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Public Statements

Health Care

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, tomorrow President Obama is scheduled to sit down for an interview with a health care Web site called WebMD. The President will take questions about his health care law, and he is going to try one more time to convince people across the country that his health care law hasn't really been a complete disaster.

It is a little bit ironic that the President will be doing this interview because under his health care law, before we know it, is going to be linking directly to WebMD. People are going to have to spend a lot more time on Web sites like that one because the President's health care law is going to make it tougher for many of them to see a real health care provider.

America is facing a looming shortage of doctors, nurses, and physician assistants. When President Obama and Democrats were ramming ObamaCare through this Congress, they focused on hiring IRS agents--agents to force Americans to buy expensive coverage--instead of training more doctors and nurses to deliver care to patients.

Now, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, we are looking at a shortage of 90,000 physicians by the end of this decade. About half of those are family physicians, primary care providers, and about half of them specialists. We see the same numbers, if not even higher shortages, in terms of nurses.

There is an old proverb: ``Physician, heal thyself.'' Well, apparently the slogan of ObamaCare is now going to be ``Patient, heal thyself.''

The old doctor-patient relationship is going to be gone. Medicine as we know it is going to continue to change. Even when you can get time with your doctor, there is going to be a lot more of that time spent with the doctor looking not at you but at a computer screen because of the law, and that is because of the burdensome new rules and the recordkeeping requirements under the law.

As more people try to get appointments with fewer doctors, some Americans are going to start seeing actual rationing of care. Here is how one economist described it in a blog post for the New York Times. He talked about the health care law's limits on payments to doctors and other providers, and he wrote:

If patients are lucky, the demand for doctors will be low enough that the limits will not matter. But if the new law results in a significant net increase in physician demand, the payment limits will help remind us of Soviet-era limits on the price of bread, with queues and black markets to follow.

We know the President's Web site back this past fall was a complete failure. Four days before it was unveiled the President said: Oh, it is going to be easier to use than Amazon. The rates will be cheaper than your cell phone bill. You will be able to keep your doctor.

But the Web site was just the tip of the iceberg. People are seeing higher premiums.

It is interesting, Mr. President, as I was putting this together and thinking about what remarks I would make, I hadn't even seen this morning's newspaper. Today in the Wall Street Journal--Thursday, March 13--Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius says: Higher premiums likely in 2015.

Higher premiums. What did the President promise? He said premiums would go down by $2,500 per family.

So the Web site is just the tip of the iceberg. People are seeing higher premiums now, and now the Secretary of HHS says there will be higher premiums again in 2015.

People have received notices of cancellation--over 5 million across the country. Many people can't keep their doctor and are worried about fraud and identity theft which has been reported as a result of the Web site and is ongoing. Then, of course, there are higher copays and higher deductibles--more money out of patients' pockets.

There is a report which brings this additionally to the fore in terms of concerns the people are having from people who supported the health care law originally. This report was put out last week by a major labor union discussing how badly this health care law is hurting its members.

To put this into perspective, this is a labor union which actually supported then-Senator Obama and endorsed him when he was running for President a number of years ago, and they supported the health care law. Now this union has come out with a report which says: The law's unintended consequences will hit the average hard-working American where it hurts--in the wallet.

We can go through this report called ``The Irony of ObamaCare Making Inequality Worse.'' To read from this:

The ACA threatens the middle class with higher premiums, loss of hours, and a shift to part-time work and less comprehensive coverage.

It goes on with examples of various individuals who are members of this labor union whose lives are being hurt by the President's health care law. One, a woman from the majority leader's home State, talks about her job as a housekeeper and how, if she tries to buy the Obama health care program, the Web site says she would have to pay $8,057 a year more to keep the insurance she has now--which is a $3.87 per hour pay cut for her. She said, ``We work hard for our insurance. Why should we have to take a cut in pay for it?''

This is not what the President promised. So it is not a surprise that even the unions that had endorsed the President and supported the law are unhappy with what they see as the true results of the health care law.

The Democrat majority leader has said all the horror stories about the health care law are untrue. Is he also saying these union leaders and the people who have been made reference to in the union report are lying? Is this what the majority leader is saying? Is that what he is saying about this woman from his own State?

According to the media report, the union said the law ``will inevitably lead to the destruction of the health care plans we were promised we could keep.''

Everybody remembers the President's promises. They remember what the President said. Everybody remembers the President's statement: ``If you like what you have, you can keep it.'' The press has called it ``The Lie of the Year.''

More than 5 million Americans received cancellation letters from their insurance companies. It turned out to be so embarrassing that President Obama had to delay the rules which caused it. It has continued to be a big problem, so the administration is delaying the rule again--not just until after the 2014 election but with the potential of going beyond the 2016 election as well.

Here we go, dozens of delays. This is a calendar of 2013 and 2014. There are more delays to come--another delay, another lawless ObamaCare rewrite.

The Obama administration continues to announce delays. We have seen one change after another to major parts of the law which are now ``politically inconvenient'' for the President.

Republicans warned that these were real problems and that they would hurt hardworking Americans all across the country. I was on the floor during all of the debates, talking about the problems to come with the health care law, offering solutions, offering suggestions--every one of them rejected because Democrats just didn't care.

They only cared the second they realized that all their grandiose plans were actually causing more problems than they ever anticipated because they didn't listen.

The President had an event last week where he said that the law is ``working the way it should.'' This is what he said--``working the way it should.'' Is it working the way it should after he made all of these changes? Is that what he means--``working the way it should.''

So if it is working the way it should, why has the President had to change it so many times? Does he not know what the rest of his administration is doing? Does he not know what the rest of this country is seeing? Is the President delusional or is he just in denial?

The American people want to know, and they deserve to hear from the President when he does this WebMD interview. When President Obama sits down to talk with WebMD on Friday, I hope they ask him about all of these delays and the changes he is making to the law. I hope they ask him whether he believes it is really working the way it should, which is what he said last week. I hope they ask him about how his health care law is going to reduce the time people get to spend with their doctors--if they can even keep their doctors. I hope they ask him about some of the ways the law is hurting Americans and America.

I hope the President answers that he is finally ready to make some of these delays permanent, to start over again, to work in a bipartisan way, to try to help patients get the care they need from a doctor they choose at a lower cost. This is what health care reform was supposed to be about in the first place.

It is so interesting. Just pick up the papers. Yesterday, March 12, the Washington Post: ``Health Exchange Signups Slowed in Past Month.'' The New York Times: ``Health Care Enrollment Falls Short of Goal, With Deadline Approaching. Signing Up for Insurance, But Well Below Targets.''

Then, so many questions are asked of the White House and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The headline in Politico today: ``W.H. Playing Dumb on ACA Enrollments, Insurers Say.''

I think the President needs to come clean with the American people and tell them about what a disaster his health care law has become, how it has impacted their lives, how few people have actually been able to sign up--or have been able to but have found the cost is too high for them to sign up--and admit to the American people that when they talk about some of these numbers of sign-ups, many of those are people who got cancellation notices. They are not newly-insured individuals.

A study out last week shows that only about one in four people who have actually signed up on the Web site didn't have insurance before. So the people this was intended to help are not being helped. Many people are being harmed.

It is time to work together to help patients get the care they need from the doctor they choose at lower costs.

Mr. President, I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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