Gardner: Obamacare Insurance Premium Increases Continue to Hurt Coloradans

Washington, DC – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) spoke on the Senate floor today following the Colorado Division of Insurance’s (DOI) announcement of the final premium increases for 2017 insurance plans. According to DOI, premiums for the individual market will increase by 20.4% on average in 2017.

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Rush Transcript

Mr. President, in Washington, D.C. today is just another day of bureaucratic rollouts, regulatory nightmares, and government overreach. But if you're in Colorado today, it's also sticker shock day, because today the people of Colorado found out, thanks to the new numbers just confirmed by the Colorado Division of Insurance, that if you live in that state, you are going to be paying, on average, an additional 20.4% for your health insurance this year under Obamacare. 

That's the individual rate that was just confirmed for the 2017 plans -- 20.4% increase. Now, remember, the promises that were made when Obamacare was put into law in the most partisan of fashions, the promises that were made, ‘if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,’ it's been proven untrue. ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan,’ it's been proven untrue. Why do we know that? Because in Colorado alone, over the past three years, over 750,000 Coloradans have had their insurance plans canceled. 

Let's just go through those numbers. That's over 92,000 people with individual plans from United Healthcare, Humana, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, and Anthem. They'll be forced to find new plans in 2017. 

In May, United Healthcare and Humana announced they weren't going to be offering plans in Colorado at all. We've seen Aetna reduce significantly the number of plans that they will be offering. We know that the health care co-op in Colorado collapsed because it was unsustainable thanks to the way that Obamacare was designed, costing over 80,000 Coloradans their health insurance. And back in August of 2013, we saw hundreds of thousands more in Colorado lose their health insurance. That doesn't sound like a promise that's been kept to me. That's a promise that has been broken. 

We also know that Obamacare promised that it would reduce the premiums by $2,500 per family. But here we are today talking about a 20.4% rate increase on the Colorado people alone, and we know from studies that show that one-third of Colorado counties aren't even going to have a choice of more than one insurance provider to choose from. That, despite the third Obamacare promise, that the people of this country would have more opportunities to buy different insurance products, more choice, more consumer insurance options, yet over a third of the counties in this country will have only one choice or perhaps even fewer. That's why legislation that has been introduced in recent days by Senator McCain and Senator Sasse are so important. And what do they do?

Senator Sasse has introduced legislation that says if an insurance increase is more than 10%, then you don't have to abide by the individual mandate, forcing people to pay these outrageous increases thanks to Obamacare. It also says it if you're paying 8% of your income in insurance premiums then you don't have to abide by the mandate of Obamacare. It gives people the ability to actually have that financial certainty that they're looking for, the certainty that Obamacare promised but failed to deliver. Senator McCain says that if a county has one or fewer health insurance options to choose from, then they also will receive relief from Obamacare's individual mandate. These are important because in states like Colorado the government is forcing you to pay at least 20.4% more if you're in the individual market. That's the average rate increase. 

Now, while 20.4% in the 2017 plans is certainly a significant amount, that's on top of last year's rate increases. If you live on the Western Slope of Colorado, last year you saw average premium rates in the individual market increase by 25.8%. One of the most expensive markets in the country, the Western Slope of Colorado. The mountains of our state. So between these two years -- now, we haven't been able to break down what it means on the Western Slope -- that individual impact might even be higher on Colorado's Western Slope. We don't quite have those numbers broken down because it was just released today, this massive increase under Obamacare. But if you just take the statewide average of the individual plan of 20.4% with 25% increase last year, that's an almost 50% increase in insurance over the past two years. 2017 which will increase 20.4% on average, and this past year of 25.8%. That's nearly 50% increase. The people of Colorado can't afford Obamacare. Obamacare can't keep its promises. 

We've got to find real solutions for the American people. And I urge the President to come forward with the acknowledgment that his signature law is a signature failure. Mr. President, I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a quorum.


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.

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