In Speech, Hatch Outlines New Replacement Plan for ObamaCare
Utah Senator Says, “The bottom line, is that this proposal is sustainable and achievable - and without the tax hikes, mandates, budget-busting spending that have made Obamacare so unpopular with the American people.”
WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor today, Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said the President’s health law should be fully repealed and replaced with the proposals outlined in the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment (CARE) Act. Hatch, along with U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Okla.), announced the Patient CARE Act, a legislative plan to repeal Obamacare and replace it with common-sense, patient-centered reforms that reduce health care costs and increase access to affordable, high-quality care earlier today.
“The bottom line, is that this proposal is sustainable and achievable – and without the tax hikes, mandates, budget-busting spending that have made Obamacare so unpopular with the American people. Most importantly, unlike Obamacare, our plan will reduce health care costs for American individuals, families, and businesses,” said Hatch. “I’m confident we’ll be able to build strong consensus around our ideas and be in a position to formally introduce legislation that will repeal President’s health law and replace it with strong reforms that will actually lower costs, reduce spending, and put high-quality care within the reach of every American.”
Below is the text of Hatch’s full speech delivered on the Senate floor today:
Mr. President, I rise today to speak on a legislative proposal I unveiled today with two of my colleagues – Senators Richard Burr and Tom Coburn – that represents our vision for an alternative to ObamaCare.
Now, let me start by saying something that most Americans – from Utah to North Carolina to Oklahoma – know to be true: ObamaCare just isn’t working.
Try as he might during tomorrow night’s State of the Union address, President Obama will not be able to convince the American people that his health care law is anything other than an unmitigated disaster.
This horribly misguided law puts government between people and their doctors. It includes over $1 trillion in new taxes and a new unsustainable entitlement.
It includes mandates and regulations that have forced too many Americans off their health plans and businesses to cut back on hiring.
And, it has done next to nothing to put a brake on skyrocketing health care costs that are hitting every family in this country.
The three of us knew there was another way – a better way. A way that doesn’t need 2,700 pages of government programs and mandates to enact common-sense reforms that the American people want.
And let me say, Mr. President, that these two Senators that I’ve joined with on this proposal have been looking at this for some time. I commend them for their leadership.
Our plan rests on FOUR simple principles.
First: Repeal Obamacare – with all its costly mandates, taxes, and regulations – in its entirety.
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 to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions.
And, finally: Reform our broken Medicaid system by giving states more flexibility to provide the best coverage for their citizens.
We are confident that our plan would accomplish all of this, Mr. President. And, it would do so without adding one red cent to our $17 trillion debt.
These four principles are the core of what we unveiled today. They are smart, they make sense, and they are what the people of my state have been looking for.
We start with the biggest barrier to health care in this country: sky-rocketing costs.
Too many families can’t afford to buy insurance or to see a doctor. Why? Because of costs.
We recognized this. And, our plan would give people affordable options that meet their needs by harnessing the power of the marketplace – not through Washington-directed mandates.
With more options in the private insurance marketplace – particularly in the small group and individual markets – on top of greater consumer protections and more transparency, the American people will be better able to purchase coverage that’s right for them.
Mr. President, we can see the importance of choice in the failings of ObamaCare, which is struggling to sign up young people who might just need a health plan that’s affordable instead of one that includes coverage they’ll never use or need.
Maybe a 25 year-old male auto mechanic, for example, just wants catastrophic coverage – and not a plan that includes maternity care.
We give people those options to allow them to find coverage that best meet their needs.
We also include significant common-sense consumer protections, like making sure that a person can’t have their coverage cancelled if they get sick.
We help make sure patients with pre-existing conditions can gain access to affordable coverage and let children stay on their parents’ insurance through age 26.
We also get rid of lifetime limits. Under our plan, insurers won’t be able to put a cap on total benefits to be paid out over a person’s lifetime, eliminating a patient’s fear of maxing out their health coverage.
And, we give states more options to provide people with more coverage, while, once again, reducing costs.
Under our plan, families earning up to $71,000, or 300 percent of the federal poverty level, will get a tax credit to purchase the insurance of their choosing.
And we help small businesses enjoy the same advantages as large businesses by allowing them to band together to leverage their purchasing power to buy insurance.
This just makes sense.
Mr. President, I have to say one of the most absurd aspects of ObamaCare is that a good portion of the people it covers is through Medicaid.
Yet, as we all know, Medicaid is a financially unsound program that’s threatening state budgets. Its expansion under ObamaCare only threatens the program further.
Our plan includes a key reform that’s similar to the Medicaid modernization plan that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and myself put out last year.
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 – similar to what President Clinton and many Democrats who remain in this chamber supported in the past - to ensure that the dollars follow the patient.
This structural reform of Medicaid is coupled with new flexibility for states to best manage their Medicaid populations.
On top of that, we give those on Medicaid the option of purchasing private health insurance, which is more frequently accepted by quality doctors.
Mr. President, I want to emphasize that our proposal trusts the American people to make the best choices for themselves. That’s why we include an expansion of health savings accounts so people can plan and save for their future medical needs.
That also means injecting transparency into health care costs, so people know which provider charges what and how successful they are.
We include other cost containing measures like medical malpractice liability reform to help reduce the costly practice of defensive medicine.
We also reduce the distortions in the tax code that actually increase the cost of health care in our country by capping the employee exclusion. This is a key way of restraining costs that has been cited across the economic spectrum.
The bottom line, Mr. President, is that this proposal is sustainable and achievable – and without the tax hikes, mandates, budget-busting spending that have made Obamacare so unpopular with the American people.
Most importantly, unlike Obamacare, our plan will reduce health care costs for American individuals, families, and businesses.
I look forward to working with my colleagues and experts throughout the health care community to better refine and improve our blueprint. I’m confident we’ll be able to build strong consensus around our ideas and be in a position to formally introduce legislation that will repeal President’s health law and replace it with strong reforms that will actually lower costs, reduce spending, and put high-quality care within the reach of every American.
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