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Making Continuing Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I would like to associate myself with the remarks of the Senator from South Dakota, who speaks so eloquently on the major issues facing our Nation, the concerns of people all around the country: their quality of life, the cost of energy, the cost of their health care, the impact of government regulations and rules that make it harder and more expensive for small businesses to add workers to their rolls.


I come to the floor today as a physician, a doctor who has practiced medicine in Wyoming, taking care of families there for about a quarter of a century, to do as I have done week after week since the health care law was passed: to give a doctor's second opinion about the health care law because one of the reasons I got involved in politics was, as a doctor, I have concern for my patients, worried that they were not getting the care they need from the doctor they want at a lower cost, realizing the impacts of costs on the availability of care, the quality of care. So when the health care law was passed, I had great concerns because I felt it was going to end up being bad for patients, bad for the providers--the nurses and doctors who take care of those patients--and terrible for the American taxpayer.

It was interesting that during the discussion of the health care law, Nancy Pelosi, the then-Speaker of the House, said that in terms of the health care law, first you had to pass it before you got to find out what is in it. Well, the law has been passed, and as more and more people are finally finding out what is in it, the law continues to be very unpopular. But it is interesting that when a law is written behind closed doors, passed in the dark of night, when people on the side who voted for it actually never read it, did not understand the implications, that here we are 2 years later with so many people still saying: What is in it?

One of the things I want to visit about today is an editorial in the New York Times from just a couple of weeks ago. It was while I was traveling around the State of Wyoming, visiting with people, visiting with former patients, that an editorial came out with the headline ``A Glitch in Health Care Reform.''

Well, for 2 years I have been coming back to the Senate floor, week after week after week, talking about things that were in this health care law--unintended consequences, things people did not realize were there, did not understand were there, were surprised to find out were there.

So the headline is ``A Glitch in Health Care Reform.'' Right under that, the subheadline is ``Millions of middle-class Americans could be left without affordable coverage.'' And then my favorite line, the first line, the first paragraph:

Confusing language in the health care reform law has raised the possibility that millions of Americans living on modest incomes may be unable to afford their employers' family policies and yet fail to qualify for government subsidies to buy their own insurance.

Confusing language. That is what happens when a law is written behind closed doors, not read by the people who voted for it, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America says: First, you have to pass it before you get to find out what is in it. And this is an editorial in the New York Times 2 years after the health care bill has been signed into law: Confusing language. ``A glitch in health care reform. Millions of middle-class Americans could be left without coverage.''

So it is not a surprise that I will continue to come to the floor with a doctor's second opinion because we will continue to find where confusing language leaves people confused.

Now, one of the areas that is so often discussed on the Senate floor is the Congressional Budget Office. Well, they came out today with a new report. It talks about the health care law. No surprise. They said they got it wrong a couple of years ago. They have relooked at the numbers. This is the Congressional Budget Office that is supposed to be an expert on making some assumptions and making some suggestions and some predictions. Today they came out with a report called ``Payments of Penalties for Being Uninsured Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.''

Now, let's go back. Payments of penalties for being uninsured. Well, this is a health care law that reaches into every home in America and says: You must buy a government-approved product. You must have health insurance. Not enough money to pay for doctors to care for patients but plenty of money for IRS agents to investigate the American people.

What does it say when we go through the report? They said, well, they thought there would be about 4 million people who would have to pay penalties for being uninsured under the health care law. Well, they were only wrong, they say, by 50 percent. They were off by 50 percent; not 4 million but 6 million Americans will be penalized and have to pay taxes under the health care law which the Supreme Court found to be constitutional.

Well, it may not be unconstitutional, but it is still unworkable, very unaffordable, and very unpopular. So I come to the floor week after week as new reports continue to come out saying CBO was wrong. The New York Times, talking about ``confusing language.''

You know, I would say James Madison, the father of the Constitution, had it right when he said:

You should pass no laws so voluminous they cannot be read, so incoherent they cannot be understood.

But that is what Democrats in the House and the Senate did when they passed and when the President signed the health care law.

Now, another report has just come out within the last couple of days. I recall the President, when he was talking about the health care law, said computerizing medical records would cut waste and eliminate redtape. Now what does the report say? Well, it says the amount of paperwork, the amount of manhours put into just complying with the rules and the regulations they have come up with--they are predicting--and I will get into those who have done the predictions--that businesses and families will end up spending 80 million--80 million--hours a year on paperwork trying to comply with this health care law.

Former Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Fred Goldberg said the current form of the Obama health care law ``will be a needless administrative and compliance quagmire for millions of Americans.'' The Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives under committee chairman DAVID CAMP found that more than half of those 80 million manhours will be consumed by small businesses. That is the group that can least afford to have to spend this kind of time, this kind of manpower. Talk about productive work and nonproductive work, this goes into the category of nonproductive work. So they are either going to hire more people to just do paperwork or take people from doing productive work and move them onto the nonproductive side.

They are talking about 40,000 full-time people working the number of hours they would work to get this 80 million manhours of work. It is wasteful. It creates no wealth overall to the economy. It is not a productive activity. So those are the things we see week after week.

Then, finally, last week there was a group of franchise owners who were traveling around visiting with Members on Capitol Hill about the impact of the health care law on them and on their small businesses. They want to hire people. They want to get people to work. We know under the President's economy, there are 23 million Americans who are either unemployed or underemployed, people looking for work, looking for better work, looking for more hours.

But let's look at the incentives as well as the consequences that are included in the health care law. Well, these small franchise owners will tell you that in order to try to comply with the law and not be driven out of business because of the expense of the penalties and the high level of insurance they would have to provide to their workers, they only have a couple of choices.

One of the choices--they do not like it, but one of the choices is to cut the number of hours an employee works because then they are a part-time employee. Then they do not have to receive the benefits of the mandate, of the health care law. That is not what they want to do. It is not what the employees want. They want to work more hours. But the consequences of what the Democrats in this institution have passed, the consequences are that people who want to work more are going to lose that opportunity.

The other thing they are looking at is saying, well, just drop paying for insurance at all and pay the fine. Pay the penalty because the consequences and the incentives are such that the fine is, from a business standpoint, the path to follow rather than to provide the high level of insurance the President mandates. It may be a lot more insurance than people want or need or that the businesses can afford.

So I will continue to come back to the floor to talk about the President's broken promises. He said: If you like what you have, you can keep it. We now know people who like their health insurance are not going to be able to keep it. He said the insurance rates would drop by about $2,500 per family per year. We have seen the rates have gone up more than $3,000 a year instead of dropping $2,500 a year.

The promises are many. The realities are quite different than what the President has promised. That is why the American people continue to find the health care law unpopular. It is why our seniors who have seen 700 billion of their Medicare dollars taken away from them, not to save Medicare but to start a whole other government program for others, that is why they know it is going to be harder to find a physician to take care of them, especially if their physician retires or if they move to a new location.

That is why I will continue to come back to the floor to continue to talk about trying to help people get the care they need from the doctor they choose at a lower cost. This health care law is bad for patients. It is bad for providers, nurses, and doctors who take care of those patients. It is terrible for the American taxpayers. That is why I believe we need to repeal and replace this broken health care law.

I yield the floor.


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