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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 15, 2013 3:00am-5:01am EST

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this is going to cost me a lot more for something i don't even want." i'd like to read another short story from a couple in grand forks that got a notice on a marriage penalty that obamacare creates. she writes in "my husband and i met with the primary health insurance carrier in tornlg norh dakota and were told that our current coverage under the guidelines of the affordable care act will cost us at least another $400 a more a month and our deductible will increase from $2,000 to $12,000. and because we're married, we cannot choose individual plans, which would be a lower deductible. in essence, we're being punished for being married. we are looking at paying more than $1,500 a month in health
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care because we are only 61 years old and not eligible for medicare for another four years. $18,000 a year for health care. we were told that part of the problem is the provisions in the law require us to choose a plan that has maternity benefits. how does this make sense for seniors to be forced to buy coverage that does not apply to them? we agree that benefits should not be denied to peernling peopt it's not fair to be forced to buy coverage that doesn't even apply." mrs. fischer: i rise to speak on behalf of nearly 3,000 nebraskans who have contacted my office with their concerns about obamacare. their stories are, unfortunately, not unique.
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skyrocketing premiums and cancellation of plans, that they were promised that they could keep. curt from lincoln, nebraska, wrote to tell me he has seen his bluecross blueshield premium rise a shocking 300%. david, a father living in omaha, is face ago potential total increase of $16,000 a year for his family's coverage. $16,000. another constituent from bertrand, nebraska, will see his family's deductible more than double next year. how is this the affordable care act? an apology now won't help the hardworking nebraskans who have lost or who will soon lose their current coverage. one constituent wrote, "folks shouldn't need a second mortgage to pay for obamacare."
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i agree. i yield the floor. mr. barrasso: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: as the senator from wyoming, i get home every weekend, talk to peevment i was home this weekend for veterans day, and i was in the target store in casper, ran into a small business owner, has a small electric company that he runs, has about four people that work with him. he is somebody i was operated on, a former patient of mine. he told me that i was one of those 4 million americans who had gotten that letter that he had lost his insurance. he said, you know, the president promised that this would be easier to use than said, i can't get on. he said it would be cheaper than your cell phone bill. that's not the caissments the president said if you like what you have, you can keep it. clearly not the case. what's wrong with this? how can we fix it? i got another letter from a rancher, from new castle, wyoming. "we're ranchers, we're ranchers who buy our own health
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insurance. currently, we pay $650 a month for an 80-20 policy with a $3,500 dfnlt our maximum out-o out-of-pocket for family is $10,000 a year we don't carry maternity insurance because we've completed our family. i've had a hysterectomy. i recently called my insurance agent out of fear our policy would be canceled. he said it would be canceled at the renewal time. he told me that their policy didn't meet obama's requirement because of maternity coverage and they had aide have to choose a policy from the exchaifntle" remember, she's had a hysterectomy. she doesn't want or need or ever going to use maternity coverage. her insurance company quoted her rates to about $1,600 a month. they're now paying $650. the insurance agent also told me that they could take a bronze policy much less coverage than
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they currently have for $900, still $250 a month higher than they'd have to pay. but the out-of-pocket costs then was much higher, much more difficult for the family. she said, we're being forced tououtof a good policy which wey for with hard-earned money and which we choose into a dangerous financial health care situation with less coverage and which puts my husband and i, who are proud of our sustainability, on to what we consider the welfare rolls by needing a government subsidy to afford a plan that we don't want or neesmed t need. to say that we're angry is an understatement. we feel helpless. what are we supposed to do, just follow like sheep until we're either bankrupt or welfare recipients? this is not what the president of the united states promised the american people. it is not what every democrat in this body who voted for this health care law promised the american people.
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the american people deserve better. they deserve to be able to get the dhair they nee care that tha doctor they choose at lower costs. none of that has come true under this health care law. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. cochran: mr. president? the presiding officer: the sno car from mississippi. mr. cochran: the more my constituents learn about the administration's so-called affordable care act, the more it becomes clear that major changes should be considered. i recently heard from a constituent who had learned from accessing the obama administration's enrollment web site that the plan with the lowest cost available to him has a $7,000 yearly deductible, with a $12,000 out-of-pocket maximum and a premium of a little over $2,400 a month, nearly twice as
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much as he and his wife currently pay. this family is just one example of millions of americans who are suffering from sticker shock because of the cost of insurance plans on the president's new health insurance exchanges. the shock is made worse for those who are being rejected by the plans that they were told they could keep but now cannot. it's clear we need to urge the administration to consider going back to the drawing board. we should get together, too, here in the senate and find common ground that makes better sense for the american people. the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. a senator: thank you, mr. president. for the last three years we've heard president obama and our friends on the left, promise -- no, guarantee -- that obamacare will make health care insurance
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more affordable. but day after day we see costs going up for hard-, working families all across our country, not just the richest 1%, but middle-class americans. last week i heard from emily geiger, a wife and mother of three in charleston, south carolina, whose health insurance costs are seeing double-digit increases. mr. president, these are the faces of real people impacted by obamacare. they're not stats, they're not numbers, they don't get waivers, they're taxpayers, middle-income taxpayers. and obamacare is forcing many to choose between saving for college for these three little kids and paying for health care. they shouldn't have to choose.
