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Barr Statement: Field Hearing on "Health Care Challenges Facing Kentucky's Workers and Job Creators"
As prepared for delivery.

I’d like to thank everyone for coming today and participating in this field hearing. I’d especially like to thank the House Education and the Workforce Committee for its interest and willingness to come to Lexington, Kentucky to hold this hearing. Thank you to Chairman Roe, Congressman Guthrie, and Congressman Yarmuth for traveling to the Sixth District so that we can continue to assess the impact of the Affordable Care Act – commonly known as Obamacare – on American families and employers.

Finally, I’d like to thank all the witnesses with us today.  You are the most important part of this hearing because you can provide vital, first-hand insights into the health care challenges facing workers and small businesses. We are here to listen to what you have to say.

It’s clear that cracks in Obamacare are growing and getting deeper. Slowly but steadily, the Administration and its supporters have reluctantly had to acknowledge the shortcomings of the law. In the past few weeks and months, we have seen the news stories about problems with the implementation of Obamacare; we have seen front page stories about massive rate increases in the insurance market; and we have all heard about the Administration’s decision to temporarily delay for one year the implementation of the law’s employer mandate.

While I certainly welcome the Administration’s interest in saving businesses from Obamacare’s costly and burdensome mandates, this does raise a number of questions that are central to the viability of the law: 
  • If the employer mandate is simply so unworkable that it needs to be delayed until after 2014 – nearly five years after the President signed it into law – why should employers believe that this mandate will become any more acceptable in 2015 and every year thereafter?

  • Why not provide for a permanent delay of the employer mandate, as opposed to holding the specter of its implementation over the heads of employers?

  • Finally, if a reprieve from Obamacare’s mandates is going to be provided to America’s businesses, shouldn’t America’s families also receive that same benefit of delay from the high costs of Obamacare? 

Now, my opposition to Obamacare is not a partisan one – it’s not simply because the President is a Democrat and I’m a Republican. My opposition is simply because I believe that Obamacare is bad policy for the American people.  Obamacare does nothing to lower healthcare costs, which are the main driver of our debt. Instead, the law will lead to massive job losses, the rationing of care, insurance policy changes, trillion dollar tax increases, increases to the national debt, violations of religious liberties, and higher health care premiums and costs on American families. In fact, despite the President’s promise that premiums would decrease by $2,500, the average family premium has grown by over $3,000 since 2008.

On top of all of this, it’s worth noting that young people are among those most punished by the law.  Reports indicate a rate shock for young adults under this law, with these individuals seeing premiums increase on average between 145 and 189 percent annually.

As you can all see, there are many different aspects to this law. I’m excited for today’s hearing though because it’s a great opportunity for us to dive further into one particular area: Obamacare’s impact on jobs.  One of my top priorities in Congress is getting Kentuckians back to work, and I believe that Obamacare stands firmly in the way of this goal.

As I have traveled around the Sixth District and spoken with employers throughout central and eastern Kentucky, a consistent theme I’ve heard is employers citing Obamacare as creating a severe chilling effect on their ability to retain and hire employees. And this is certainly not a sentiment exclusive to Kentucky. A March report from the Federal Reserve specifically stated, “Employers in several Districts cited the unknown effects of the Affordable Care Act as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff.”  Further, According to a study by the National Federation of Independent Business, an employer mandate like the one included in Obamacare could eliminate over one million jobs!

In addition to the lost jobs, there are also significant concerns with how Obamacare will lead to shifting more and more full-time workers to a part-time basis or to 29 hours. While this may seem odd and counterproductive, the law is unfortunately forcing employers to get creative in order to free themselves from its mandates and higher costs.

The bottom line is that Kentucky’s workers, families, and job creators deserve permanent relief from Obamacare, not a one year reprieve. I am hopeful that this hearing can play a constructive role in the process by shining a spotlight on the need to provide permanent relief from Obamacare. I look forward to hearing from the witnesses and again thank them for coming today to share their story.