Katie Niederee, Julia Lawless (202)224-4515
Hatch: Obamacare ‘Poorly Designed and Recklessly Implemented’
Utah Senator Says, “By no honest or reasonable measure is Obamacare living up to the promises that were made at the time it was passed.”
WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor today, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) reiterated Republicans’ commitment to rescuing the American people from the failures of Obamacare and highlighted the need to address the skyrocketing premiums that are crushing middle-class families and small businesses.
“Under Obamacare, the average health insurance premiums in the U.S. have seen triple digit increases. This is the burden Obamacare has placed on patients and families throughout our country, and people are feeling that burden whether they vote for Democrats or Republicans,” Hatch said. “The only difference is that, for seven and a half years, my Republican colleagues and I have been talking about the failures of Obamacare. And, for seven and a half years, Senate Democrats have done virtually nothing to address these problems.”
Hatch went on to address hypocritical claims from Senate Democrats on process fouls for the repeal and replace effort, as well as urge his Democratic colleagues to put aside political gamesmanship and join the healthcare debate to help enact meaningful reforms for the American people.
“Senate committees – including the Finance Committee – have had literally dozens of hearings wherein the failings of Obamacare have been thoroughly examined. Between all the relevant committees, there have been at least 66 health care hearings in the Senate since Obamacare became the healthcare law of the land,” Hatch said. “Ever since Obamacare was signed into law, Democrats have more or less assumed that the debate was over and that all they had to do was keep telling the American people that everything was just fine, as if repetition alone would make it come true. I want to welcome my Democratic colleagues to the healthcare debate.
The complete speech as prepared for delivery is below:
Mr. President, for the last several weeks, we’ve been hearing quite a bit about process here in the Senate, particularly as it relates to the ongoing debate over the future of Obamacare.
My friends on the other side of the aisle have apparently poll-tested the strategy of decrying the supposed secrecy surrounding the health care bill and the lack of regular order in its development. They’ve come to the floor, given interviews, and even hijacked committee meetings and hearings to express their supposedly righteous indignation about how Republicans are proceeding with the health care bill.
Of course, hearing Senate Democrats lecture about preserving the customs and traditions of the Senate is a bit ironic, but I’ll get back to that in a minute.
Last week, the Senate Finance Committee, which I chair, held a routine nominations markup to consider a slate a relatively uncontroversial nominees. That same day, several of our colleagues and congressional staffers had been viciously attacked by an armed assailant and a member of the House of Representatives was in a hospital in critical condition.
I opened the meeting by respectfully asking my colleagues to allow the committee to use the markup as an opportunity to demonstrate unity in the face of a violent attack against Congress as an institution. And, even then, my Democratic friends were apparently unable pass up an opportunity to try to score partisan points and rack up video clips for social media by playing for the cameras as they lamented the committee’s position in the health care debate. Once again, Mr. President, the situation is dripping with irony. Like I said, I’ll get to that in a minute.
If my Democratic colleagues are going to continue grandstanding over the healthcare debate, I have a few numbers I’d like to cite for them.
Under Obamacare, health insurance premiums in the state of Oregon have gone up by an average of 110 percent.
In Michigan, they’ve gone up by 90 percent.
In Florida, they’ve gone up by 84 percent.
In Delaware, they’ve gone up by 108 percent.
In Ohio, they’ve gone up by 86 percent.
In Pennsylvania, they’ve gone up by 120 percent.
In Virginia, they’ve gone up by 77 percent.
And, in Missouri, they’ve gone up by 145 percent.
Now, Mr. President, I have not picked those states at random. Each of these states is currently represented by a Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.
Of course, those trends extend well beyond the committee.
In Illinois, where the Senate Minority Whip resides, premiums have gone up by 108 percent.
In West Virginia and Wisconsin, both of which are also represented by Democratic senators, premiums have gone up by 169 percent and 93 percent respectively.
Montana is in a similar situation with premiums rising by 133 percent under Obamacare.
Now, just so people don’t go thinking I’m picking on the Democrats, I’ll note that in Utah, health insurance premiums have gone up by an average of 101 percent.
In Wyoming they’ve gone up by 107 percent.
And, in Nebraska, they’ve gone up by 153 percent.
I can go on, Mr. President, but I think my point is clear. Health insurance premiums have skyrocketed all over the country, by an average of 105 percent.
I’ll repeat that: Under Obamacare, the average health insurance premiums in the U.S. have seen triple digit increases.