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obamacare and are words we now know are synonymous with failure. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. boozman: i'd like to tell the story of a constituent that e-mailed me representative of what thousands are going through in arkansas. this mark from little rock. he wrote me after receiving his cancellation notice. here's what he had to say. "i recently received from bluecross blueshield that my individual health insurance policy will not be renewed after 2014 due to obamacare. although i am very happy with this policy, i'm being forced out of it after 2014. the alternative options of the affordable care act are not very affordable. the closest alternative plan will increase my deductible 25% and increase my monthly premiums 300% from $285 a month to $850 a
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month." mark goes on to note his current plan is bluecross which he describes is not a bad-apple provider and that he will be required to pay for the entire cost of this new plan out of pocket. these are all very serious problems with the program. certainly mark is not alone. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. burr: mr. president, i recently received a letter from cathleen stephan of fletcher, north, who wrote me to describe her experience with the affordable care act and the impact on her health care. i'd like to read her letter versus to paraphrase it. she said "dear senator burr: i recently received a notice from bluecross blueshield of north carolina that my health insurance policy will be canceled effective january 1, 2014, because it does not meet all the mandates under obamacare. my current premium is $418 a month. the replacement policy being recommended to me will cost $928
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a month, a 122% increase, and i don't qualify for subsidies. i have had continuous coverage with bluecross blueshield for many years, and i like my current plan. i'm a 62-year-old woman and will not benefit from the mandatory additions to my plan such asthma terpbt coverage -- such as maternity coverage, newborn and pediatric care. in the past having additional coverage provided a sense of security that my rates could not be raised based on a change in my health status. i experienced such a change in 2012 when i was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent seven months of treatment. now my rates are more than doubling. the security is gone not because of the change in my health but because of obamacare. when president obama was selling the affordable care act to the american people, he repeatedly promised if you like your health care plan, you can keep your
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health care plan. period. i'm writing to you today to tell you that i do like my plan, and i want to keep it. i'm asking for fairness for myself and for the estimated millions of other americans who have had their plan taken away by obamacare. sincerely cathleen stephan." mr. president, how do i answer cathleen's letter? i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from idaho. risch risch mr. president, every -- mr. risch: every one of us can tell thousands of stories. mine would come from a gentleman named clint w., a small business owner, received notice he wasn't grandfathered, was being canceled, premiums went to $1,200, he says he can't afford it and canceled the policy so he could save money for future
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medical expenses, and he's going to stay canceled as long as he possibly can. you know what struck me about this? i didn't get a lot of letters from poor people. i didn't get a lot of letters or contacts from rich people. where my contacts came from was middle-class america, which is what this country is. we are a middle-class country by and large, with a small sliver of rich people at one end and some people that are deserving of our help at the other end, but who are primarily affected by this are the middle class of america. my good friends on the other side try to claim that they are the party that represents the middle class of america. i don't know if they're getting the same letters that we are, but if they are they realize that they've done something horrible. they didn't do a plan here to help disadvantaged which the republican party has always helped with. what they have done is a social
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experiment which is collect ivism and socialism at its worst 0. it is offer kwrus it is a failure. -- it is obvious it is a failure. the american people over 200 years built up a successful insurance system and health care system in america and in three years this thing has been destroyed. there's 44 days left to make this thing work. if this isn't done right there's going to be a collapse come january 1, and the american people are going to know exactly who caused it. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: mr. president, one of the things that hasn't been discussed is the impact obamacare is having on medicare and medicare part-b -- medicare beneficiaries. in florida we have a significant number of people that are medicare beneficiaries and medicare advantage. my mom is a medicare advantage patient. i wanted to read briefly if i could a letter i received from a constituent of mine named
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michelle hatly who lives in destine, florida, which is in northwest florida. it is a letter she received regarding her existing doctors. she also got a letter from one of her providers that talks about the changes. let me read you the e-mail. she sent this. here's a copy of the letter i received from white wilson medical group. as i indicated in our conversation, sacred heart might be also affected. my medicare advantage plan was the medicare completeer thrup aarp and united healthcare. three of my doctors are with white wilson and three are with sacred heart. my rheumatologist who directs my treatment for two autoimmune conditions is with sacred heart and the only rheumatologist in destine. i'm legally blind so transport to another doctor out of town is difficult to arrange and expensive. of the plans that are available that will allow me to keep my
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doctors the annual out-of-pocket are significantly higher as well as deductibles, patient, prescription drugs and in patient care. my choice has been reduced to find all new doctors or enrolling in a different medicare advantage plan which will cost more. i wanted the senators to be aware that medicare clients are experiencing negative consequences from a.c.a. as well. since that time after this experience she has been able to find a plan that helps her avoid all six of her doctors including the five specialists and her primary care physician. this new plan is going up to an expected $9, 500. it was a tough decision for her to make but she ultimately decided to pay more money in order to keep seeing her doctors that have been treating her for the past four to six years. this is a real-life story of a medicare advantage recipient in this country whose out-of-pocket costs are going up because of obamacare. it is wrong. it is unfair.
