OBAMACARE; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 171
(Senate - November 30, 2016)

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[Pages S6597-S6598]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  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 
  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 

[[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.