My colleagues and I have been on this floor for the last seven years, talking about the problems in Obamacare and the need to address them.
In the early days when Obamacare was still being cobbled together, we talked about individuals losing their coverage. Promises were made that if you liked the plan you have, you could keep it. That turned out to be a broken promise.
In 2008 and 2009 we talked about premiums skyrocketing. Today we’re still talking about it. Premiums are more than 100 percent higher in Wyoming today than they were when the law passed. And our insurer was fortunately being conservative in their approach, so premiums didn’t spike the way they did in other states.
I usually enjoy being right, but in this case, I am very sad to have had to watch the worst possible scenario playing out, and having had my colleagues across the aisle stand and do nothing. Time after time, President Obama was faced with a problem in implementation, in outcomes, and he would dismiss us saying, “it just needs more time,” or as this cartoon shows, “it just needs a tune up.” Well it got time – it got seven years and hundreds of billions of dollars. And we are left now trying to pick up the pieces of health insurance in our country.
You can see here that this ambulance is Obamacare and behind it is the engine and key components to run it that have completely fallen apart – that’s the private insurance market. But the part you don’t see here is that there is a patient in the back of the ambulance. This isn’t just about politics, this is about people and whether or not they can afford an insurance premium that is higher than their house payment.
From even before its passage, my Republican colleagues and I have talked about the danger that Obamacare posed to the private insurance markets.
Insurers have left the market in droves. In Wyoming we are down to one carrier – we lost the other to the economics of the Obamacare exchange. And we will be lucky to keep the one we have. I know many people in our country are going to be in the position of having no insurers offering plans in their county.
How has this happened? It has happened because of politics being put before patients, and an unwillingness to take on the hard task of fixing something that you’ve sold as the perfect solution.
Well I can tell you that health care isn’t a simple issue – it’s not some soft topic that you can work through over a brown bag lunch. It’s complex and, really, there is no one right way to tackle it. I was Ranking Member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee when Obamacare passed. We worked like dogs to find common ground, and when it became clear that there was not a reciprocal commitment to that from Democrats, we worked hard to try to stop it.
Now, we are finally in a position to do so. We have a President in the White House who is committed to repealing Obamacare and doing so before more irreparable harm is done. Since November, Republicans have been working on an approach that will have the maximum positive impact on both the short and long-term problems of Obamacare.
We have problems to solve right now. We are proposing to stabilize insurance markets in the short term and to get insurance on a more manageable trajectory over the longer term. We are proposing to address the heart of the Obamacare policies by removing mandates, taxes, and putting Medicaid on more sustainable footing. Doing this is not easy. But the alternative is to do what the Democrats have done for seven years and watch Obamacare crater. But we don’t think that’s the right thing to do. We think that we have an obligation, even if it’s not an easy vote, to salvage our insurance system.
Getting something done in Washington isn’t always a pretty process, but I am proud to be working with women and men in my conference who see that there is something larger at stake than themselves, who know that sitting this out means more harm, and perhaps harm that can’t be undone later.
I will keep working, I am committed to giving the best product that we can deliver to the people of Wyoming and our country, and I look forward to working together to repeal Obamacare, and put in place policies that will truly improve health care in America.