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it should not stand. i yield the floor. ms. ayotte: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. ayotte: thank you, mr. president. i came to the floor yesterday to share so many stories that i'm receiving from my constituents about them receiving cancellations for policies that they wanted to keep, higher premiums under this law. each story is very sad, and i feel badly for the people of my state and across this country who are suffering under this law. my constituents are pleading for relief. here's just one example. a small business from peterb0oro, new hampshire, who voted for president obama twice told me her family has a household income of $50,000, and their total health insurance will now cost over $19,000 for the year. which is more than their more than. and their local hospital isn't even on the exchange because in new hampshire we only have one
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insurer on the exchange and 10 of our 26 hospitals have been excluded from that exchange. this constituent from peterboro wrote to me, "we are frustrated, afraid and angry beyond words. i urge a postponement of implementation of the affordable care act while those with the power look harder at the average american and come up with a better plan. life shouldn't be this hard." mr. president, citizens from across new hampshire and this country are crying out for relief. i hope the president will listen to them and call a time-out on this law so that we can come together and rather than what was done in this chamber -- passing a partisan law -- come together for bipartisan health care solutions. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: it's hard to narrow down the best story to tell. they are all bad stories, all
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terrible stories. but kansans too are struggling under the consequences of the passage of the affordable care act, and it bothers me so many times, it's suggested that this is just a problem with implementation. but the problems that americans and kansans are facing today really is the crux, the underlying basis for the provisions of the affordable care act. this is not a problem just with implementation. it is not just a computer problem. it's the theory on which the affordable care act was based. an example i'd like to describe to my colleagues in the senate is from a constituent in newton, kansas, right in the center of the state. he writes to tell me that we were notified by our health insurance carrier that our premiums on our small business plan were to increase 24% on our renewal date because of the coverage mandated by the affordable care act starting in 2014. as a small business owner in our late 50's, we have struggled to find affordable health care insurance for years. about two years ago we were able
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to sign up for a plan offered to small businesses through a well-known carrier. it's not a cadillac plan since we each had a $5,000 deductible and no coverage for maternity we didn't need, contraception we didn't need, but it covered the things we wanted and we did need. unfortunately the premium increase is going to put this plan in the unaffordable range once again. i've not yet been able to get on the few times i've tried it's either been down or locked up during access. as a business owner with employees and responsibilities, the time i have to spend messing around with a slow or nonresponsive web site is limited and expensive. mr. president, our constituents need help, and the affordable care act is what they need help from. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: the president
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promised the american people if you like your doctor you can keep him or her. promised if you like your insurance, you can keep it. but he needs to tell annie mangione and his family why they can't keep their insurance. they had an individual policy they were happy with. they paid $300 a month. they are now going to be asked to pay $900 a month for things they don't want and they didn't choose to have. this isn't really just about health care. this is about freedom of choice. this is about whether or not you can choose what type of insurance you want. the question is what's next? what choices will be taken from us? i'm going to be signing up for obamacare. i tried yesterday 15 times. i wasn't able to get beyond create an account because every time i pushed create an account, nothing happened. this is a real problem. five million people without insurance. the president said if you can keep your insurance, you should be allowed to.
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you can keep your doctor. something has to be done because the mangione family is going to have to pay three times as much for an insurance policy they don't want. we're taking their freedom of choice away. i for one say enough's enough. let's get rid of this. let's give back freedom to the consumer, give back freedom to kentucky families. in kentucky, ten times more families have been canceled than have actually gotten on. something has to give. mr. president, if you said we can keep our doctor, come forward and tell us why we can't keep our doctor. thank you very much. mr. cruz: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cruz: mr. president, millions across this country are
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losing their health care, are losing their doctors because of obamacare. in texas this past week, the office of american statesmen reported austin's largest provider of cancer treatment won't participate in the health insurance plans offered through the marketplace set up by the affordable care act. and indeed, they went on to quote "obamacare looked like sunshine on the horizon, and now it's a tornado." said one austin ao*eutd -- austinite who has breast cancer and is being treated at text oncology. in an upcoming issue texas medicines reference as survey by the medical group management association that says uncertainty has 40% of physician practices across the country pondering their participation in marketplace-based insurance plans.
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and by reducing their risk, texas oncology is passing a burden on to some already-stressed families, said seth winick. "it is an unwelcome burden and could seriously affect thousands of families who deal with cancer in our communities." if his family is forced to pay out of network rates to treat his wife, ha the family will hae to make some tough decisions. "we will make the financial sacrifice to purchase the best care we can afford and we hope is enough." but he continued, he had nothing positive to say about the people who provide care at texas oncology, but he also said, "expand health care coverage to people who don't have it is a noble goal, but the impact that has on those of us who do have it remains to be seen." folks in the individual market don't really know what is in
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store. mr. president, president obama promised the american people, if you like your health care plan, you can keep it. we noi knowe now know that prom. obamacare isn't working and it is time to start over. knack flakmr. flake: all of us e heard from hundreds of our constituents over the past few weeks who have had their insurance policies canceled or made unaffordable. i want to talk about greg, who i heard from earlier this week. greg and linda are in their late 50's, early 60's. they know what kind of policy they need. at the know what they don't need. they had a premium of about $400 under their old policy. they paid $440, to be exact.
