12.03.15

Gardner Highlights Obamacare’s Broken Promises

“So it’s time to act. It’s time to take that path forward. It’s time to repeal Obamacare, which is simply one big broken promise after another.”

Click here to view Senator Gardner’s Floor Speech

 

Washington, DC – In a speech this week on the Senate floor, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) laid out the broken promises of Obamacare and how the law is continuing to be a burden to Colorado families and businesses. When Obamacare was passed, Coloradans were made three major promises. First, that if they liked their plans, they could keep them. Second, that the new law would reduce healthcare costs for families, businesses, and government. And third, that Obamacare CO-OPs would create more competition in the marketplace. All three of these promises were broken. Coloradans have had to bear the consequences.

A transcript of the Senator’s remarks is below:

Mr. President, I come to the Senate floor today to talk about the broken promises of ObamaCare and the negative impacts that this poorly written law have had on my State of Colorado. While there have been many broken promises of ObamaCare, there have been three major broken promises that are the center of focus for hundreds of thousands of Coloradans.

I want to start with broken promise No. 1. If you liked your plan, you can keep it. The President said over 35 times that Americans shouldn't worry about ObamaCare because if you liked your plan, then you could keep it. And it wasn't just the President; time after time, supporters of ObamaCare came to the floor of the House or the Senate or before townhalls in their States or districts and repeated those words: If you liked your plan, you can keep it. In fact, these words were used to justify the reason they supported ObamaCare in the first place.

But Coloradans quickly learned that this promise was far from the truth. In late 2013, roughly 335,000 insurance policies in Colorado were canceled because of ObamaCare. These cancellations also affected my family health care plan. Unfortunately, the cancellations in 2013 were just the very beginning. In January of 2014, the Colorado Division of Insurance canceled an additional 249,000 plans because these plans didn't meet the requirements of ObamaCare.

The President said: If you liked your plan, you can keep it. Supporters in Congress said: If you liked your plan, you can keep it. But what he meant was, as long as the government approves of your plan, then you can keep it.

Again in 2015, an additional 190,000 plans were canceled. In total, according to the Congressional Research Service, over 750,000 health insurance perhaps plans in Colorado were canceled between 2013 and 2015.

The fact-checking organization PolitiFact said this promise was ``impossible to keep'' and went on to deem President Obama's promise that if you like your health care plan, you can keep it the ``Lie of the Year'' for 2013.

Supporters of ObamaCare will tell you that well it’s OK that this happened because these 750,000 individuals must have had inferior health insurance and that the government knows best. You see, that is the exact problem with government. That is the arrogance of government and the arrogance of ObamaCare--that people in the government, bureaucrats, others, believe they know better for the American consumers what the American consumer believes is best for themselves. They believe it’s OK to cancel 750,000 policies because they must have been bad, and so go ahead and cancel it. They will also say that it is all right because there are additional plans they can choose from. But that wasn't the promise of ObamaCare.

Broken promise No. 1: If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.

Broken promise No. 2: ObamaCare will reduce the costs for families, businesses, and our government.

Remember, when ObamaCare was passed, they said the additional family would save $2,500 a year relatively soon after its passage. Unfortunately, Coloradans have felt that broken promise as well. It’s a broken promise that hit their pocketbooks and has broken the bank as well. Take for example, the Western Slope of Colorado, and I have a chart here. According to the Colorado Division of Insurance, individual insurance premiums for 2016 on the Western Slope of Colorado will rise by an additional average of 25.8 percent.

There are people across America who are familiar with Colorado's Western Slope. These are our incredible mountain vistas, our forests, our national parks, our ski resorts.

They received a 25.8-percent increase in their health care costs this year. That’s far from the promise of lowering the health care costs that ObamaCare was passed with. No one can afford these high prices. In fact, in 2013 one of my Democratic colleagues in the Colorado delegation even tried to exempt one of the wealthiest counties in Colorado from ObamaCare, citing that health insurance premiums would be too expensive. Let me say that again. A Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a Democrat, tried to exempt portions of his district from ObamaCare because it was making his constituents pay too much for their insurance. Here’s the quote:

We will be encouraging a waiver. It will be difficult for Summit County residents to become insured. For the vast majority, it's too high a price to pay.

ObamaCare has simply made it more costly whether you are living on the Eastern Plains, Fort Collins, or the Western Slope. Plans are getting more expensive, and promises are being broken.

Broken promise No. 3: President Obama promised greater competition in the marketplace through consumer-run co-ops. Yet over 80,000 Coloradans are feeling the impacts of this broken promise. To date, 12 out of 23 co-ops created by ObamaCare have been shut down across the United States, including the co-op in Colorado, which failed in October of this year.

Nationwide, the failed co-ops were loaned over $1 billion, $1 billion which came from the hard-working taxpayers of this country. That was supposed to help get these co-ops off the ground, but now with these failures, that taxpayer money is at risk of never being paid back to the people of this country, and has put the

ObamaCare allowed policies to be offered that were never actuarially sound because they assumed that there would be a government bailout, a bailout by the government to help make them actuarially sound. So banking on a bailout, they sold the American people a bill of goods.

But today we have a path forward, a path forward that is turning away from the failed health care law that has been built on broken promises. The first step of this path forward is to repeal ObamaCare, and I urge my colleagues to support the repeal of ObamaCare that we will be voting on this week. Repealing ObamaCare will clear the way for a replacement plan, putting our country's health care on the right track.

First, we have to restore the ability for individuals to choose for themselves what’s best instead of big government, what’s best for themselves. Coloradans don't want Dr. Congress. They want to keep the doctor they were promised they could keep in the first place. The best way to do this is to ensure that people get to keep the health plans that they want, and that is why I am working with Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin on his amendment that simply says that if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.

In Colorado, I’ve heard from countless individuals who lost their plans, plans they liked and wanted to keep. They were certainly promised they could keep them, and just because ObamaCare can't fulfill the promise that it was sold under doesn't mean that we shouldn't do our jobs to make that promise a reality. The amendment that Senator Johnson and I have offered would allow individuals to continue receiving health coverage on plans that would otherwise be canceled because of ObamaCare.

Second, we must ensure that taxpayer dollars are used responsibly. I filed an amendment that will help recover taxpayer money that was loaned to the failed co-ops. More than $1 billion in Federal loans were awarded to these failed co-ops. Congress has a duty to spend taxpayer dollars responsibly, and this amendment will ensure just that.

Lastly, we must make sure that individuals have certainty in the health coverage they choose. My final amendment will make certain that co-ops can't rely on bailouts when they are calculating insurance premiums, setting false expectations for consumers. Several co-ops counted on these bailout provisions to keep premiums artificially low. Because these premiums were artificially low and since many co-ops were planning on receiving the bailout, many could no longer cover their expenses. Allowing co-ops to rely on a bailout was irresponsible and has resulted in nearly 700,000 individuals nationwide whose health coverage is now uncertain.

So it’s time to act. It’s time to take that path forward. It’s time to repeal ObamaCare, which is simply one big broken promise after another. This path to repeal ObamaCare will allow us to replace ObamaCare with less health care regulation for businesses, individuals. And a path forward for individual freedoms and a more prosperous America.

Mr. President, I yield back my time.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.