HEALTHCARE LEGISLATION; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 79
(Senate - May 08, 2017)

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From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                         HEALTHCARE LEGISLATION

  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, it has been said that nothing is certain 
but death and taxes. To that, nowadays, we might add bad news about 
ObamaCare because if there is one thing we can count on, it is bad news 
about this fatally flawed law--high premium costs, huge deductibles, 
customers losing health plans, customers losing doctors, fewer choices, 
failed co-ops, unraveling exchanges, and I could go on.
  There is no question that our healthcare system had problems before 
ObamaCare was passed. Clearly reforms were needed. But as the past 7 
years have made clear, ObamaCare was not the answer, and this law is 
rapidly collapsing under its own weight.
  Here is a sampling of recent ObamaCare headlines.
  This is from Bloomberg: ``Thousands of ObamaCare Customers Left 
Without Options as Insurers Bolt.''
  This is from CNBC: ``Aetna will exit ObamaCare markets in Virginia in 
2018, citing expected losses on individual plans this year.''
  From the Arizona Republic: ``Consumers seek relief as `ObamaCare' 
rates rise.''
  From USA TODAY: ``Iowa may be without individual health plans if 
insurer pulls out.''
  In February of this year, Mark Bertolini, the CEO of health insurance 
company Aetna, asserted that ObamaCare is in a death spiral. There is 
good reason to think he is right in that significant losses are driving 
health insurers out of the exchanges. Last year, Aetna announced that 
it would withdraw from 11 of the 15 States in which it offered exchange 
plans, Humana said it would exit several exchanges, and mega-insurer 
UnitedHealthcare announced that it was pulling out of most of the 34 
States in which it offered exchange plans.
  Roughly one-third of U.S. counties have just one choice of health 
insurer on their exchanges for 2017, and the situation looks likely to 
get much worse next year. In February, health insurer Humana announced 
its decision to completely withdraw from the ObamaCare exchanges for 
2018. Aetna is pulling out of two of the four States in which it will 
still offer plans in 2018, and it has indicated it may pull back even 
further. Wellmark is leaving Iowa. UnitedHealthcare is leaving 
Virginia. Other insurers are contemplating similar exits.
  The New York Times reported in March that ``ObamaCare Choices Could 
Go from One to Zero in Some Areas.''
  ``Parts of the country,'' the Times notes, ``are in jeopardy of not 
having an insurer offering ObamaCare plans next year.'' The quote goes 
on: ``Many counties already have just one insurer offering health plans 
in the ObamaCare marketplaces, and some of those solo insurers are 
showing signs that they are eyeing the exits.'' That is from the New 
York Times.
  What that means is that tens of thousands of Americans may have 
ObamaCare subsidies next year without insurance plans to spend them on. 
As my colleague Senator Alexander, who does so much good work on 
healthcare as the chairman of the HELP Committee, has said, it is like 
having a bus ticket in a town with no buses running.
  While Americans' health insurance options dwindle, their premiums are 
rising. Midlevel ObamaCare plans saw an average 25 percent premium 
increase for 2017--a 25-percent increase for just 1 year, which is on 
top of years of premium increases under ObamaCare. And what are 
Americans with those plans paying for? The odds are good that they are 
paying for plans with limited choices of doctors and hospitals. A 2016 
study of 18 States and Washington, DC, found that 75 percent of their 
exchange plans for 2017 would likely be health maintenance 
organizations or exclusive provider organizations--two types of plans 
that tend to offer narrow provider networks.
  In his joint address to Congress at the end of February, the 
President said of ObamaCare: ``Action is not a choice--it is a 
necessity.'' He is exactly right. ObamaCare is collapsing, and the 
status quo is not sustainable. Unless we want millions of Americans to 
face healthcare disaster, we have to repeal and replace this law.
  Last week, the House passed an ObamaCare repeal and replacement bill. 
This legislation repeals ObamaCare's tax increases, penalties, and 
mandates and starts the process of restoring control of healthcare to 
States and individuals.
  The House has made a good start, and I am looking forward to getting 
to build on their bill here in the Senate. I want to make sure we amend 
the House tax credit to ensure that assistance is better targeted to 
those who need it the most. I am looking forward to working with my 
colleagues--Chairman Alexander, Chairman Hatch on the Finance 
Committee, Policy Committee Chairman Barrasso, and many others--to make 
sure we have a bill that will provide the American people with real 
  ObamaCare was founded on the premise that government knows best when 
it comes to individuals' healthcare and that a one-size-fits-all 
solution is somehow the best solution, but we know now that is not the 
case. Individuals know best, and their doctors know best. Government 
does not know best. It is absurd to think that a massive Federal 
bureaucracy can hand down one comprehensive solution that will somehow 
meet the needs of hundreds of millions of individuals in this country. 
We need to move control from Washington and give it back to the States 
so they can embrace healthcare innovations and solutions that work for 
the individuals and the particular needs in their States.
  Republicans are working to implement the kind of healthcare reform 
the American people are looking for--more affordable, more personal, 
more flexible, and less bureaucratic. Americans have had enough of 
ObamaCare's problems. They are ready for healthcare reform that 
actually works, and we are committed to giving it to them.
  I yield the floor.
  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. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.