WASHINGTON, D.C. | March 1, 2017
"It’s in a death spiral.” That’s how Aetna’s chief executive Mark Bertolini recently described the Democrats’ failed health care law. Citing higher premiums and insufficient enrollment among young, healthy individuals, Mr. Bertolini predicted that more insurers will quit Obamacare next year. When they do — as they’ve done year after year — families will find it even harder to access the doctors they want and the affordable coverage they need.
A death spiral. That’s the honest assessment of someone who has looked closely at the facts and who can’t ignore reality. Of course, there are those who are still living in an alternate reality, and they are trying desperately to protect a law that is wreaking havoc on families and small businesses across the country.
Powerful special interest groups are peddling scare tactics and doing all they can to defend the status quo. One prominent organization in particular is promoting a manual that includes tips on how to disrupt town halls. The manual recommends to “grab seats at the front half of the room, but do not all sit together” in order to “reinforce the impression of broad consensus.” It even asks activists to boo Republican members of Congress.
All of these desperate tactics are aimed at protecting a failed law that has resulted in nearly 5 million Americans losing the health care they liked and were promised they could keep. A failed law that has left millions of Americans with access to just one insurance provider. A failed law that has caused countless families to lose access to the doctors they trusted. A failed law that has forced health care costs to skyrocket and destroyed hundreds of thousands of small business jobs.
Ultimately, they are fighting to maintain government control; government control over the kind of health insurance you can buy; government control over the kind of health insurance employers can and cannot offer workers; government control over the doctors you can see and the doctors you can’t see; and government control over certain health care benefits that many individuals may not need.
Yet, despite the costs and pain inflicted on so many Americans by Obamacare, the answer for some is still more government control. We believe there is a better way, and that is what the legislative proposals we will discuss today are all about.
We believe patients — not Washington bureaucrats — should be in charge of their health care decisions. We believe employers should have more choices — not fewer — to provide their workers with access to affordable coverage. We believe small businesses should be empowered to negotiate for the best coverage at the best possible price for their employees.
I expect the sponsors and our witnesses will discuss in greater detail the specifics of each legislative proposal, but all three are designed to promote more choices, more flexibility, greater access, and lower costs. That’s exactly what the American people need.
We are at a crossroads right now when it comes to our nation’s health care. When people — through no fault of their own — are experiencing pain and havoc created by the Obamacare death spiral, the only responsible thing to do is provide relief. We simply cannot continue down the unsustainable path we are on and sit back and watch as this fundamentally flawed law collapses under its own weight.
We must change course. That’s why House Republicans are on a rescue mission not only to save families struggling under Obamacare, but also to deliver the meaningful health care reforms the American people have demanded for years. Today, we are taking an important step in this process by examining a number of commonsense solutions that will help more Americans access high quality, affordable health care.
I want to thank my colleagues — HELP Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg and Representative Phil Roe — as well as a former member of this committee, Representative Sam Johnson — for their leadership on several of the reforms we will discuss today.