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Rounds Speaks on Senate Floor on 7th Anniversary of Obamacare

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) yesterday spoke on the Senate floor on the 7th anniversary of Obamacare being signed into law by then-President Barack Obama.

Rounds’ remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, I rise today to discuss the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, on its 7th anniversary of being signed into law by our previous president, Barack Obama.


Looking back on what has happened to health care over the past seven years, there isn’t a whole lot of good news to report:


Since that time, Americans have been hit with hundreds of billions in new taxes, health care costs have risen exponentially and families have struggled with fewer options and reduced access to health care services. 


Just in the last year, health insurance premiums have gone up 25 percent for the typical Obamacare plan.


That number is even higher in my home state of South Dakota, where premiums have increased 37 percent.


Obamacare has also driven health insurance companies to completely leave the marketplace, leaving Americans with fewer insurance options.


Again I will use my own state as an example: under Obamacare, the number of companies offering insurance in the individual market in South Dakota has dropped from 13 to a mere 2 today.


While this is unfortunate, we are better off than folks in Alaska, Alabama, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming – who have no options at all as only one insurer offers plans on the exchange.


This is also the case for more than 1000 counties across the nation – a third of all counties in total.


As a result of these skyrocketing costs and reduced options, the number of Americans enrolling in Obamacare continues to drop dramatically.


Projections continue to be millions fewer than predicted.


Between 2016 and 2017, nearly half-a-million fewer Americans signed up for the exchange.


All of this has barely moved on the number of uninsured South Dakotans between 2010, when Obamacare was enacted, and today.


So the health insurance market was crippled, premiums have skyrocketed for hard-working families and our economy has suffered tremendously under the ACA – only to have the same number of insured and uninsured individuals in my home state as before we started.


Nationwide, Americans are rejecting Obamacare in record numbers.


We saw this rejection of Obamacare repeatedly over the past seven years when the American people elected into office candidates who – at least in part – ran on the platform of repealing Obamacare. 


And our economy has suffered tremendously.


Obamacare’s higher taxes, fees and penalties on businesses and investors have taken a toll.


Meanwhile, consumers - who are facing Obamacare’s higher premiums and deductibles - have less to spend on goods and services.


With one-sixth of our economy tied to health care, this has been detrimental to growth and opportunity. 


It has also been easy to see how the health care industry has rejected Obamacare over the past seven years, with many insurers pulling out of the market, and in other places the markets collapsing all together.


This limits competition and leaves little room for innovation in the health care industry, which is why Obamacare is failing to control the cost of health care in America.


Cost control is a crucial component of providing truly affordable health care, and that begins with the elimination of Obamacare’s added bureaucracy and paperwork.


We must get government out of the way and allow the competitive market to work.


And that is what we are seeking to do with Obamacare’s replacement, which is expected to receive a vote in the House later today.


Since we started the process of repealing and replacing Obamacare, my office has received a number of calls and emails from South Dakotans who expressed concerns.


I want to make clear to them and to all Americans that during the period in which we transition away from Obamacare and toward a more affordable, competitive system, we understand that continuation of coverage is an essential component.


And we will include:


  • guaranteed renewal of coverage;
  • portability of coverage for those who change jobs or leave the work force by retiring;
  • a ban on lifetime limits, because if you bought insurance, you shouldn’t run out of insurance;
  • the provisions of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.
  • no exclusions on pre-existing conditions if you maintain insurance from policy to policy without lapses, and
  • provisions to allow children to remain on their families’ plans until the age of 26.


We understand that there is a way to retain all of these positive provisions, which are vital to assuring continued health insurance coverage for all American families who want it, while also providing a fair and open marketplace that provides for strong, healthy competition.


This, in turn, will bring affordable, efficient health insurance with innovative products that will actually help control the cost of care.


And that is what the GOP alternative –while still far from perfect – is seeking to do.


One thing we do know: the end result will be better than Obamacare.


Mr. President, as a father and grandfather, I understand how important it is to have access to affordable health care.


No one should be priced out of health care coverage for their families.


But our current system isn’t working.


After seven years of Obamacare, the American people are dealing with higher health care premiums, fewer options, more taxes and reduced access to care.


And health providers are struggling with more bureaucracy; more time spent filling out paperwork, instead of caring for patients, frustrated by the Obamacare’s crippling new regulations.


As I’ve said time and time again, Obamacare is a rapidly sinking ship and there is no hope for recovery.


On its seventh anniversary, it is hurting more people than it is helping and must be repealed and replaced before it totally crumbles under its own weight.


Thank you, Mr. President, I yield the floor.



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