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the new plan that they've been able to find that matches most closely with what they have now, after their other policy was canceled, would cost them just over $1,000, $1,055 to be impact. how is that affordable? the president promised, if you like your plan, you can keep it. if you like your doctor, you can keep it. -- him or her, period. that's not been the case. the president needs to explain to greg and linda and to hundreds of thousands of other arizonans who have losing their health coverage how it is that he sthaid they could keep it and at the now can't. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the snr from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, the president of the united states promised, if you like your plarntion you can keep it. we now all know that that simply wasn't true. though many of us have been
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saying this for years, many americans, including many in my state, are realizing the pain of the president's false statement. dave from utah says, my company just dropped the good insurance plan we've had for years due to obamacare. the affordable care act is costing me more money. i'm barely able to keep my family out of poverty, and now health care is going to cost me even more. please do something to change this. marcy from utah says, we own a small business in utah and we will be forced to cancel our insurance and ourselves go on obamacare. we can start over with a new way to fix our health care system, but starting over doesn't necessarily have to mean starting from scratch. we should take those lessons that we've learned and we should build around the concept of a market-driven, patient-centered health care system, one that empowers individual americans to choose their own health
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insurance based on their own personal needs and based on their own preamps. p than-- and based on their own preferences. thank you, mr. president. mr. graham: i have two stores stories that i have i'll quickly share. scott from goose creek, i am a college professor at a private university. we're up for our insurance open enrollment and i'm 35 imreers old, vegetarian, never smoked, ridiculously low blood pressure and cholesterol. oivelg obviously i have nothingn common with scott. "my premiums went up by 35% to 40%. my actual policy changed. my deductibles tripled. i cannot get regular monthly prescriptions at my pharmacy now. i'm sure there are other changes that i have not examined close enough to notice." tom
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thomas dugan from south carolina. after submitting his personal information on received a phone call from mr. just inhadley, a north carolina resident, who informed him that when he signed on to, he received all of mr. and mrs. dugal's personal information. this is beginning to be a very famous case. 572 people have been enrolled in obamacare in the state of south carolina. mr. president, obamacare is not working and i fear it will never work, and the best way to fix it is to repeal it and replace it with something that will work. i yield the floor. mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, to
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chamber that only substandard policies were allowed is a lie. the plan that i was on is a good policy. unquote. she does not trust the new web site and feels that there is not adequate security to protect our personal information. in her words, "i wouldn't touch the exchange with a ten-foot
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pole." she is not alone in feeling this way, which spells trouble for these new health care exchanges and for the pleas' the presidenh law. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the republican time is expired. mrs. boxer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: mr. president, we have seen an array of my republican colleagues come to the floor, which is their right, and i'm glad the government is open so they had their stay staff to help them prepare their speeches. this is typical of the republicans when this comes to health care. all they do is criticize and not one -- not one, because i monitored the speeches, gave one new idea of how to make sure that our citizens are protected with the insurance they have or how to insure the 48 million uninsured americans.
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not one. but this is the way the republican party has been for years. let's look at what happened when medicare came to the senate floor and to the house floor. medicare -- medicare, which is one of the most beloved programs, 60% of republicans in the senate and 50% of house republicans voted against medicare in 1965. representative durward hall, a republican of missouri, said, "we cannot stand idly by as the nation is urged to embark on an ill-conceived adventure in government, the end of which no one can seekers and from which the patient is certain to be the sufferer." this is typical of republicans through the generations. every time we've tried to expand health care they have aopposed it and opposed it and tried to derail it. senator milward simpson, republican of wyoming, said "i
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am disturbed about the effect this legislation would have upon our economy and upon our private insurance system." that's what they said about medicare. and they read horror stories. they read horror stories about it. now, here's what the republicans aren't saying. they are sthaig there i are stha problem with -- they are saying that there is a problem with the health care law, which needs to be fixed, which is that people who want to keep their substandard plans are having trouble keeping their substandard plans. now, president obama has already said he's going to fix that. there's legislation to fix that. we'll fix it. but that's not good enough for my republican friends. they just want to tear it down, just like they wanted to tear down medicare. more recently, they wanted to tear down medicare. so this is a not ancient histor. in 1995, dirk army, the
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republican house majority leader said, "medicare is a program i would have no part of in a free world." this is the republican sentiment about health care being offered to our people. the same year after leading an effort to raise premiums and costs for seniors, newt gingrich said, medicare was "going to wither on the vine." and now we have tea partiers standing there saying, hands off my medicare. okay? that's how out of touch the republicans are with where the people are. senate majority leader bob dole bragged in 1996, "i was there fighting the fight, voting against medicare ... because we knew it wouldn't work in 1965." and now paul ryan's budget ends medicare as we know it. so let's be clear. when you see almost the entire republican caucus come down here
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and try to repeal the affordable care act, this is not just stemming from today or yesterday or a glitch in the web site or a problem that we have that we have to fix about people losing their substandard plans, if they want to keep them, we'll if i can figure out a way -- we'll figure out a way to help them. notice they never said anything about the good that the affordable care act is doing for millions of people. because of the affordable care act -- mr. president, 3 million young adults are now insured on their parents' plan, yet they want to repeal the affordable care act. what's going to happen to those 3 million young adults? 71 million americans are getting free preventive care, like checkups, birth control, immunizations, 17 million kids with preexisting conditions like asthma and diabetes can no longer be denied coverage p. so, they want to talk about
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people who are having a problem? we're going to fix it. we think it is about 5% of the people, but even if it's 1% we should fix it. now, yesterday we learned that in the first month of the open enrollment period 106,000 or 1.4% of consumers are going to sign up. if you look at massachusetts, during its first month -- and, mr. president, i'm sure you're aware of this, being in new jersey, close to massachusetts, only 0.3%, or 123 people signed up for coverage out of the 36er,000 who ultimately signed up in the first year. so let's be clear. we all wanted to see bigger numbers, but the affordable care act numbers are four times better than what massachusetts did in its first month. if you talk to the people of massachusetts, they love their health care plan. and our plan is based on their plan. by the way, a republican plan.
