Aaron Fobes, Julia Lawless (202) 224-4515
Hatch on Senate Floor: Patient CARE Act a Better Approach than Obamacare
In a speech on the Senate floor, Utah Senator Says, “The Patient CARE Act represents a sustainable and achievable alternative to Obamacare, one that will succeed without the tax hikes, the mandates, and outrageous government spending that came part and parcel with the Affordable Care Act. Most importantly, it will actually reduce the cost of health care in this country.”
WASHINGTON – In a speech today on the Senate floor, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) highlighted the Patient CARE Act, a plan authored by Hatch, Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) that repeals and replaces the health care law with patient-centered reforms.
“At virtually every step, our aim with this proposal is to take the federal government out of the equation and put individuals and families in charge of making their health care decisions. We trust the American people to make the best choices for themselves,” said Hatch.
The complete speech, as prepared for delivery, is below:
Mr. President, last week I joined my colleague Senator Burr in unveiling the latest version of our legislative proposal to repeal and replace the so-called Affordable Care Act. We are joined this time around by our friend in the House, Chairman Upton of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
We call our proposal the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment Act, or the Patient CARE Act for short.
As you may recall, we first unveiled this framework last year, and, in general, it received high marks for being a serious, responsible alternative to Obamacare. We’ve unveiled the latest version of the proposal in hopes of continuing the conversation we began in the last Congress.
Let’s face it, Mr. President, Obamacare isn’t working.
Sure, its proponents here in the Senate and elsewhere have gotten pretty good at cherry-picking data in order to try to convince the American people that the President’s health law is a success. But, the American people know the truth: the law is a disaster for individuals, families, and employers alike.
Despite the claims that Obamacare would lower health care costs, costs have continued to skyrocket.
Due to the all the mandates in the law, businesses are slowing hiring and moving employees into part-time work.
And, of course, the law includes more than a trillion dollars in new taxes that impact consumers and businesses around the country.
We need a better path forward and a long term vision for sustainable health care reform.
I want to take just a few minutes today to talk about the approach we want to take with the Patient CARE Act and why it is a better approach than the one being taken under Obamacare.
Our plan rests on FOUR simple principles.
First: Repeal Obamacare – with all its costly mandates, taxes, and regulations.
Second: Reduce costs by taking the government out of the equation, and, instead, empowering consumers to make choices about their own health care.
Third: Provide common-sense consumer protections, including protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
And, Fourth: Reform our broken Medicaid system by giving states more flexibility to provide the best coverage for their citizens.
Let me talk about each of these principles in a little more detail.
For any health care proposal to have a chance at success, it must get rid of Obamacare. The failures of Obamacare have been well-documented here on the Senate floor and elsewhere. The American people deal with those failures on a daily basis. That’s why the first principle of our proposal is to repeal Obamacare once and for all.
Then we move on to address the biggest barrier to health care in this country: skyrocketing costs.
Our plan would give hardworking taxpayers affordable options to meet their health care needs by harnessing the power of the marketplace, not through federal government mandates. With more options in the private insurance marketplace, people will be better able to find insurance that meets their needs.
The lack of choice and draconian coverage mandates is one of Obamacare’s biggest shortcomings. Our proposal would allow consumers to find affordable plans that address their particular needs without making them pay for coverage they’ll never use or want.
Our proposal would also give states more options to provide people with more coverage. And, under our plan, families earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for a tax credit to purchase insurance of their choosing. In addition, our plan would help small businesses enjoy the same advantages in the marketplace as large businesses by allowing them to band together to leverage their purchasing power to buy insurance for their employees.
The Patient CARE Act also proposes an expansion of health savings accounts so that people can plan and save for their future medical needs. Under our plan, for the first time, consumers will be able to use their pre-tax dollars to pay premiums and deductibles. And, our proposal would inject more transparency into health care costs so that people can know what their providers are charging and how successful they are.
In addition, we include other cost-saving measures like medical malpractice liability reform to help reduce the expensive practice of unnecessary defensive medicine.
And, our plan would reduce the distortions in the tax code that actually increase the cost of health care in our country by capping the unlimited employee exclusion. This is a key way of restraining costs that has support across the political and economic spectrum.
In our proposal, the exclusion is capped at a generous $30,000 for a family plan and that threshold will continue to grow at CPI plus one.
Most importantly, we make sure that we preserve the employer-sponsored healthcare system for those 160 million Americans who rely on it by leaving the employer deduction untouched and by repealing the job-killing Employer Mandate.
By increasing consumer choice and utilizing the power of the market, our proposal will actually reduce health care costs, something that Obamacare has failed miserably to do.
Our plan also includes a number of common sense consumer protections.
For example, we would make sure a person would not see their coverage get cancelled if they get sick.
Our plan would also ensure that people with pre-existing conditions could not be denied access to health insurance. Period.
Let me repeat that again for my friends on the other side who were confused about this in some of their speeches: No American with a pre-existing condition can be denied coverage under our plan. End of story.
We would also let children stay on their parents’ plans through age 26 and prevent insurers from putting caps on total benefits paid out over a person’s lifetime so that no patient will have to worry about maxing out their coverage.
Finally, our plan would address the current failings of the Medicaid program.
Keep in mind, Mr. President, many of newly insured people credited to Obamacare have obtained their coverage through the expansion of Medicaid. Of course, this is absurd as Medicaid is a financially unsound program that continues to swallow up state budgets on a yearly basis. Obamacare didn’t improve the stability of Medicaid, it only threatened it further.
The Patient CARE Act includes a key reform that’s similar to the Medicaid modernization plan that Chairman Upton and myself proposed in the last Congress.
Currently, federal taxpayers have an open-ended liability to match state Medicaid spending, which is a significant driver in Medicaid’s budgetary challenges. Our proposal would create per capita spending caps – something President Clinton and many Democrats who remain in this chamber have supported in the past.
We would couple this structural reform to Medicaid with new flexibility for states to manage their Medicaid populations. On top of that, we would give those on Medicaid the option of purchasing private health insurance, which is more frequently accepted by quality doctors.
Mr. President, I hope you’re grasping a pattern when it comes to this proposal.
At virtually every step, our aim with this proposal is to take the federal government out of the equation and put individuals and families in charge of making their health care decisions. We trust the American people to make the best choices for themselves.
The Patient CARE Act represents a sustainable and achievable alternative to Obamacare, one that will succeed without the tax hikes, the mandates, and outrageous government spending that came part and parcel with the Affordable Care Act. Most importantly, it will actually reduce the cost of health care in this country.
Once again, our hope with unveiling the latest version of this framework is that we can continue the conversation about improving health care for individuals and families. I’ve given just a top-line, 35,000-foot overview of the proposal here today. I want to invite my colleagues to take a look at our ideas and give us your feedback. I hope that health care experts around the country will continue to do the same.
Unlike Obamacare, this is a product that will rely on consensus and feedback. We have more work to do. I look forward to more discussion and conversation about these issues.
I yield the floor.
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