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Barrasso: Under Obamacare, Americans See Their Premiums Rise

Location: Washington, DC

Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) delivered the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate about how the President's health care law is making health care premiums increase:

"I rise today to talk about the policy changes and choices that have been made in Washington, and how they affect the spending and the well-being of so many people all around this great country.

"There has been a great deal of talk recently about how we can get our out of control Washington spending under control. How can we curb this spending?

"We also need to keep in mind that some of the policies of the Obama Administration have impacted this spending, and how they've created the economic conditions that have forced many of these hard choices to be made by American families.

"Our weak economic recovery is the result of bad policy choices, I believe, that have cost Americans their jobs--and it's cost them dollars, money that they cannot spare.

"The list of the Administration's bad policy choices is long, and in my opinion, right at the top of that list, is the President's health care law.

"Just last week we learned from a GAO study that was requested by Senator Sessions and what we learned from that study is that the President's health care law will add $6.2 trillion to Washington's debt. And of course that's the debt on the backs of every young person in America, future generations. It's a debt upon the entire nation.

"It's also adding to the financial burden in this country.

"Recently, the Obama Administration has now released more rules for how the law will be implemented.

"The new regulations that have just come out lay out something called essential benefits. These are the government mandated items that health care policies will now have to offer.

"Along with other parts of the health care law, these new rules will raise the premiums that American families pay for their health coverage.

"That is not what the American people wanted. That's not what they were promised by the President, and it is not what they need during this difficult economic time.

"Remember, President Obama promised that under his health care plan, that insurance premiums, he said, would go down $2,500 for an average family he said, by the end of his first term. Well that's come and gone, but what the President promised the American people hasn't happened.

"Instead, premiums have gone up by an average of more than $3,000 per family. As more provisions of the law kick in, I can tell you, it's going to get worse.

"As the Obama Administration puts out more regulations, premiums are going to continue to go up and up.

"The American people are in for a serious case of premium sticker shock. This is especially true for young people, people in their 20s. People in their 30s.

"That's not just my prediction, Mr. President, it's the warning we're getting from state officials who actually supported the President's health care law. Of course, they supported it before they knew what was in it.

"The state insurance commissioner in Oregon has said that the new regulations could push up premiums for young consumers by as much as 30 percent next year.

"According to a recent piece in the Los Angeles Times, that was not an accident.

"It was an intentional effect of trying to lower prices for older Americans by raising the prices for younger people.

"In fact, the cost shifting was a top priority of AARP during the debate.

"Now, of course, I believe the Administration wasn't honest about it.

"They didn't come out and tell young people: "Hey , you're going to have to pay a higher premium so someone else pays less.'

"No, Democrats in Congress and the White House tried to say that young people were going to pay lower prices, but now we're seeing it was never true.

"The premium increases are also going to be worse if you don't get insurance through your employer. That's because you may end up in the individual market.

"A recent Gallup poll found that fewer people are getting their insurance through work. Just since 2008, the number has dropped significantly.

"And among people between the ages of 18 and 25 years, only 32 percent now get their health insurance through work.

"Healthier people, people who take the time to focus on staying healthy, they're actually going to pay more too.

"So, if you eat a good diet, you exercise, you do the things that you know, people would be encouraged to do so they don't get sick, well you're going to pay more under the President's health care law.

"According to a new survey of insurance companies, younger and healthier customers can expect premium increases of 169 percent on average in 2014.

"Now, that's in the individual market that more people will find themselves forced into in as their employers drop coverage.

"The Congressional Budget Office says that even when you take into account that the subsidies some of these people will get under the law, premiums will still go up as an average of 10 to 13 percent even after the subsidies are applied.

"Well, if that happens, a family buying coverage on its own may end up paying $2,100 a year more because of the health care law.

"Well you might ask yourself, why are premium going up so fast? Well, it's because of the law's new requirements.

"For one thing, there is something called the essential health benefits. We just got new rules on these from the Administration.

"Those are the specific mandates that require insurance plans to cover a wide range of services.

"For most consumers, it's going to mean a more extensive and a longer list of benefits.

"Now, that might sound like a good thing, but they may be for things the consumers don't want. Doesn't matter, under the law, the consumers have to pay for them. It's still higher costs, much higher costs.

"People can't just get the insurance that they and their family want, that's right for them, and that they can afford.

"No, Mr. President, that's not enough. They must buy Obama Administration--approved health insurance. That's what they have to buy. That's what the law says.

"And its going to be much more expensive than what they might want, they might need, or that they can afford and think is good for them.

"Families are going to have to pay for insurance that covers the whole laundry list of benefits, whether they want them or not.

"Why should the government, Washington, tell a single, 33 year old man he has to pay for ovarian cancer screening?

"Why should someone without children have to pay for a plan that covers pediatric eye exams?

"Even the American Academy of Ophthalmology has said that requirement goes too far.

"They're worried that once insurance has to cover it, that there will be overuse of comprehensive eye exams on children who don't even need them.

"Well, of course that may happen. If it's covered by insurance, people are going to want more of it.

"That drives up health care costs--and health insurance costs go up even more.

"To make matters worse, the law requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to update the list of these benefits every year. These are the benefits that you still may not want. Certainly don't want to be forced to pay for, but you're stuck with them now.

"We all know that this list isn't going to get any shorter, it's going to grow longer -- and costs are going to continue to go up.

"That's what's happened at the state level.

"Health insurance mandates in some states now include everything from circumcisions to breast implant removal--and mandates add anywhere from 10 to 50 percent to the cost of insurance.

"It's no way to run a health care program.

"Consumers should decide what benefits they want, what benefits they think they may need -- not Washington bureaucrats.

"Finally, I'll give just one more example of how the new rules will drive up premiums. This has to do with the new "age rating" rules in the law.

"The age rating limits the amount that premiums can vary between healthy, younger individuals and unhealthy, older consumers.

"This is the most direct way Democrats are taxing the young to pay for everyone else.

"Under the President's health care law, the premium charged for a sicker, older person can't be more than three times what a healthy 21-year-old has to pay.

"So those younger people are going to end up paying more. Rather than pay the higher cost, many younger people will just not purchase insurance at all.

"They'll just pay the law's tax penalty instead. That's because it's still be cheaper than the insurance premiums that have been driven up due to the President's health care law.

"That means that premiums will go up even faster for the people left in the insurance pool, and the whole thing will keep spiraling out of control.

"Now, the White House says that it won't budge on these age rating rules.

"So people in their 20s, and 30s, and early 40s should just prepare themselves now for the premium hikes they're going to see under the President's health care law.

"Those are just a few of the new rules, and just a few of the ways that the health care law continues to raise costs, raise premiums for hardworking Americans.

"You know, it seems to me that the President is still in his campaign mode, so, you know, he won't admit it -- but he's not fooling anybody.

"I recently completed a statewide tour of Wyoming--visited a dozen towns across the state, met with hundreds of people.

"I can tell you Mr. President, in those meetings, people still say the health care law is unworkable, it is unaffordable, and it remains very unpopular.

"The people of Wyoming, like people across the country, knew what they wanted from health care reform.

"They wanted the care that they need, from a doctor they choose, at lower costs.

"What they have gotten are higher premiums, higher taxes, more government control over their personal health care decisions.

"When the new rules were released a week ago, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, "Being sick will no longer keep you, and your family, and your employees from being able to get affordable health coverage.'

"What she could have added was that now the President's own health care law will be the thing that keeps people from getting affordable coverage.

"The law that was passed was the wrong solution, and the wrong way to reform our heath care in this country.

"Hardworking American families can't afford it and Mr. President, they deserve better."

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