Alexander to Dr. Price: We Will Work to Rescue Americans Trapped in Collapsing Obamacare System, Build Better Systems

Posted on January 18, 2017

Obamacare repeal should take effect only when concrete, practical reforms are in place

“If your local bridge were ‘very near collapse,’ the first thing you would do is send in a rescue crew to repair it temporarily so no one else is hurt. Then you would build a better bridge, or many bridges… and as they are finished, you would close the old bridge.”

WASHINGTON, January 18 — At today’s Senate health committee hearing on the nomination of Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced simultaneously and concurrently as President-elect Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan have also suggested.

“To me, ‘simultaneously’ and ‘concurrently’ means Obamacare should be finally repealed only when there are concrete, practical reforms in place that give Americans access to truly affordable health care. The American people deserve health care reform that’s done in the right way, for the right reasons, in the right amount of time. It’s not about developing a quick fix. It’s about working toward long-term solutions that work for everyone.”

During the hearing, Alexander addressed the collapsing Obamacare exchanges in Tennessee and across the country and detailed his three-part plan to repeal and replace Obamacare simultaneously and concurrently.

“If your local bridge were ‘very near collapse,’ the first thing you would do is send in a rescue crew to repair it temporarily so no one else is hurt. Then you would build a better bridge, or more accurately, many bridges, to replace the old bridge. Finally, when the new bridges are finished you would close the old bridge.

We will first send in a rescue crew to repair temporarily a collapsing health care market so no one else is hurt.  Then, step by step, we will build better systems that give Americans access to truly affordable health care. We will do this by moving health care decisions out of Washington, D.C., and back to states and patients.”

Alexander said Dr. Price was an excellent nominee and said he looked forward to working with him on rescuing Americans trapped in the failing Obamacare system and building better systems.

Alexander concluded: “Finally, when our reforms become concrete, practical alternatives, we will repeal the remaining parts of Obamacare in order to repair the damage it has caused Americans.  This is what I believe we mean when we say Obamacare should be repealed and replaced, simultaneously and concurrently.”

Senator Alexander’s prepared remarks are below:

Dr. Price, if confirmed to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as its Secretary, you will be running a $1.11 trillion organization.

You will be overseeing Medicare and Medicaid; mental and substance abuse programs, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the implementation of Obamacare.

Dr. Price, I believe you are an excellent nominee to do this job.

You were a practicing orthopedic surgeon for nearly two decades. You were a professor at Emory University School of Medicine, teaching resident doctors in training, and served as Medical Director of the Orthopedic Clinic at Grady Memorial Hospital. In the House, you were chairman of the Budget Committee and a leader in deliberations over the future of our health care system.

Following the presidential election, President-elect Trump said on "60 minutes" that replacement and repeal of Obamacare would be done "simultaneously." To me, that means at the same time.

And then recently Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said that repeal and replacement of Obamacare would be done “concurrently.”

And Senator McConnell has said that we need to do this promptly and in manageable pieces.

To me, “simultaneously” and “concurrently” means Obamacare should be finally repealed only when there are concrete, practical reforms in place that give Americans access to truly affordable health care.

The American people deserve health care reform that’s done in the right way, for the right reasons, in the right amount of time. It’s not about developing a quick fix. It’s about working toward long-term solutions that work for everyone.

One way to think about what “simultaneously” and “concurrently” mean is to think about Obamacare in the same way you would think about a collapsing bridge in your hometown, because that is just what is happening with Obamacare.

According to the Tennessee insurance commissioner, the Obamacare insurance market in our state is “very near collapse.” Across the country, premiums and co-pays are up and employers have cut jobs to afford Obamacare costs. Medicaid mandates are consuming state budgets. In one third of America’s counties citizens with federal subsidies only have a single choice of company to buy insurance from on Obamacare exchanges. Without quick action, next year they may have zero choices. Their subsidies may be worth as much as a bus ticket in a town where no buses run.

If your local bridge in Wyoming or Tennessee were “very near collapse,” the first thing you would do is send in a rescue crew to repair it temporarily so no one else is hurt.

Then you would build a better bridge, or more accurately, many bridges, to replace the old bridge. Finally, when the new bridges are finished you would close the old bridge.

That is how we propose to proceed: to rescue those trapped in a failing system, to replace that system with a functional market, or markets—as states develop their own plans for providing access to truly affordable health care—and then repeal Obamacare for good.

First, we will offer a rescue plan so the 11 million Americans who buy individual insurance now on the exchanges can continue to do so while we build a better set of concrete, practical alternatives.

Second, we will build better systems providing Americans with more choices of insurance that costs less.  Note I say systems, not one system. If anyone is expecting Senator McConnell to roll a wheelbarrow on to the senate floor with a comprehensive Republican health care plan they're going to be waiting a long time because we don't believe in that. We don't want to replace a failed Obamacare federal system with another failed federal system.

So, we will build better systems providing Americans with more choices of insurance that costs less.  We will do this by moving more health care decisions out of Washington and into the hands of states and patients and by reducing harmful taxes. And we will do this carefully, step by step, so that it is effective.

Finally, we will repeal what remains of the law that did all this damage and created all this risk.

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