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hundreds of thousands have started the enrollment proficiency and i'll onprocess,. i'm going to go shopping and buy my plafnlt but i'm taking my time because i have some time -- until december. i am going to discuss it with my husband. we're going to decide what's best for us. i'm going to sign up. you know, i think it was the secretary sebelius who said, this isn't like buying a toaster. this is a commitment for a year, and you've got to take your time. so don't come here and tear down the affordable care act without having to put anything i in its place and focus on one problem that the president said he's going to fix. and we're going to fix it. things are going to pick up. i want to tell you the great news about california. just in the first two weeks of november, california's enrollment has doubled. our story is a really good one. there's a huge amount of interest in california.
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people are enrolling. we do have a good web site. that's important. people are finding affordable care health options. at the end of the day, when the kinks are worked out, i believe the california experience will be repeated across the country to the benefit all our families. so let me break down some of the numbers from california. we havwe are the largest state e union and we're always -- i hate to say this to my friends here -- but we're always ahead of the curve. and during the month of october, 370,000 californians began the process of signing up for private coverage or medicaid through our health insurance marketplace, of those, over 30,000 californians enrolled in health exchange plans and over 72,000 applied for medicaid. so let me just say, we are off
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to an excellent start in california. in october, there were more than 2.4 million unique visits to coveredca. in other words, this doesn't count people going back and back. unique visits. and more than 249,000 calls were made to covered california call centers, and they've got it down to just a couple of minutes wait time. to date more than 17,000 counselors, agents, county workers and others have been certified to offer in-person assistance to californians. but look, you've heard the horror stories from over there. one side of the story, people having a problem, we're going to fix the problem. let me tell you and quote to you what californians are saying. these are all quotes. "i enrolled on line on monday! no web site troubles! took me about 15 minutes! i'll be saving $628 a month
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after january 1! so grateful!" unquote. very short wait on the phone. this is another. "helpful, cheerful person to talk to. this online app is very easy. thank you." and another, "the insurance package i'm getting is more comprehensive and way cheaper than the one i've had for the last nine years. thank you for creating the marketplace and making the information more accessible and understandable." another, "i find the new coverage provisions to be amazing compared to what was out there before. many of the plans are cheaper than anything i've seen before, and the one i chose has zero deductible." another, "simple, straightforward and intuitive. i haven't had health insurance since 1958, so this site has made it unexpectedly easy to enroll. thank you." what we heard from the
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republicans is from a group of people we're going to help who have substandard plans, they don't meet the standards of the affordable care act, sometimes they're called junk plans. some of are a little better than junk. many are not there when you need them. and people, i have to say, to come down here and echo that sentiment without saying the good things that have been done is outrageous. i'd ask for two more minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: so we now know the history. we now know because i shared with you the history of the republican party. sad to say it, but they oppose medicare when it went in, they tried to tear it down. they still are trying to tear it down in the ryan budget. they come down here and they talk about a problem that exists that we're going to fix.
