WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at today’s Full Committee hearing on Rising Health Insurance Premiums Under the Affordable Care Act.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Over six years have passed since President Obama and Democrats in Congress drafted the Affordable Care Act behind closed doors and forced it into our homes, workplaces, and doctors offices.
“Since then, the law has been one broken promise after another – starting with the promise in its very title: ‘Affordable.’
“Millions of Americans have seen the cost of health care increase to astonishing levels while quality, choice, and access have hit new lows.
“Meanwhile, the White House refuses to acknowledge that Obamacare is simply failing ahead of schedule, and that the pain it has inflicted so far may be nothing compared to what lies ahead for millions of Americans and their families.
“So we’re holding this congressional hearing today to make clear that Obamacare’s broken promises have real impacts on real people.
“And because we care deeply about providing Americans with access to high-quality, affordable health care, House Republicans have released a detailed, credible plan for repealing the ACA and bringing patient-focused care back to the American people.
“The truth about this law is that it has never expanded access to affordable, high-quality health care of an individual’s choosing – and it never will.
“Estimates show that increases in 2017 could be double what we see this year and, in several states, these costs could spike by more than 50% with no end in sight.
“A 50% increase is outrageous.
“Americans simply cannot afford to pay 50% more for their premiums.
“One reason costs are skyrocketing is that enrollment is far lower and far more expensive to cover than projected. That’s why, in addition to raising premiums, many insurers have shrunk their provider networks. So, for individuals and families to purchase coverage, it costs more. And with that more expensive coverage, they get fewer choices and less access to doctors and providers who best meet their needs.
“Even after raising premiums and narrowing provider networks, many insurers are still struggling to shoulder the cost of doing business in Obamacare’s mandate-ridden marketplaces. Every month, we learn of more insurers who have decided to leave the flawed Obamacare Exchanges altogether.
“In April, UnitedHealth Group announced that it would be forced to exit many of the exchanges it was participating in because it could not sustain the crushing losses. After United leaves, 1.8 million Americans will only have two insurers to choose from, and 1.1 million will only have one. And some Americans – including thousands in my home state of Texas – may not have any insurer to choose from at all. In fact, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota has announced their exit from the state after suffering more than half a billion dollars in losses over just three years.
“I, like many of my colleagues, have heard countless stories from families who are deciding that it’s just not worth paying the high prices to get Washington-approved coverage. Instead they are choosing to pay a stiff tax penalty rather than buy a plan they can’t afford and don’t want.
“And it’s not just a few Americans – in states like New York, Iowa, Colorado, Arkansas, Minnesota and South Dakota, more than 3 out of 4 people eligible to purchase exchange plans have found a way NOT to be covered in Obamacare. And Democrats tell us how wonderful this law is.
“I have no doubt we will hear today about families getting health insurance under Obamacare. But the reality for many of my constituents is that now they have to worry year-to-year about access to the right plan, access to the same team of specialists, and changes to out-of-pocket costs.
“What is the point of expanding coverage if you can’t afford or get access to care?
“Over the past year, I’ve received letters from Texas families that are caught in the middle of the downward pressures of Obamacare’s regulations and mandates.
“For example, specialty hospitals my constituents rely on are being squeezed out-of-network. I would like to enter into the record two Houston Chronicle articles, highlighting the struggles of families to get the specialized treatment they need. This is a direct result of Obamacare’s mandates and rigid rules.
“Americans have had enough of the Obamacare experiment in government-run health care. That’s why we are dedicated to repealing this flawed law and advancing patient focused solutions that truly expand choice and access to high-quality, affordable health care.
“I want to thank all of our witnesses for being here today. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we can work to make our health care system work better for the American people.
“People across our country all want the certainty of knowing they will have access to the care they need when they need it most. This is what Americans deserve, and it’s what our Committee will keep fighting to deliver.”