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Health Subcommittee Chairman Buchanan Opening Statement: Why Health Care is Unaffordable: Fallout of Dems’ Inflation on Patients & Small Businesses

March 23, 2023

As prepared for delivery.

“Thank you all for being here today. I’m excited to kick off the work of the Ways & Means Health Subcommittee for the 118th Congress with today’s hearing about the unaffordability of health care in America.

“Thirteen years ago today, former-President Obama signed the largest regulatory overhaul and expansion of federal health coverage since 1965.

“At the time, President Obama and Congressional Democrats made a lot of promises in the lead up to the passage and signing of Obamacare.

“Then-Vice President Biden claimed that it was a “big deal,” and unfortunately, he was right.

“It has accelerated health care costs faster than at any point in the last 50 years, and created an unworkable federal bureaucracy that took away control from patients and their doctors.

“Luckily, since then, Congressional Republicans and former-President Trump worked to undo much of the damage caused by the bill’s signing. House Republicans have dismantled many of the worst parts of Obamacare over the last thirteen years:

  • Repealing the disastrous “individual mandate”
  • Repealing the “Cadillac Tax”
  • Repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board so our seniors can keep access to their care

“Since 2010, however, Congressional Democrats and now-President Biden have done everything they can to artificially prop up the Obamacare exchanges. The Congressional Budget Office’s initial estimates for enrollment were off by one-third, yet Democrats continue down this road and called it a success.

“The only time enrollment has come close to the original projections was after Democrats spent billions of dollars to make coverage essentially free for anyone making up to almost $90,000 a year.

“In spring 2021, the American Rescue Plan included generous subsidies to convince people to sign up for Obamacare plans. While the number of enrollees increased, those subsidies caused health care spending and inflation to further accelerate.

“They doubled down last year with the Inflation Reduction Act – which has instead continued fueling our current level of inflation – by extending these federal subsidies through 2025. If Obamacare coverage is what people wanted, we wouldn’t have to bribe them to sign up for it.

“Instead of just throwing more federal tax dollars at the problem, we need to come up with real reforms to our nation’s health care system – both delivery and coverage of care – and put patients and doctors back in charge of the decision-making, not federal bureaucrats.

“Instead of the government telling patients what they need, we must continue our work to help our constituents get the right coverage for their families.

“For example, Republicans have promoted the use of Association Health Plans for small businesses to group together and provide coverage to their employees.

“We also returned the definition of short-term limited-duration insurance plans to what it was before President Obama changed it at the end of his administration.

“While there is no single answer to bringing down the ballooning cost of health care in America, increasing competition, reducing government meddling and putting patients and doctors back in charge is a good place to start.

“I worked with my Republican colleagues on Speaker McCarthy’s Healthy Future Task Force to come up with a patient-centered vision of how to reduce the government’s involvement in medical decisions. This hearing is the first step to implementing many of those ideas.

“The Task Force spent over 18-months meeting with numerous stakeholders – provider groups, patient groups and others in the health care sector – to gather recommendations on how to address the high cost of health care.

“Congressional Democrats negotiated Obamacare behind closed doors – and I introduced a resolution to require those negotiations take place under the watchful eye of the American public – with then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi ramming through the $1.2 trillion bill through arm-wringing and secret side deals.

“House Republicans, on the other hand, have worked to address the shortcomings of our nation’s health care system through open discussions with the very people who will be impacted by Congress’s decisions – our constituents.

“We are on an unsustainable path of health care spending, with over $4.3 trillion spent in 2021, accounting for nearly 20 percent of our GDP. It’s long past time to work together and find ways to rein in that spending while ensuring our constituents keep the same level of care they have come to expect.”