During Saturday’s GOP Weekly Address, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said, while discussing Obamacare, “In order to avoid a near collapse of our nation’s health insurance market, we need a Republican Congress next year.”
Transcript as Follows:
“I’m Senator Lamar Alexander, from Tennessee.
When Tennesseans woke up on Wednesday morning and opened up our state’s largest paper, the front page headline read ‘Very Near Collapse.’
The story wasn’t about a bridge or a foreign dictatorship. ‘Very Near Collapse’ was our state insurance commissioner’s description of the Obamacare exchange in Tennessee, which more than 230,000 Tennesseans used to buy health plans last year.
What does ‘Very Near Collapse’ mean in the real world? This November, when Tennesseans are signing up for 2017 Obamacare plans, there will be fewer plans to choose from—and they’ll be much more expensive. That picture will be the same for many Americans across the country.
Next year, Tennesseans will be paying an intolerable increase—on average between 44 and 62 percent more for their Obamacare plans than they paid last year. Even for a healthy, 40-year-old, non-smoking Tennessean with the lowest-price silver plan on Tennessee’s exchange, premiums increased last year to $262 a month. Next year, it’s $333 a month.
And if you, the policyholder, don’t pay all of it, then you, the taxpayer, will, because a large portion of Obamacare premiums are subsidized with tax dollars.
Tennessee had to take extreme measures to allow these increases because insurance companies told the state if you don’t let us file for rate increases, we will have to leave. If that happened, Tennesseans might have had only one insurer to choose from.
That’s what’s happening in states all over the country, as Obamacare plans and rates get locked in for next year.
According to consulting firm Avalere Health, Americans buying insurance in one-third of Obamacare exchange regions next year may have only one insurer to choose from.
People buying on Obamacare exchanges will have only one insurer to choose from in five states next year: Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Politico reports that one Arizona county is “poised to become an Obamacare ghost town” because no insurer can afford to sell health plans on the region’s Obamacare exchange. This leaves 9,700 people in Pinal, Arizona, with no Obamacare plan options in 2017.
Before Obamacare ever became law, Republicans warned President Obama and Democrats in Congress that this would happen.
In February of 2010, I spoke for Republicans at a White House summit on health care and warned President Obama that premiums for millions of Americans with individual insurance would rise under his proposal.
But warnings are not much use now. Americans need action.
As Tennessee’s governor said this week: ‘The federal government needs to come in and address the situation. They created the program and so they’re going to have to address that’
In other words, the next Congress—no matter who is president—will have to deal with the mess that Obamacare is causing in our states and the pain it is causing the American people.
Americans have a choice this election.
You know exactly what Democrats will do if they are in charge. Democrats will increase Washington’s control of your private health insurance choices. Democrats will spend more of your taxpayer dollars to prop up the collapsing Obamacare exchanges.
Republicans have offered a better idea.
We want to help Americans struggling with the cost of health insurance immediately. We would do that by giving states more flexibility to give individuals and their families options to purchase lower-cost private health insurance plans outside of Obamacare.
The problem of solving Obamacare takes more than a five-minute radio address. But helping Americans struggling to buy private health insurance plans is something we ought to do immediately.
In order to avoid a near collapse of our nation’s health insurance market, we need a Republican Congress next year.”
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett