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The Doctors Caucus: House of Representatives

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. BLACK. Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a registered nurse who worked in emergency rooms and caring for patients. I also rise as a former member of the Tennessee General Assembly who saw firsthand the devastating effects of TennCare on our State and was a part of the group, of the effort, to dismantle it.

Finally, I rise today as a representative of the Sixth District of Tennessee, where my constituents have told me over and over how they do not want ObamaCare bankrupting our Nation and getting between them and the doctor.

Mr. Speaker, I know that the health care industry, and I know that the new health care law, is not the solution to our problem. Pretty soon, the health care law will be the problem. I know this because for many of us in Tennessee, the President's new health care law is like a bad dream all over again.

And let me tell you what I mean. Tennessee was the pilot project for universal health care and the experiment was called TennCare. Put simply, the experiment failed.

After TennCare passed, we watched the cost grow exponentially, and those of us in the legislature knew that if we did not do something, TennCare was going to bankrupt our State and, much like ObamaCare, the sheer size of TennCare was more than government could handle. The government could not perform all of the functions of the medical insurance industry. Promises of care and access were made, and promises were far beyond what our State could possibly do.

It didn't take long before TennCare became riddled with waste and fraud and abuse. I can remember talking with people who had gone from doctor to doctor and specialist to specialist using TennCare to fill more than 50 prescriptions. Yes, 50 prescriptions is what they would put in front of me and tell me that TennCare was paying for, and it was all on the taxpayer's dime.

TennCare became the monster that even the creators could not control. Today, TennCare is gutted, only available to a small group of people, and Tennessee has been brought back from the brink of bankruptcy.

Last month, Republican Governors wrote to ask the administration to ``waive the bill's costly mandates and grant States the authority to choose benefit rules that meet the specific needs of their citizens.'' The Governors were asking for commonsense solutions like waiving provisions that punished consumer-driven plans like the most popular plan and the cost-effective plan of health care savings accounts. Give the States the ability to do what States can do best, and that is to determine what's best for them.

But the President shows no sign of granting States some flexibility in how they will apply ObamaCare. And only yesterday, President Obama said he is supporting letting the States propose their own health care plans by 2014. However, that would be only if he will not change the mandates for the States in the current law.

So in one side of his speech he says, yes, he will allow some flexibility. On the other side he says, there still must be certain mandates.

Mr. GINGREY of Georgia. If the gentlewoman would yield, it is kind of like you can keep what you like until you can't. That's what we are seeing, and that's why, as I pointed out earlier, that 733 waivers, just this year in 2011, had been grant happened by Secretary Sebelius to try to fulfill that promise, but they can't do it. They can't keep up with it. There is a need for a new waiver every day.

Mrs. BLACK. Dr. Gingrey, as you said, States will still be forced to comply with benefit levels and mandates that are set by Federal bureaucrats, not by the States themselves. That certainly doesn't give States rights.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has already said that if the State were to propose its own plan that they will be forced to provide comprehensive, comprehensive coverage, and that coverage will be defined by government. So much for being able to keep your plan or for the States to make a determination on what plan best suits them.

Now President Obama wants every State to live through its own version of TennCare. With ballooning budgets for each State and no way to curb their health care costs that will cripple the States during a time of already strapped budgets, it's simply unacceptable.

Mr. GINGREY of Georgia. I would say it's unconscionable and unacceptable.

Mrs. BLACK. We averted this disaster in Tennessee by dissolving TennCare and now, as a Member of Congress, I will work to stop this financial and fiscal disaster that ObamaCare will bring to our Nation. This health care law must be replaced, and I believe this House can do it.


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