These are the fruits of the so-called Affordable Care Act. This is the burden Obamacare has placed on patients and families throughout our country, and people are feeling that burden whether they vote for Democrats or Republicans.
The only difference is that, for seven and a half years, my Republican colleagues and I have been talking about the failures of Obamacare.
And, for seven and a half years, Senate Democrats have done virtually nothing to address these problems.
For seven and a half years, Republicans like myself have pleaded with our Democratic colleagues and with the previous administration to work with us to address the failures of Obamacare.
And, for seven and a half years, it’s has been virtually impossible to get any Democrat in Washington to even acknowledge that there were any problems with Obamacare to begin with.
As the cost of healthcare in this country has skyrocketed out of control and the system created by the so-called Affordable Care Act has been collapsing under its own weight, Democrats in the Senate have been cherry-picking what few positive data points they can find and telling the American people that everything is fine and that Obamacare is working.
Yet, by no honest or reasonable measure is Obamacare living up to the promises that were made at the time it was passed. And, as a result, the American people are saddled with a healthcare system that has been poorly designed and recklessly implemented.
Sure, it has made for partisan political theater for my colleagues to express shock and dismay at current state of the health care debate. I’m quite certain that the strategy has poll-tested very well among the Democrat base and the Senate Minority Leader clearly has an elaborate media campaign in mind.
But, before they began berating Republicans, I hope my Democratic colleagues were able to come up with something to tell their constituents whose healthcare costs have exploded as a result of Obamacare.
I hope they have answers for their voters who are wondering why they only have one insurance option available to them, if they even have that.
And, most importantly, I hope they have an explanation as to why they’ve been more or less silent while the law they supported – and still support – has wreaked havoc on our nation’s healthcare system.
Until they can answer those questions and provide those explanations, my friends should spare anyone within earshot their lectures about what’s currently happening in the Senate.
Finally, let me address the irony of my Democratic colleagues’ process complaints. Some of them have selective memories when it comes to the history of Obamacare.
We’ve heard our colleagues talk about the number of committee hearings held in advance of Obamacare’s passing. What we don’t hear is that there was not a single hearing held in the Senate on the Obamacare reconciliation bill, which was an essential element that ensured passage of the Affordable Care Act in the House.
We’ve heard our colleagues talk about the markup process in committee and the number of amendments that were filed and accepted. What we don’t hear about is the fact that the bills reported by the Finance and HELP Committees were tossed aside so that the healthcare bill could be rewritten behind closed doors in Senator Reid’s office. The final product was only made public a few days before the Senate voted on it.
The truth of the matter is this: Senate committees – including the Finance Committee – have had literally dozens of hearings wherein the failings of Obamacare – both the structure of the law and its implementation – have been thoroughly examined.
Between all the relevant committees, there have been at least 66 health care hearings in the Senate since Obamacare became the healthcare law of the land. More than half of those were in the Finance Committee.
Committees have conducted countless oversight investigations and inquiries into these matters over the years.
Mr. President, few matters in the history of our country have received as much of the Senate’s attention as Obamacare has received. Very few laws have been examined as extensively as the Affordable Care Act.
Obamacare is the very definition of well-covered territory.
The Majority Leader has made clear that members will have an opportunity to examine the forthcoming health-care bill, and I expect that to be the case.
He has also made assurances that, when the bill is debated on the floor, we will have a fair and open amendment process, as required under the rules. There’s really no reason for anyone to expect otherwise.
Let’s recall that, when Obamacare was passed, the Democratic Speaker of the House, with a plain face, stated that Congress had to pass the bill in order for people to see what was in it.
Let’s also recall that, a couple years later, one of the chief architects of the Affordable Care Act bragged about the lack of transparency that surrounded its passage, and said it was necessary to, in his words, take advantage of the “stupidity of the American voter.”
Any argument that the process that resulted in Obamacare was the picture of transparency and deliberation is so off-base that it would almost be humorous if the issue was something less important.
As I said in committee last week, I want to welcome my Democratic colleagues to the healthcare debate. Ever since Obamacare was signed into law, Democrats have more or less assumed that the debate was over and that all they had to do was keep telling the American people that everything was just fine, as if repetition alone would make it come true.
Everyone is going to see the bill. And everyone is going to get their chance to say their piece about it.
For now, I simply hope that my Democratic colleagues will spare us their lectures and maybe look in the mirror when they’re ranting about the degradation of the processes and traditions of the Senate.
With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.
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