:

The ``sticker shock'' that many buyers of new, ACA-compliant health plans have experienced--with premiums 30% higher, or more, than their previous coverage--has only begun. The costs borne by individuals will be even more obvious next year as more people start having to pay higher deductibles and copays.

If, as many predict, too few healthy young people sign up for insurance that is overpriced in order to subsidize older, sicker people, the insurance market will unravel in a ``death spiral'' of ever-higher premiums and fewer signups. The government, through taxpayer-funded ``risk corridors,'' is on the hook for billions of dollars of potential insurance-company losses. This will be about as politically popular as bank bailouts.

The ``I can't keep my doctor'' shock will also hit more and more people in coming months. To keep prices to consumers as low as possible--given cost pressures generated by the government's rules, controls and coverage mandates--insurance companies in many cases are offering plans that have very restrictive networks, with lower-cost providers that exclude some of the best physicians and hospitals.

Next year, millions must choose among unfamiliar physicians and hospitals, or paying more for preferred providers who are not part of their insurance network. Some health outcomes will deteriorate from a less familiar doctor-patient relationship.

More IT failures are likely. People looking for health plans on ObamaCare exchanges may be able to fill out their applications with more ease. But the far more complex back-office side of the webssite--where the information in their application is checked against government databases to determine the premium subsidies and prices they will be charged, and where the applications are forwarded to insurance companies--is still under construction. Be prepared for eligibility, coverage gap, billing, claims, insurer payment and patient information-protection debacles.

The next shock will come when the scores of millions outside the individual market--people who are covered by employers, in union plans, or on Medicare and Medicaid--experience the downsides of ObamaCare. There will be longer waits for hospital visits, doctors' appointments and specialist treatment, as more people crowd fewer providers.

Those with means can respond to the government-driven waiting lines by making side payments to providers or seeking care through doctors who do not participate in insurance plans. But this will be difficult for most people.

Next, the Congressional Budget Office's estimated 25% expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare will exert pressure on state Medicaid spending (although the pressure will be delayed for a few years by federal subsidies). This pressure on state budgets means less money on education and transportation, and higher state taxes.

The ``Cadillac tax'' on health plans to help pay for ObamaCare starts four years from this Jan. 1. It will fall heavily on unions whose plans are expensive due to generous health benefits.

In the nearer term, a political iceberg looms next year. Insurance companies usually submit proposed pricing to regulators in the summer, and the open enrollment period begins in the fall for plans starting Jan. 1. Businesses of all sizes that currently provide health care will have to offer ObamaCare's expensive, mandated benefits, or drop their plans and--except the smallest firms--pay a fine. Tens of millions of Americans with employer-provided health plans risk paying more for less, and losing their policies and doctors to more restrictive networks. The administration is desperately trying to delay employer-plan problems beyond the 2014 election to avoid this shock.

Meanwhile, ObamaCare will lead to more part-time workers in some industries, as hours are cut back to conform to arbitrary definitions in the law of what constitutes full-time employment. Many small businesses will be cautious about hiring more than 50 full-time employees, which would subject them to the law's employer insurance mandate.

On the supply side, medicine will become a far less attractive career for talented young people. More doctors will restrict practice or retire early rather than accept lower incomes and work conditions they did not anticipate. Already, many practices are closed to Medicaid recipients, some also to Medicare. The pace of innovation in drugs, medical devices and delivery is expected to slow significantly, as higher taxes and even rationing set in.

The repeated assertions by the law's supporters that nobody but the rich would be worse off was based on a beyond-implausible claim that one could expand by millions the number of people with health insurance, lower health-care costs without rationing, and improve quality. The reality is that any squeezing of insurance-company profits, or reduction in uncompensated emergency-room care amounts to a tiny fraction of the trillions of dollars extracted from those people overpaying for insurance, or redistributed from taxpayers.

The Affordable Care Act's disastrous debut sent the president's approval ratings into a tailspin and congressional Democrats in competitive districts fleeing for cover. If the law's continuing unpopularity enables Republicans to regain the Senate in 2014, the president will be forced to veto repeated attempts to repeal the law or to negotiate major changes.

The risk of a complete repeal if a Republican takes the White House in 2016 will put enormous pressure on Democratic candidates--and on Republicans--to articulate a compelling alternative to the cost and coverage problems that beset health care. A good start would be sliding-scale subsidies to help people buy a low-cost catastrophic plan, purchasable across state lines, equalized tax treatment of those buying insurance on their own with those on employer plans, and expanded high-risk pools.

--
[From FoxNews, Nov. 20, 2013]
Second Wave of Health Plan Cancellations Looms

A new and independent analysis of ObamaCare warns of a ticking time bomb, predicting a second wave of 50 million to 100 million insurance policy cancellations next fall--right before the mid-term elections.

The next round of cancellations and premium hikes is expected to hit employees, particularly of small businesses. While the administration has tried to downplay the cancellation notices hitting policyholders on the individual market by noting they represent a relatively small fraction of the population, the swath of people who will be affected by the shakeup in employer-sponsored coverage will be much broader.

An analysis by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, shows the administration anticipates half to two-thirds of small businesses would have policies canceled or be compelled to send workers onto the ObamaCare exchanges. They predict up to 100 million small and large business policies could be canceled next year.

``The impact I'm mostly worried about is on small young, entrepreneurial firms that will suddenly face much higher health insurance premiums if they want to offer health insurance to their employees,'' said AEI resident scholar Stan Veuger. ``I think for a lot of other businesses ..... they can just send their employees to the exchanges or offer them a fixed subsidy every month to buy health insurance themselves.''

Under the health care law, businesses with fewer than 50 workers do not have to provide health coverage. But if they do, the policies will still have to meet the benefit standards set by ObamaCare.

As reported by AEI's Scott Gottlieb, some businesses got around this by renewing their policies before the end of 2013. But the relief is temporary, and they are expected to have to offer in-compliance plans for 2015. According to Gottlieb, that means beginning in October 2014 the cancellation notices will start to go out.

Then, businesses will have to either find a new plan--which could be considerably more expensive--or send workers onto the ObamaCare exchanges.

For workers, their experience could mirror that of the 5 million or so on the individual market who already received cancellation notices because their plans did not meet new standards under the Affordable Care Act.

President Obama announced last week that insurance companies could offer out-of-compliance plans for another year. But that only means the cancellation notices will resume late next year.

Obama met Wednesday with state insurance commissioners about the change. In a statement afterward, National Association of Insurance Commissioners President Jim Donelon voiced concern with the change but said: ``We will work with the insurance companies in our states to implement changes that make sense while following our mandate of consumer protection.''

The business community has already been hit with another side effect from ObamaCare. Because the law will require businesses with more than 50 full-time workers to offer health coverage, there are reports that companies are shifting employees to part-time status to avoid hitting the threshold.

Though the administration describes these accounts as anecdotal--and has already delayed the employer mandate by a year--studies suggest otherwise.

The International Franchise Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have studied the impact and say the president's health care law has resulted in higher costs and fewer full-time positions.

A survey showed 31 percent of franchise businesses, and 12 percent of non-franchise businesses, have already reduced worker hours. It also showed 27 percent of franchise businesses, and 12 percent of non-franchise businesses, have replaced full-time workers with part-time employees.


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