In a speech on the Senate floor today, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) outlined Obamacare’s failures and detailed how the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on the administration’s unlawful implementation of the health law could, once again, cause another disruption in the health care of millions.
“This entire case is yet another reminder of how, more than five years after it was signed, this law continues to cause problems,” Hatch said.“Millions of Americans have already suffered under Obamacare. And if, over the next few weeks, the Supreme Court confirms that the administration broke the law by offering subsidies on federal exchanges, millions more will face the negative consequences of this poorly drafted statute.
Hatch went on to outline how Republicans plan to build a bridge away from the health law while protecting patients that could be hurt by the administration’s actions.
“Fortunately, Republicans in Congress have a transition plan to protect these patients. Indeed, there is a wide consensus that, should the court rule against the government in King v. Burwell, we need to act to protect Americans from further suffering at the hands of Obamacare’s broken promises,” Hatch continued.
The complete speech, as prepared for delivery, is below:
Mr. President, people across the country are eagerly anticipating the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell, and for good reason. This case will likely determine once and for all whether the Obama Administration violated its own law when it opted to issue health insurance tax subsidies to those who purchased insurance on federally-run exchanges.
Many have argued that this decision by the Supreme Court will determine the fate of the so-called Affordable Care Act. And, while that argument may be a little dramatic, it isn’t far off.
I have my own views on how the Court should rule in this case.
Indeed, I’ve made it abundantly clear that, in my view, the statute unambiguously limits the availability of premium tax subsidies to insurance plans purchased on state-run exchanges. I’ve also stated numerous times my belief that the Obama Administration overstepped its authority and broke its own law when it offered subsidies to patients on exchanges established by the federal government.
However, as we all await the outcome of the case, we need to be clear on one point: Regardless of how the Court rules in King v. Burwell, Obamacare will continue to inflict harm on patients and taxpayers until it is repealed and replaced with sensible, patient-centered reforms.
Last week, President Obama reiterated that he had no alternative plan in place in the event that the Supreme Court rules against the administration in this case. On top of that, he flippantly stated that “Congress could fix this whole thing with a one-sentence provision.”
Mr. President, nothing could be further from the truth.
The problems with Obamacare are so fundamental and convoluted that the idea that the entire law could be fixed in one sentence borders on laughable.
The President and his allies here in Congress have gotten pretty good at cherry-picking favorable data points in order to claim that Obamacare is working. But, the overall numbers don’t lie.
Earlier this month, the administration announced proposed rate hikes of 10 percent or more for health insurance plans that enroll more than six million people in 41 states. This is just the latest premium hike patients and consumers have seen under Obamacare, despite the fact that the authors of the law – including the President himself – promised it would bring costs down.
The failure to reduce costs isn’t the only broken promise we’ve seen with Obamacare.
Millions of Americans lost their insurance plans and their doctors due to the overly burdensome mandates embedded in the law.
Many of these same people were forced to navigate a failed website that jeopardized their private information.
Others were forced to purchase plans that included coverage they didn’t need or want.
As a result of this misguided law, many hardworking taxpayers received incorrect tax documents relating to their premium subsidies, followed by a surprise tax bill.
And just yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General issued a report noting that the administration did not have systems in place to ensure that Obamacare credits that went out last year were accurate. This vulnerability may be leading to untold billions in fraud, waste, and abuse.
I could go on, Mr. President. The problems and hardships associated with Obamacare have been well documented, and none of them can be solved with a one-sentence bill.
Millions of Americans have already suffered under Obamacare. And if, over the next few weeks, the Supreme Court confirms that the administration broke the law by offering subsidies on federal exchanges, millions more will face the negative consequences of this poorly drafted statute.
In fact, a study published today by Avalere shows these consumers could face annual premium contribution increases of $3,300 in 2015.
Fortunately, Republicans in Congress have a transition plan to protect these patients. Indeed, there is a wide consensus that, should the court rule against the government in King v. Burwell, we need to act to protect Americans from further suffering at the hands of Obamacare’s broken promises.
Toward that end, I support a transition plan that provides temporary financial assistance to those who could lose subsidies as a result of the Court’s decision – to help them keep their insurance if they want it.
At the same time, the transition plan should peel back Obamacare’s burdensome mandates, give individuals more flexibility to purchase coverage that meets their needs, and give states the ability to develop policies that better serve their citizens.
This temporary transition should build a bridge that gets us away from Obamacare and puts us on a path toward lasting, patient-centered reform. Of course, this ultimate goal will likely have to wait until we have a new administration in place, one that is willing to actually work with Congress to address the actual needs of patients and taxpayers.
Despite the claims of uninformed critics, Republicans in Congress have been working for months to ensure that a transition plan will be ready when the Court delivers its ruling. And, make no mistake, we will be ready.
At the same time, Republicans in both chambers have worked together to put forward substantive and workable alternatives that would permanently replace the President’s health care law with reforms that increase patient choice and reduce the role of the federal government in healthcare.
I am a co-author of one such plan, Mr. President. It’s called the Patient CARE Act. I, along with Chairmen Alexander and Upton, released the latest version of this plan earlier this year. The plan has gotten high marks from a number of analysts and publications.
So, while it’s a common refrain among the supporters of Obamacare that chaos will ensue if the Court rules against the government in King v. Burwell, the facts tell a much different story.
Republicans in Congress will be ready to respond quickly and decisively to any possible outcome.
Now, let’s be clear, Mr. President: None of us know how the court is going to rule in this case. I’ve heard analysis and predictions that vary across the board.
But, no matter how this particular case turns out, we know for certain that Obamacare has been a dismal failure for American patients and hardworking taxpayers. This entire case is yet another reminder of how, more than five years after it was signed, this law continues to cause problems.
No matter how the Court rules in King v. Burwell, we need to chart a different course on health care for the American people.