Mr. JOHANNS. Madam President, today I rise to speak on behalf of the Cruz amendment. I want to spend a couple of minutes explaining my thoughts behind the amendment and why I am proud to be a cosponsor of this amendment.
All across Nebraska I do roundtable meetings, where I sit down with hospital communities, I sit down with medical professionals, I sit down with small businesses. I have done this for years and years.
Over the last couple of years since the Affordable Care Act was passed, I have had a number of opportunities to sit down with small businesses. Invariably the first issue that comes up is the crushing effect of the regulatory environment. Businesses will tell me they simply are afraid to grow or cannot grow because of what Washington is burdening them with. More specifically, they talk to me about the Affordable Care Act and the toll it is taking on their businesses.
I will give you a perfect example: a small business, a franchise business. They have a franchise in Lincoln, they have a franchise in Omaha. The owner of that business said to me: You know, my business is not too bad. We could actually grow this business. We look out there in the future and see some opportunities to grow this business.
They went on to say: We have about 48 employees now, and we are not going to grow. I said: Why would that be? Why have you decided you are not going to grow this business? Their answer was straightforward. They said: When we grow to over 50 employees, we become subject to the requirements that are impossible for a business our size to meet under the Affordable Care Act. The owner said to me: Mike, I met with the accountants and the lawyers. We have looked at this in every possible way we can, and we decided we are going to stay a business of this size.
It was not isolated to that business. I went down the interstate and sat down with another business in a different community and the story was the same. I was told business was pretty good and that business was there for them to grow. They had about 47 or 48 employees, and they made the decision they will not grow. This is at a time in our Nation's history where we are desperate for employment in the United States.
In Nebraska, we have been fortunate. We pay our bills. Our unemployment never got over 5 percent because we are a conservative State. Having said that, when we hear businesses say the greatest impediment to their growth is not the competition down the street or across the street, the greatest impediment to their growth is the Federal Government, when we hear that, we have to realize we have done something very seriously wrong.
I want to wrap up with another thought, and it is on a different area of the Affordable Care Act.
Madam President, I ask for an additional minute to finish this thought.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. JOHANNS. Madam President, I met with a group of young people today. They have their whole lives in front of them. They are talking and thinking about what they are going to do in terms of going to college and what their careers might be. They asked me about the Affordable Care Act. I said: One of the things that is important to point out is that my generation is going to do very well under this act. We have caps on how much our premiums can go up, and we have Medicare out there. Then I said: Your generation is not going to do well. Why? Because your premiums are going to go straight up and you are at a point in your lives where you are not going to use a lot of health care. I am at a point in my life where I will use a lot of health care.
This imbalance is going to be devastating to the younger generation. When they start thinking about starting their families, buying their first home and making an investment, what is the Federal Government going to do? It is going to place a crushing blow upon them in terms of higher premiums, and that is the reality of the situation.
I will wrap up with this thought; I could go on and on. As a former Governor, I can tell everyone that adding 24 million people to Medicaid is such a flawed policy approach. I could talk about the impact this is going to have on accessibility for care by people who desperately need that care, but the bottom line is this: This was a flawed policy. I was here when it was passed. It is a policy that needs to be defunded. We need to do the right thing with health care, and this is not it.