ICYMI: Inhofe Comments on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), today spoke on the senate floor about Obamacare’s disastrous roll-out, repealing of Obamacare through reconciliation and the need to vote to protect life.
As prepared for delivery:
Mr. President, President Obama made many promises to the American people in 2010 about how Obamacare would improve healthcare for everyone. He said it was going to lower costs, expand access, and make healthcare more affordable for everyone. Yet, five years after this law’s passage, Obamacare has only increased premiums and deductibles, cut down employee work hours and threatened the religious liberty of many employers who are providing needed jobs in a slow economy.
Since Obamacare’s disastrous roll-out, I have listened to heartbreaking accounts of how Obamacare has negatively impacted middle-class Oklahoma families, whose budgets are taking the hardest hits. And the longer this law has been on the books, the worse the stories have become. Just like Oklahoman Fred Imel, whose premium is going from $1,100 per month, to $1,700. In fact it was just announced that next year, Oklahomans will see an average increase of 35.7 percent in premium prices – which is the highest in the nation.
In addition to this, Blue Cross Blue Shield notified 40,000 Oklahomans earlier this year that they will no longer offer their current plans and that policy holders will be forced to move to other plans in the two other networks in the state. Both plan options have fewer participating doctors, hospitals and other providers. In other words, access to care is going down for these people, all the while costs are going up.
At the same time, many other insurance companies are dropping out of the Affordable Care Act market altogether, leaving Oklahomans with even fewer choices, not more as President Obama had promised us back in 2010. In fact, nationwide, Obamacare offers, on average, 34 percent fewer providers than healthcare networks outside the exchanges.
But Obamacare isn’t delivering bad news just to Oklahoma. Across the nation, federally backed co-ops are going under due to Obamacare. On Oct. 16, the Wall Street Journal said that these cooperatives are “collapsing at such a rapid clip that some co-ops and small insurers are forming a coalition to consider legal action to try to change health-law provisions they blame for their financial distress.”
12 out of the 23 Obamacare established co-ops have gone under, leaving more than 500,000 currently insured Americans to find new insurance once again, or face a steep penalty from the federal government. These co-ops also received over $1 billion in taxpayer loans from the federal government, most of which will never get repaid.
Since the beginning of this Congress, I have cosponsored 12 bills to dismantle or fully repeal Obamacare, and my colleagues and I are committed to maintaining our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
This reconciliation bill is a step in that direction. The House passed reconciliation on October 23rd with a vote of 240-189. This bill repeals the major components of Obamacare, including: the individual and employer mandates. It also repeals the medical device tax and the Cadillac tax, which is a tax placed on certain high-value employer-sponsored health insurance plans.
The Senate reconciliation bill also takes repeal of Obamacare a lot farther by repealing $1 trillion in Obamacare taxes and will fully repealing the Medicaid expansion and all Obamacare subsidies by 2018.
Importantly, the reconciliation bill also prohibits federal funding for Planned Parenthood and instead uses the money that’s saved to increase funding for community health centers by $235 million in 2016 and 2017. With more than 9,000 community health centers, these facilities are better equipped to provide women with the health care they need when compared to the only 700 Planned Parenthood facilities nationwide.
This issue is of particular importance given the sting videos that were released over the last few months showing the lengths Planned Parenthood affiliates had gone to profit from the sale of fetal tissues following abortions.
Planned Parenthood is a private institution that largely serves urban areas. While abortion may not be the only service they provide, it is what they are primarily known for. Whether they have broken the law or not, the taxpayer money they currently receive would be better directed toward community health centers, where broader access is available to women anyway.
Life is one of the single most important issues we consider here in the Senate, and I am proud of what we have already done in this space this year. A few months ago, a majority of Senators voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Although the tally did not pass the 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster, it did show more than a majority of Senators support ending subsidies to the largest abortion provider in America. More important than the Senate’s view of this, a majority of the American people support protecting the life of the unborn. It is very important to me and my constituents that we do anything possible to protect the sanctity of life and that is among the top reasons why it is necessary to vote for this reconciliation bill.
We have the chance to end the federal financing of an institution that has chopped up babies and negotiated the most profitable price for their organs. There is no moral gray area here. Life is life and we must vote to support it.
With that, I urge my colleagues to support the reconciliation bill to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare so that we can begin the work of crafting real market-based healthcare reform that will actually lower costs and expand access by getting the federal government out of the healthcare business.