Proceedings, Debates of the U.S. Congress
(Senate - November 30, 2016)
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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 171 (Wednesday, November 30, 2016)] [Pages S6597-S6598] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] OBAMACARE Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, Democrats in Washington continue to try to understand the results of the election. I have heard them blame Republicans, I have heard them blame Russian hackers, I have heard them blame the FBI, and I have even heard them blame the press. What I have not heard is a single Washington Democrat admit that one reason Democrats lost on November 8 could be their disastrous health care law. Well, the health care law has definitely been on the minds of the voters. On October 31, just 1 week before election day, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had an article with the headline, ``Rates for Obamacare Plans Jump in Wisconsin.'' This article said that tens of thousands of middle-class people in Wisconsin who don't qualify for Washington subsidies ``will pay the full cost of double-digit premium increases.'' The article quoted one insurance broker, saying: I've talked with people who are exasperated. They are just at wit's end. That is what the insurance broker said. It is not just the price increases. In at least five States, there is only one company selling plans on the ObamaCare exchange. My State of Wyoming is one of those. People are being told their plan will no longer include their doctor or maybe even a hospital near where they live. The average deductible for a silver plan next year is going to be almost $3,600. There is damage that ObamaCare is doing to American families right now. People are seeing it. That article was in a Wisconsin newspaper, a State in which, apparently--according to the polls--Donald Trump was running behind, Ron Johnson was running behind, but both of them carried the State handedly. Here we have an election where people expressed their opinion, and the Democrats seem to want to deny the main reason for it. The American people have placed their faith now in Republicans, and we, in turn, earned that trust. We will do it through both Executive action and legislative action with regard to the health care law. First, President Trump will have a great opportunity to start making things better for the American people by changing some of the regulations that are a huge part of the health care law. Remember, this health care law is 2,700 pages long, and within those 2,700 pages there are more than 1,800 places where the law gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services the power to write different rules and different regulations and different requirements to try to spell out what the 2,700-page law says. The Obama administration absolutely abused that power. The administration added more than 40,000 pages--40,000 pages of regulations and of redtape that were never actually in the law itself. In the Trump administration, there is going to be a new Secretary of Health and Human Services. He is a physician--an orthopedic surgeon. Once confirmed, I believe he will be able to interpret, reinterpret, and then reapply the law in ways that actually help American families instead of so many ways that hurt American families because the interpretation in the past favored Big Government over people. This includes applying the law to make it easier for businesses to provide insurance to people who work for them. It means giving power back to the States to come up with ideas that work for all of the citizens. The nominated Secretary of Health and Human Services is not just a doctor, but he also served in the State legislature, and he knows that at the State level you can make much better decisions for the people of that State than when Washington comes up with a one-size- fits-all decision. Republicans want to make sure the power goes back to where it belongs--with the people, the families, and the States. That is where it belongs. The Executive action can start pretty quickly, and it can be abridged to the important work that the Congress is going to have to do. We are going to work hard in the Senate and in the House to undo some of the damage--significant amounts of the damage--that ObamaCare has caused. It is undoing the damage because people all around this country have suffered under this health care law. It means repealing the health care law and wiping the slate clean. ObamaCare can't be fixed by tinkering with it here and there--not with another attempted bailout of the insurance companies, which the President has continued to promote. This solution isn't to add more government on top of what we already have. The health care law began collapsing a long time ago, and Republicans are now ready to clear away the rubble. Then, we will write a new law with a multiple step-by-step process--a law that reforms America's broken health care insurance system so patients can get the care they need from a doctor they choose at lower costs--one that puts American families in control of their health care and a law that is simpler, fairer, more effective, and more accountable. We have seen the mistakes that the Democrats have made with the health care law. We have seen that every State is different. So we are going to be looking to push as much authority out of Washington and back to the States. We have seen that too many mandates and regulations drive up costs, and they drive up the costs without improving the quality of care. We have seen that when Washington writes bad laws, the unintended consequences are severe. These are all things that Republicans have said since the very beginning. The failure of ObamaCare has proven that the Republicans were right. The election has proven that the American people want a new approach. American families don't want us to tinker with ObamaCare. They just want affordable health care. I want to make a couple of things clear. First of all, nobody is talking about taking people off of insurance without a replacement plan in place. We all understand that there needs to be a transition over time. People have already been hurt too much when they lost their insurance, when their rates went up because of ObamaCare, and with the mandates and the government saying they know better than families across the country. We will be working to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone. That is why we are including a transition period in a repeal bill that Congress passed last year and sent to the President's desk. The President, of course, vetoed it. Our goal is to do no harm. As we write a new health care law, we will be looking to make it real reform that is actually centered on patients. We can increase the use of health savings accounts. That will give more people the chance to control how they spend their own money on their health care. We can support innovative insurance plans that pay for prescription drugs that work best for patients and not just the ones preferred by insurance companies. We will be talking about ways to protect people with preexisting conditions and letting young people stay on their parents' insurance. These are important parts of the health care law. Republicans are going to consider any ideas--any ideas that can help us to give people what they wanted all along--access to the care they need from a doctor they choose at lower cost. Democrats promised that they would listen to other people's ideas, and then they went behind a closed door in an office back there and they wrote the law, ignoring all of the suggestions by Republicans and without any Republican support at all. We are not going to make that mistake. We will be looking for Democrats' help. We will be looking for Democrats to work with. We will be listening to Democrats' ideas, and we will be working very hard to win Democratic votes for any new law. Reforming health care in this country is not going to be easy. It is not [[Page S6598]] something we are going to do for the purpose of scoring political points or to discredit President Obama. I will tell you, as a doctor, that it is something we must do to protect American families and their health, as well as their health care. I suggest the absence of a quorum. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll. The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll. Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. ____________________