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they never said the president's going to fix it. he may be on the way to fixing it in moments here. but they ignore the fact that the signups are ahead of where massachusetts was at this time. so let me close. sage mcallister told me how it was helping her family. she was able to get insurance for daughter leah born with an autoimmune daughter. sage said pw-fs the affordable care act was passed she applied to eight different companies to try to get insurance but none were affordable. after the law went into effect she was able to get insurance for leah. she was able to get treatment for a spinal cord problem that could have resulted in paralysis. sage said without the affordable care act, my family -- and this is a quote -- "would be bankrupt and leah wouldn't have gotten the health care she needs. obama saved my family from
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financial ruin, said another constituent, jeanie reid. here's the deal. let's be fair. come down to the floor one after the other and give, you know, shed light on one problem we're going to fix that the president said he's going to fix and then say you're going to repeal the whole thing, you sound just like your predecessors who said medicare, terrible idea. social security, awful idea. that's what this is about. we're going to make history here. we're going to do the right thing. we're going to fix the problems. and there will be more because that's what happens when you are tackling this big issue. but at the end of the day we will be a better nation, a healthier nation. our children will have a brighter future. and i'm just here to say i stand with those who want progress. i'm not going to tear something down like they want to do and go right back to where we were before, with parents like these
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having to choose between feeding their families and giving their kids health care. thank you, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. thank you, the senator from california for telling the stories of people in california which are not unlike the stories in connecticut, an exchange that is working. a flood of people signing up way above expectations from where we originally thought the numbers would be. i thank her as well for pointing out what is the reality, which is that over 40 times republicans in the house of representatives and in the senate have voted to repeal the health care reform law. and even well over the last five years using over and over again this mantra of repeal and replace, they've offered absolutely no replacement. mr. president, there was a story
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in one of the trade publications down here this morning saying that the republicans were just going to change their strategy. that instead of piling on repeal vote after repeal vote, they were now just going to come down to the floor and use their committee chairmanships to simply criticize the law and shell for the time being their incessant efforts to try to repeal the law entirely. but make no mistake, that continues to be their intention. well, they are going to come down to the floor of the senate as they did this morning and tell a handful of anecdotes about people who are dissatisfied with the law, their true intention is to get rid of the entire law and go back to a world in which 30 million people in this country have no access to insurance. that if you got sick, you'd lose your insurance, a world in which insurance companies essentially set the rules of the game to the disadvantage of providers and of
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patients. that's what the agenda is here. to repeal the law and go back to the status quo, which is unacceptable. the highest number of uninsured citizens in the str*eulzed world -- the industrialized world, the most expensive health care system by a factor of two to all of our g-20 competitors. i get it there are people who are unhappy, and the president is going to make an announcement later today which is going to set a path forward to try to fix one of the issues with the law with respect to the canceled policies. but let me tell you a couple other stories about what the reality of the old system was. kyle is today about 11 years old, but when he first came into my office he was an eight-year-old living with hemophilia. kyle is an amazingly brave young man who inspires courage in his
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parents. but kyle has to get three to four injections a week in order to treat his hemophilia, and each one of those injections costs $3,000. now his plan prior to health care reform had a feature in it that most people didn't know was included in their health care plan. that was a lifetime cap on the amount of money that his health insurance company would pay for his care. now because kyle was mounting up bills in the tens of thousands of dollars every week, his family was going to hit that cap very quickly and then be on the hook for those $3,000 injections that kyle needs to take three to four times a week. that was going to bankrupt kyle's family. they thank their lucky stars that we passed this health care reform law because now their insurance has to be real
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insurance. it protects them against their lifetime exposure of high lifetime costs. think about the burgers from connecticut. betty and her husband had insurance their entire life except for a two week period of time when betty's husband switched jobs. during that two-week period of time their son got diagnosed with cancer. because that was then a preexisting condition her husband's new insurance plan wouldn't cover their son's treatment. their story unfortunately can be told millions of times over across this country because the burgers went bankrupt. they lost their savings. they lost their house. they lost everything as they mounted up huge bills to pay for their son's cancer treatments just because he got diagnosed during a two-week period of time in which their family had no health care insurance. that practice ends with the implementation of this health care law. no sick person can be denied
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insurance simply because of a preexisting condition, simply because a diagnosis happened to happen during a small window of time in which your family didn't have insurance. i get it that the road has been a little bumpy as we have implemented this new health care system, but it is nothing compared to the bumps that have been encountered by millions of families across this country who have been abused by a system that simply does not work. the assistant majority leader is on the floor, so let me just close by talking about connecticut's experience. if our biggest problem is that enough people who don't have insurance aren't signing up quick enough for insurance, that's a problem that i will accept because it's a problem we can fix. if all we're talking about here is just the pace at which people are going from uninsured to
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insured, then we can fix that. we can fix that because we know the product is good. senator boxer talked about the massachusetts experience in which during the first month of their enrollment for the massachusetts exchange, only .3% of the total signed up during that month. why? because people take their time. this is not an easy decision to sign up for health care. but in connecticut, where we have an exchange that's been up and running, a web site that is working, in the first month you know what our number was? it wasn't .3%. we enrolled 10% of our expected total in the first 30 days. and here's what people say about their experience with connecticut's exchange. one person said this is a great resource for connecticut residents to apply for health coverage. thanks to the health care law. another said i chose access health because i have been denied in the past by other carriers before this law changed. another said thank you so much
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for this health care law. i haven't been insured in a decade. i am so, so thankful. another said thank you for this program. i lost my job a year ago and couldn't find anything that i can afford in health coverage before this law passed. finally another said thank you. this law is helpful and appreciated. god bless america and thank you, president obama. the president is going to make an announcement that will paint a path forward for the relatively small number of americans -- 4% -- who get their insurance in the individual market, some of which have had their plans canceled. but the solution with respect to the timing of enrollment is not to abandon the law, as is the real agenda of people on this floor. the solution is to fix the problem so that like in connecticut, more people across this country can for the first time have access to affordable
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quality health care. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, i want to thank my colleague from connecticut and my colleague from california for coming to the floor. you see, for the last hour republican senators have come to the floor and told a number of stories about individuals and the difficulties they run into with health insurance. and i don't dispute the facts that they brought to the floor, but i do dispute their characterization of what america faces at this moment in time. i supported the affordable care act. i believe it was the right thing to do. i still believe it. i'll tell you right off the bat, and most democrats and republicans would agree on this part. it's off to a rocky start. this web site that was supposed to be ready october 1 we're told will be ready by november 30. i hope it is and the sooner the better. i'm told it's improving by the day. that's good. americans need access to information about health insurance. and when they have that access, they can do something for many
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of them, for the first time in their lives, go shopping for health insurance. you know, there are a lot of people who never had that luxury. some have never had health insurance one day in their lives. others have been given a take it or leave it situation with a policy that may or may not be worth anything. i listened carefully to the republicans for a long, long time on the issue of health insurance. i've heard a lot of criticism, a lot of complaint. they want to defund obamacare. they want to delay the affordable care act. they want to destroy it. they don't have an alternative. oh, we want to repair and replace it. well, let's hear your proposal. we never heard one during the course of our debate on creating this law three and a half years ago. we kept waiting for the republican plan. the honest answer is they had none. apparently they still don't. the reason they don't is they fall back and say let the marketplace decide. well, many of us know the marketplace in health care personally.
