Alexander: Democrats Already Busy Finding Someone to Blame for Rising Obamacare Premiums

Posted on May 8, 2018


** Click here or on the above picture to watch Senator Alexander’s full remarks **

“Health insurance rates didn’t start increasing when President Trump took office, they’ve been increasing since Obamacare took effect five years ago.”

WASHINGTON, May 8 — Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said on the Senate floor that Democrats are “already busy finding someone to blame,” after they blocked a proposal that could have helped avoid a sixth straight year of insurance rate increases since Obamacare took effect. Alexander said that since Democrats wrote the law, “they should look in the mirror.”

“About 10 days ago, Senator Schumer came to the Senate floor and warned that very soon, health insurance companies will begin to announce their proposed rates for the year 2019 in each state across the country, and that when they do, many health insurance companies will propose rate increases. Today, several Democrat senators made the same charge. And of course they blame President Trump and Republicans in Congress. It’s a little like if you sold someone a house with a leaky roof and you tried to blame the new owner for that leaky roof,” Alexander said today.

Alexander continued: “Democrats built this house with a leaky roof. They built these individual insurance markets where no one can find insurance. They wrote the sloppy law and they failed to make the markets competitive, they erased the ability of consumers to have choice, they didn’t follow the law when they paid out the cost-sharing reduction payments, and – this is the very worst – when Republicans hadn’t reached agreement on repeal, and were prepared instead to stabilize these markets and lower premiums by as much as 40 percent next year – Democrats blocked our efforts. So not only are they complaining about the slow pace of repairs, they are blocking the repairs from happening.”

“What Democrats didn’t say, but every American very well knows, is that health insurance rates didn’t start increasing when President Trump took office, they’ve been increasing since Obamacare took effect five years ago.”

In March, Democrats blocked legislation that would lower health insurance premiums by up to 40 percent, according to the Oliver Wyman health care consulting firm. Alexander said then: “They are going to have a hard time explaining to working Americans who make $60,000 and pay $20,000 for insurance why they blocked cuts to premiums of $8,000 over three years.”

Alexander concluded today saying: “By their words and by their actions, what Democrats really were saying was: we won’t change one sentence of Obamacare, even parts that obviously are not working, and even when most of their caucus supports the changes… When Democrats blocked these proposals from being included in the Omnibus in March, I said, ‘Let’s look down the road. Insurance companies will announce their rates for 2019, and rates will continue going up instead of going down.’

“And this month, we are beginning to see the start of that as insurance companies begin to file rates. Millions of Americans will begin hearing about yet another premium increase for next year. Democrats could have worked with us to lower premiums by as much as 40 percent but instead choose to cling to an unworkable law. So now efforts to help Americans paying skyrocketing premiums will turn to the Trump Administration and the states…

“I am talking with Secretary Azar and Seema Verma, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, about other administrative actions they can take to give states more flexibility to help lower health insurance premiums, especially for the nine million working Americans who do not receive a federal subsidy in the individual market.

“I will be encouraging governors and state insurance commissioners to do everything they can to help repair the damage caused by the Affordable Care Act. And my own efforts will turn to other pressing health care issues including the opioid crisis, overall health care costs, electronic health care records, prescription drug prices and the 340B program.”

Click here for video of Senator Alexander’s speech.

Click here for Senator Alexander’s full prepared remarks.