McConnell on Obamacare: The American People Are Looking To Us For A Better Way

‘The people we represent deserve more affordable health insurance. They deserve improved health-care choice. They deserve a more flexible Medicaid system that can help improve outcomes for those in need. They deserve a more responsive health care market that trusts the American people to make more of their own choices — not the government. That’s what we’ve been fighting for throughout this debate. That’s what we’re going to keep fighting for today.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding efforts by Senate Republicans to provide the American people with a better alternative to Obamacare:

“Obamacare is a direct attack on the middle class. Seven years ago, Democrats imposed it on our country. In the years since, Americans have found themselves at the mercy of its failures repeatedly. Choice was supposed to go up but it plummeted. Costs were supposed to go down. They skyrocketed. Obamacare’s defenders spent years trying to deny these clear realities. When the weight of the evidence became too clear to ignore, some appeared to bemoan Obamacare’s harmful impact on our country.

“The Democratic Governor of Minnesota declared it ‘no longer affordable.’ President Clinton branded it ‘the craziest thing in the world.’ Other Democrats said similar things. Such acknowledgements of the obvious seemed like progress. But they turned out just to be rhetoric. In the last election, voters delivered Congress the opportunity to finally address the Obamacare status quo. And yet, Democrats made clear early on that they did not want to work with us in a serious, bipartisan way to actually do so. I wish they had made a different choice. I wish their sudden calls for ‘bipartisanship’ now were even somewhat serious. But this is the reality before us. We must accept it.

“And, as my Republican colleagues know, this is the charge we must accept as well. The American people are looking to us for a better way. That’s why, despite the headwinds, I choose to keep working toward a better solution than Obamacare. I’ve seen the pain in the eyes of too many of my constituents because of this law. I think they deserve better than what Obamacare has given them. I hope, in the end, that a majority of the Senate will agree. We’ve been continuing with ongoing conversations across the conference about how to get there. Members shared significant input over the state work period. We’re going to keep working hard. We will continue to focus on the fundamentals that have guided this process from the start — like improving the affordability of health insurance, and stabilizing collapsing insurance markets before they leave even more Americans without any options.

“We also want to strengthen Medicaid for those who need it most, by giving states more flexibility while ensuring those who rely on this program don’t have the rug pulled out from under them. Many states want the ability to reform their Medicaid programs so that they can actually deliver better care at a lower cost. Under current law, states have some ability to do so — Indiana has launched a particularly notable effort thanks to the leadership of now-CMS Director Seema Verma, and Ms. Verma has also helped states like Kentucky develop their own plans — but the process is still too restrictive, it hinders broader innovation, and it’s slow.

“Kentucky’s plan, for instance, still has not been approved by the federal government. The Senate’s health care legislation contains a provision to dramatically expand a state’s authority to improve its Medicaid system. It’s an idea that could significantly improve health care in states across the country. As The Wall Street Journal wrote in a recent editorial:

“‘This booster shot of federalism could become the greatest devolution of federal power to the states in the modern era,’ the paper wrote. It could ’launch a burst of state innovation.’

“In the Journal’s view: ‘Introducing many competing health-care models across the country would be healthy. California and South Carolina don’t—and shouldn’t—have to follow one uniform prototype designed in Washington, and even a state as large as California doesn’t have the same needs from region to region. If nothing else the repeal and replace debate has shown that liberals, conservatives and centrists have different health-care priorities, and allowing different approaches and experimentation would be politically therapeutic. The more innovative can become examples to those that stay heavily regulated.’

“It’s clear that we have an important opportunity to achieve positive things for our country. It’s also clear that, if we let this opportunity pass us by, the options left are not good ones. The Senate Democratic Leader acknowledges that Obamacare isn’t working the way they promised. But his ‘solution,’ as he noted in a statement last week, is simply more money for insurance companies. No reforms, no changes, just more money to paper over the problems with the law.

“It’s a multi-billion dollar Band-Aid, not a real solution. Senator Sanders acknowledges that Obamacare isn’t working too. But his ‘solution,’ as he said again over the weekend, is to move to the kind of fully government-run ‘single payer’ system that was already abandoned in his home state of Vermont, that 80% of voters recently rejected in Colorado, that even the California Legislature and its huge Democratic majority is finding hard to swallow. Is it any wonder?

“The so-called ‘single-payer’ plan Senator Sanders proposed in his presidential campaign would strip Americans of so many facets of decision-making over their own health-care and hand it to the government. It would require almost-unimaginably high tax increases. And the cost, according to a recent analysis by the Urban Institute, stands at an astounding $32 trillion. Trillion with a ‘T.’

“That represents a greater sum than the entire economy of the most-populous nation on earth: China. More than Japan’s economy too. And Germany’s. And Britain’s. And France’s. Same with Italy’s, Brazil’s, India’s, and Canada’s. In fact, the cost of Senator Sanders’ health-care plan is projected to be roughly equal to the size of all nine of these countries’ economies — combined! It would total more than the entire economy of the European Union — twice over! If you laid out 32 trillion one-dollar bills end to end, they’d stretch from the Earth to Neptune. It took the Voyager 2 spacecraft 12 years to reach Neptune.

“But that is the government-run ‘single-payer’ plan put forward by the most famous proponent of the idea. Many in the Senate Democratic Leadership now support ‘single-payer’ too. And, these days, increasing numbers on the Left seem to openly comment on the failures of Obamacare, as if they see an opportunity to finally realize their left-wing dream of total government dominance of the health-care system.  That’s the dream of many on the other side in this body. That, however, will not happen if we succeed in our charge today. Americans deserve better than what they’re getting under Obamacare. They deserve better than what they’d get under an even more government-heavy system. They also deserve better than just a Band-Aid solution.

“The people we represent deserve more affordable health insurance. They deserve improved health-care choice. They deserve a more flexible Medicaid system that can help improve outcomes for those in need. They deserve a more responsive health care market that trusts the American people to make more of their own choices — not the government. That’s what we’ve been fighting for throughout this debate. That’s what we’re going to keep fighting for today.”

Related Issues: Health Care, Obamacare