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we know a marketplace that has turned away 40 million to 50 million people who are uninsured in america. people who still get sick, still go to the hospital, and whose bills are paid by everyone else. the republican party is supposed to be the party of responsibility and rugged individualism. what about the responsibility that we all have if we can afford it to have health insurance and as a country to provide the means for those who can't afford it so they can have protection too? that to me is responsible. trying to just stop this reform is irresponsible. when you get into the specifics on the affordable care act, you never hear a republican senator come to the floor and make a case against the specifics. you know why? they can't. is there a republican senator who will come to the floor and defend the right of a health insurance company to turn down a person or a family because of a preexisting condition?
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that's the situation we faced when we passed the affordable care act. theris there a family in america that doesn't have someone with a preexisting condition? most families do. my family has in the past and does now, too. and preexisting conditions can range from the very, very serious to things which are chronic and manageable, from asthma and diabetes to cancer survivors. the list is long. the affordable care act says you cannot turn down a person in america for health insurance because of a preexisting condition. the republicans say they want to repeal that, they want to go back to the day where you can turn down a person because of preexisting condition, then have the courage to come to the floor and say it. they won't. the bill also says, the law also says you can't limit the lifetime payout on a health insurance policy. there were a lot of people who
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thousand a hundred thousand dollars was a lot of money for incomhealth care until they goto a serious situation. one accident away, one sickness away that will wipe that out. so we wrote there can be no lifetime payout on an insurance policy. the republicans say they want to change it. i challenge any republican senator to come to the floor and explain that one. did you know as well, mr. president, that of the family policies sold in america, 60% of the family policies did not cover maternity benefits? we require the coverage of maternity benefits. now, let me tell ya, my wife and i are not in a situation where we're likely to ever use those personally, but we happen to believe that it's a good thing across america and it's a family-friendly thing across america to make sure that
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policies cover maternity. those who talk about family values and love of family and love of babies and children, why in the world wouldn't you want to include that protection in all family policies? spread the risk across the population but make sure every family can afford to have prenatal care for a healthy baby and a healthy mom when that blessed event arrives. i'm waiting for the first republican to come to the floor and say, that's a bad idea, too. incidentally, health insurance policies used to discriminate against certain groups, particularly women. we said, that's over. you can't discriminate against women and treat them different differently. you've got to be fair in the allocation of this risk and you can't use gender as a basis for increasing the cost of a policy. the republicans want to repeal that. i'm waiting for the first republican senator to come to the floor and say, health insurance policies, because of the free market, should be allowed to discriminate against women. that's a reality.
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the other thing we provided in the affordable care act, finally families with children coming out of college, looking for a job can keep their kids on their health insurance policies to the age of 26. we don't know exactly how many are helped by this. some estimate 300,000-plus young people still on their family's policies. why is that a good thing? because a lot of young people coming out of college don't find a job right away, and some that do may not have a full-time job or benefits. if you've ever been a mom and dad -- and i've been in that circumstance as a father, where i called my daughter and i said, jennifer, do you have health insurance? dad, i don't need it. i'm healthy. you know? those are the things that keep you up at night. the affordable care act provides additional protection for these young americans who are just starting out in life and trying to find a job. the republicans want to repeal it. i'm waiting for the first republican senator to come to the floor and make that case.
