Amelia Brienig, Julia Lawless (202)224-4515
Hatch: Time is Now to Repeal and Replace Misguided Law
Utah Senator Says we must, “strive toward our own policy goals to implement patient-centered health reforms that address costs and promote choice and competition.”
WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor today, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) highlighted the importance of repealing and replacing Obamacare and noted the skyrocketing costs associated with the unworkable law.
“We need to act as quickly as possible to repeal and replace the misguided law,” Hatch said. “Just today we received a report from HHS that from the time Obamacare took effect through 2017 there was an average premium increase of 105 percent across the 39 states using HealthCare.gov. This is just one snapshot of the runaway costs of Obamacare.”
Hatch went on to address specific policy issues that fall under the jurisdiction of the Senate Finance Committee including taxes and the individual mandate.
“My view that all of the Obamacare taxes need to go. We shouldn’t be treating the Obamacare taxes as a smorgasbord, picking and choosing which ones to keep and which to discard,” Hatch continued. “Like the taxes, the Individual Mandate needs to be repealed. Republicans have spent years condemning the individual mandate as an unconstitutional assault on individual liberty”
Hatch concluded by reiterating the constraints of the budget reconciliation process and urged Congressional members to focus on realistic goals and outcomes for the repeal and replace effort.
“I believe it is important that everyone manage their expectations about the possible outcomes of this process given the limitations we’re facing,” Hatch said. “While we can and should be ambitious in our efforts, we need to be realistic about the limitations that exist and be willing to practice the art of the doable, to compromise, and to recognize what issues will need to be set aside for a another day.”
The complete speech as prepared for delivery is below:
Mr. President, I rise today to speak about the continuing effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.
This effort has essentially been going since the day the bill was signed into law, and I think most of us on the Republican side recognize the overwhelming consensus surrounding the failures of Obamacare as a major reason we currently find ourselves in the majority.
As you know, the House passed the American Health Care Act, a bill that would repeal-and-replace Obamacare, earlier this month.
This was an important step in the process.
And, later today, we expect to hear from the Congressional Budget Office about the House bill.
The CBO score will lay down an important marker for the repeal-and-replace efforts in the Senate. It will allow us to work to ensure that the House bill fits into the constraints of the reconciliation rules in the Senate, while we continue to strive toward our own policy goals to implement patient-centered health reforms that address costs and promote choice and competition.
These changes are more important than ever, Mr. President. Just today we received a report from HHS that from the time Obamacare took effect through 2017 there was an average premium increase of 105 percent across the 39 states using HealthCare.gov.
This is just one snapshot of the runaway costs of Obamacare. And it is just one of many examples indicating why we need to act as quickly as possible to repeal and replace the misguided law.
As the Senate continues to discuss the policy matters related to this effort, we’ll need to confront a number of different issues as we work to provide enduring reforms for our beleaguered healthcare system. As Chairman of the Senate committee with jurisdiction over most of the salient issues under discussion, I want to make my views on these matters very clear.
First, it is my view that ALL of the Obamacare taxes need to go.
We shouldn’t be treating the Obamacare taxes as a smorgasbord, picking and choosing which ones to keep and which to discard. I don’t think there’s a single tax increase in Obamacare that has enjoyed support on the Republican side.
And, when all is said and done, the tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act represented a trillion dollar hit on the economy in just the first ten years. That is nearly one percent of the projected gross domestic product over the same period.
In my view, it would be inappropriate, after spending the better part of a decade railing against Obamacare’s burdensome, job-killing taxes, for us to then turn around and say that some of them are fine so long as they’re being used to fund Republican healthcare proposals.
It’s very simple: We need to repeal all of the Obamacare taxes.
The medical device tax, the Health Insurance tax, the so-called Cadillac Tax, the taxes on healthcare savings and pharmaceuticals, and several others – they all have to go.
Second, we need to fully repeal the Individual Mandate.
There has been some talk about keeping the mandate around, temporarily if nothing else, to help shore up the new system.
But, as I said with the Obamacare taxes, Republicans have spent years condemning the individual mandate as an unconstitutional assault on individual liberty. We’ve also argued that it was ineffective in that it has failed to draw enough younger and healthier consumers into the insurance markets in order to offset the costs of Obamacare’s draconian market reform mandates.
I don’t see how we can now turn on a dime and say that the individual mandate is now somehow acceptable, because we’re using it to prop up a system that Republicans have designed.
Like the taxes, the Individual Mandate, in my view, needs to be repealed.
Lastly, we need to resist any temptation to alter the tax treatment of employer-provided health insurance as part of this particular exercise.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Mr. President, there have been a number of health reform proposals over the years that have dealt with this issue, including a legislative framework that I drafted along with two of my colleagues.
However, given the limitations we face under this current exercise, and the fact that we are not starting from a blank slate, but rather attempting to repeal a law that has been implemented for a number of years, we should be wary of the impact of pulling employer-sponsored insurance into this current debate.
The purpose of this budget reconciliation exercise to repeal and replace Obamacare is to address costs in the individual market. I believe it is important that everyone – whether they’re members of Congress, stakeholders in the business community, or living elsewhere in the country – manage their expectations about the possible outcomes of this process given the limitations we’re facing.
While the constraints inherent to the budget reconciliation process may be inconvenient at the specific moment, they serve a number of important purposes. Under this process, the Senate will need to reduce the deficit by at least as much as the House bill. There’s really no way around that.
The process for determining what provisions of the House bill will need to be changed is still ongoing. And, of course, we’ll have to take a good, long look at the numbers we get from CBO later today.
Not only do we need to take into account the CBO numbers and budget rules, we also need to consider what is the best policy and, at the end of the day, what approach is doable. We can do a lot in this exercise, but we shouldn’t make this the be-all-end-all of our healthcare reform efforts.
As I stated before, everyone should be managing their expectations at this point. While we can and should be ambitious in our efforts, we need to be realistic about the limitations that exist and be willing to practice the art of the doable, to compromise, and to recognize what issues will need to be set aside for a another day.
None of this will be easy, but I believe we are up to challenge. I look forward to working with my colleagues on these issues and to finding solutions that will help us keep the promises we’ve made to our constituents.
With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.
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