Editor’s Note: Mitch McConnell, a Republican who represents Kentucky, is the Senate majority leader. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
Mitch McConnell: Obamacare has been characterized by rising health care costs and broken promises
He says any honest agenda for improving health care must begin with removing Obamacare and replacing it with patient-centered reforms
Rising health care costs have become the hallmark of a partisan Obamacare law that was sold with promises to lower them. The Obama White House just announced that health care premiums will rise again this year for millions of Americans by an almost unbelievable 25% under Obamacare. And that’s just a national average. Many Pennsylvanians face hikes in their health premiums as high as 55%; Oklahomans up to 69%, and Arizonans as much as 116%.
Behind these numbers are the stories of families and individuals struggling just to make ends meet already. Take one Kentucky mom who recently wrote my office about rising premiums that she says more than doubled for her family since they were forced into Obamacare.
These ever-increasing premiums, she said, are “not the American Dream for me and many Americans.” Many Kentuckians like this mom have felt the brunt of Obamacare’s increasing costs.
In fact, people in my home state recently learned that Obamacare premiums could increase for some by up to 47% next year. These Kentuckians, like so many others across our country, are experiencing firsthand the broken promises of Obamacare.
Now, Obamacare’s champions will argue that “subsidies” offset some of these premium increases for some people, but what they won’t tell you is where those “subsidies” come from: your pockets. “Subsidies” is just a nicer way to say “middle-class taxpayers will pay for it.”
Under Obamacare, that has meant higher costs for taxpayers – on things like health insurance, prescription drugs, and medical devices – and Medicare cuts that hurt hospitals and nursing homes.
And none of this changes the fact that Obamacare continues to significantly drive up health care premiums and out-of-pocket costs after its champions said it would make them lower.
Premiums certainly didn’t go down by $2,500 per family as President Obama promised in his run for office, but instead continue to skyrocket across the country. And these increases don’t tell the full story, either. Deductibles are increasing, out-of-pocket costs are growing, and costs to taxpayers are falling squarely on the shoulders of the middle class – all thanks to Obamacare. One report even revealed that health care costs rose in August by the highest amount in more than 30 years.
It’s no wonder Americans named health care costs as their top financial concern in a survey released just this year. It also explains why some Americans have given up altogether on health insurance and opted to take their chances going uninsured and paying Obamacare’s penalty instead.
The simple truth is that Obamacare is a direct attack on the middle class. It’s raising health care costs by previously unimaginable levels, and it’s hurting the very people it was intended to help. No wonder a Democratic governor just said Obamacare is “no longer affordable for an increasing number of people,” and no wonder Bill Clinton himself called Obamacare “the craziest thing in the world.”
Health care costs are rising rapidly just as health care choices are contracting at a similar gallop. When the Obama White House admitted this week that premiums would go up by 25%, it also admitted that the typical number of available health plans would decline by a third on the Obamacare exchange.
In fact, about 1 in 5 consumers will now have only a single choice of insurer under Obamacare. And thousands of Americans will lose health plans they were promised they could keep, again because more and more insurers are being forced out while co-ops continue to collapse at every turn.
Americans were promised health costs would go down, but they’re going up. Americans were promised health competition and choices would go up, but they’re going down. Americans were promised they could keep the health plans they liked, that taxes wouldn’t go up on the middle class, and that shopping for Obamacare plans would be as easy as Amazon.
None of it was true.
Yet Democrats are now asking Americans to trust them to “fix” the very problem they created. They’re calling for a government-run health scheme, Obamacare 2.0, that would double down on the same strategies that have failed already. This is little more than a recycled bad idea, and it gets things precisely backward.
The answer to Obamacare’s woes is not piling on even more Obamacare, as some of our colleagues across the aisle may suggest. Any honest agenda for improving health care must begin with removing the law that’s making things worse in the first place, then replacing it with patient-centered reforms.
This is an essential truth and one we urge Democrats to finally acknowledge, so we can move together toward serious solutions – not more of a failed partisan experiment – for the countless middle-class families Obamacare continues to hurt every day.