Barrasso: Obamacare Fails Rural Americans
"Obamacare created the illusion of coverage. Now, even this illusion is disappearing. What’s even worse for rural Americans is that it’s not just the coverage that’s turning out to be an illusion under Obamacare. The care is actually disappearing."
by U.S. Senator John Barrasso media release
October 21, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today (Wednesday, October 21, 2015), U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor highlighting Obamacare’s failures in addressing rural health care.
Transcript of Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
"Mr. President, I'd like to associate myself with the remarks of the majority leader and point out that in today's ‘New York Times,’ Wednesday, October 21, the big headline, ‘Insurance out of reach for many despite law.’ Despite this law, insurance is out of reach for many.
"And I know that my colleagues who are back home visiting with people around their home states last week, listening to what was on constituents' minds, heard exactly this, the problems of the health care law.
"I was at home in Wyoming, and I heard from a lot of people who are very concerned about President Obama’s collapsing health care law.
"People in Wyoming just learned that the insurance company WINHealth will no longer be selling insurance through the Obamacare exchange in our state.
"The company said that it had to stop selling Obamacare plans because there was just no way to make money without big taxpayer subsidies coming from Washington.
"This company was already planning to raise rates significantly next year.
"It turns out that even that wasn’t going to be enough money to make it worthwhile.
"In less than two weeks, Obamacare exchanges across the country will start selling insurance for next year.
"So the total number of companies left selling insurance in the exchange for the state of Wyoming will be exactly one.
"There will be no competition at all in the Obamacare exchange.
"If your doctor doesn’t take that insurance – you are out of luck.
"If you can’t afford it– you are out of luck.
"Is that what the president promised the American people?
"I got an email from one of my constituents – Al Harris in Green River, Wyoming.
"He wrote: ‘HELP!!!!!!’
"He says, ‘WINHealth has become the latest casualty of Obamacare.’
"Al says that at his business, ‘I have about 30 people that now will have no insurance … at least not this insurance. I am scrambling with few options and I’m convinced any option will be substantially more expensive.’
"Al says, ‘This train wreck needs to be stopped.’ And I agree.
"President Obama and Democrats in Congress made a mess of the health care system in our country.
"They said they had a better way of doing things.
"They said they knew best how to create competition, and how health care should operate in America.
"They created all of these Washington mandates.
"They required people to buy expensive coverage that was more than many people wanted, needed, or could afford.
"Then they created the exchanges where people could buy this new, expensive, Washington-mandated insurance coverage.
"And now the people of Wyoming are left with one option on the Obamacare exchange.
"Buy this insurance from this one company – or the IRS will come knocking at your door to collect a big tax penalty, and Mr. President, the penalty is going up next year.
"Because of the significant failures of Obama administration, rural Americans now have fewer choices.
"It’s not just in Wyoming.
"We just learned last week that insurance co-ops in Colorado, Oregon and Tennessee are all closing their doors.
"Because they’ve all lost so much money.
"Eight of the 23 health care co-ops in the country have collapsed – completely collapsed - in the past few months.
"Co-ops have closed in New York, Kentucky – as the majority leader has just said, Louisiana, Nevada, Iowa, and Nebraska.
"Many are in rural areas, where people already don’t have a lot of choices.
Now, we’re talking a half million people here losing their coverage, losing their insurance.
"Remember that promise the President Obama made – if you like your coverage, you can keep your coverage? Where’s the president now? The president said the health care law is working better than he even thought. Amazing.
"Obamacare created these co-ops claiming to provide lower-cost insurance – then it saddled them with so many mandates and restrictions that they need massive taxpayer bailouts.
"Altogether, these failed co-ops collected nearly $900 million already in taxpayer loans to help get them going. That’s how President Obama put this together.
"Now the co-ops have sunk, they’re are sinking – and they’re taking their taxpayer loans with them.
"The ones that are trying to survive have been hiking their rates.
"The co-op in Utah plans to raise premiums by 58 percent starting in January just to be able to stay open. Is that what the president promised when he said rates would drop $2,500 per family?
"In Montana, the rates are set to go up by 43 percent for some co-op plans.
"This wasn’t what rural Americans needed.
"President Obama said that the American people were going to get more choices because of his health care law – instead they’re getting fewer choices.
"And yet he stands up and boldly says, it's working better than he expected.
"Obamacare created the illusion of coverage.
"Now even this illusion is disappearing.
"What’s even worse for rural Americans is that it’s not just the coverage that’s turning out to be an illusion under Obamacare. The care is actually disappearing.
"Earlier this month we learned that Mercy Hospital in Independence, Kansas, will be closing down.
"This is the 56th rural hospital to close in the United States since 2010 – when Obamacare became law.
"Another 238 hospitals are in danger of closing.
"The added expense, the regulations, and the other destructive side effects of Obamacare are a big reason for this.
"The patients who rely on these hospitals will have to find some other place to go to get their medical care – somewhere farther away from home.
"Democrats in Congress – many who live in big cities – may take for granted that they can get to a hospital quickly.
"That’s just not the case in rural America.
"As a doctor who practiced medicine for 25 years, I can tell you that the extra time people spend travelling to a hospital can make all the difference in the world between life and death.
"For someone who’s had a heart attack, or been in a traffic accident, or for a woman with a high-risk pregnancy, every minute counts.
"Only 20 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas – and these areas account for 60 percent of all trauma deaths.
"Americans living in these rural areas didn’t need President Obama making it tougher for their rural, local hospital to stay open.
"Mercy Hospital was the center of medical care in its community for 100 years – and it also provided jobs for nearly 200 people.
"In many parts of the country – like Independence, Kansas, and much of my home state of Wyoming – the local hospital can be the biggest employer in the area.
"If the hospital closes, those people lose their jobs.
"The tax base for the community goes down, which means fewer services like schools, firefighters and public safety. Maybe the local restaurant or florist doesn’t have enough business to stay open.
"Nurses, teachers, and other workers move away, looking for a better chance somewhere else.
It’s harder for the town to attract new doctors, teachers, or businesses.
"The town suffers.
"That’s what these communities across America are facing.
"Was that what President Obama promised the American people?
"Is that how Obamacare was supposed to work?
"Ezekiel Emanuel was one of the architects of the president's health care law.
"He says that 56 hospitals shutting down is not enough. He’s actually written about this – it’s astonishing.
"He says that over the next few years, more than 1,000 hospitals will close.
"One thousand American communities, where people will be farther away from medical care.
"One thousand American towns in danger of fading away because of the lost jobs and lost health care.
"We needed health care reform in this country – that’s not in dispute.
"We did not need the disruptive, destructive, and dangerous Obamacare law.
"It’s been bad for patients, bad for providers like doctors and nurses who take care of those patients, and terrible for taxpayers.
"It has been especially hard on rural communities.
"We have got to do something to stop this corrosive condition causing hospitals to close,
insurance co-ops to collapse and health care choices to disappear.
"Democrats in Congress need to sit down with Republicans and start talking about the kind of health care reforms that the American people need, want, and deserve."