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oh, we should make sure that young people in their 20's don't have health insurance. that's the result if you repeal the affordable care act. and what about senior citizens? medicare prescription part-d provides prescriptions so senior citizens can stay healthy, independent and strong for as long as possible. and the problem we had, of course, was something called the doughnut hole. it meant out-of-pocket expenses seniors had to pay for their prescriptions. we are closing and filling the doughnut hole so that seniors aren't giving up their life savings in order to have the prescription drugs they need for a healthy life. they want to repeal that. they want to repeal the affordable care act. i'm waiting for the first republican senator to come to the floor and say seniors ought to pay more for their prescription these need under medicare, because that's the result of repealing the affordable care act. now, let me just also say this. life experience tells us several things. first, premiums on health
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insurance go up with some frequency. we're trying to slow down the rate of growth but they've been going up for a long time. in some markets, for example, when it comes to individual policies people are buying, those have gone up rather dramatically, sometimes 15% a year for a long period of time. secondly, in that market of individuals buying health insurance, 67% of those policies are canceled every two years. so now they come to the floor and tell us stories about premiums going up and cancellations. can i remind my friends on the republican side that's been going on for a long, long time. now they blame every cancellation on the affordable care act. they blame every premium increase on the affordable care act. that's just not factual. it's not true. let me tell you some mail i've received on the subject. here's an e-mail from a constituent i'd like to read. in illinois, here's what this
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constituent writes. "as a lifelong republican, i am absolutely appalled by the extremists who have hijacked my party and i'm thoroughly ashamed of all the attempts to defund president obama's health care act. already my medical costs have dropped due to early provisions of the act, and if it passes and becomes law, it appears i'll save $6,000 a year on my premiums, health insurance premiums. i realize that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the health care bill, but i want to make two comments. when the act is broken down into its component parts, polls consistently show that american people agree with the program. secondly, all i'm asking is that we give it a fair trial, give it a fair chance, say, two years. of course it will need tweaking and revising. but if it doesn't work, then we can repeal it after two years. quite frankly, obstructionists are a public embarrassment to those of us who grew up with a different republican party that cared about people and was not madly trying to exclude as many
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as possible through hateful bigotry and racism. this is too important to let it fail. i stand with the president and the democrats on this issue and hope that you'll do everything in your power to see the health care act remains in force." now take a look at what's going on out in this country there. have been senators from states that have come to the floor, and i'll use as an example, the senators from the commonwealth of kentucky, both of whom have come to the floor and called for the repeal of the affordable care act. well, let's take a look at the numbers, with a flawed start-up, which i'll readily concede, what is going on in the state of kentucky? in the state of kentucky, 76 -- this is according to "the washington post" -- 76,294 people have already submitted completed applications under the new health care law. 39,207 are eligible to enroll in a plan. and as of this date, 5,586 have selected a plan. kentucky is leading on a per capita basis many other states,
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some larger, some smaller, kentucky is leading while its two senators come to the floor and rail against the very health care law that the people of kentucky apparently need and want and are exercising their right to choose. i want to salute governor basheer in kentucky. he stepped up and said get out of the way. if you don't want to help kentuckians to get health care then get out of the way. we're going to give them a chance, and he's doing it. other states fighting the president, fighting congress tooth and nail. they aren't going to cooperate at all. and we wonder why the start-up has been slow? without that cooperation, it makes it more difficult. i'm not making any excuses for the web site. it's got to be improved. it's got to be better. and it will be. take a look at that experience in massachusetts. the senator from california talked about that earlier. during the first month of enrollment in massachusetts, 123 people signed up. in the first 30 days. by the end of the year, though, 36,000 had signed up. the number of uninsured young
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people went from 25% to 10% within three years. massachusetts today, because of the leadership of governor mitt romney and the cooperation of the democratic legislature in that state, has nearly universal health insurance coverage. however the roll-out wasn't without some problems, just as ours s. thours is. the current governor said there were a series of web site problems. he also said the web site was a work in progress for the first few years. there were outages during peak times and problems searching for providers. i recently met with a doctor from boston. he's one of the best. he said, people in massachusetts can't remember what it was like before. they can't remember what it was like before people had health insurance. this doctor is an oncologist. he deals with people who are diagnosed with cancer. he had a 19-year-old woman come into his office before they had this version of the affordable health care act in the state of massachusetts. and he said to her, we can cure
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you but we've got to really do this aggressively. it's going to take chemo, it's going to take radiation, and it's going to take surgery. this 19-year-old young woman said, please, don't tell my parents. i can't afford to pay for this. if they hear this, they're going to mortgage their home to pay for my medical care and i don't want them to do it. well, the parents learned and the parents made the decision and they mortgaged their home and their daughter's life was saved. this oncological doctor, this cancer doctor said to me, senator, i've never run into another case like that since massachusetts passed its affordable health care law, since people have basic insurance and basic protection. the life-and-death choices that people make every single day should be front and center here and not the political squabbles that have become the trademark of this town. we've got to understand that there are hardworking people across america who have no health insurance. there are families with people with preexisting conditions who can't get a decent policy.
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they're going to be given their chance. we'll be a better america for it. and i would say to the republican critics, after this is in place, after thousands maybe even millions of americans have signed up, you're not going to take it away. they're going to fight to keep it and i'm going to stand by them in that fight. to make sure that they have supporters and champions on the floor of the senate. mrs. boxer: would the senator yield through the chair for a couple questions? mr. durbin: i would be happy to yield for a question. mrs. boxer: first, can i thank you so much, i'm so glad you're here, and i see the senator from colorado is here as well. it's so interesting to see republican senator after republican senator come down here to focus on one of the problems we're having and are going to fix. and not one of them touched any of the issues that you spoke about or i spoke about or the senator from connecticut, which is the broad look at what we were facing when we passed the affordable care act, the benefits that have gone into
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place that are saving our families from bankruptcy and saving lives. and i know my friend was very clear on this. and -- and i think when you said, senator, that to see this become all about politics is something that is so wrong. we all know there's time for politics and you and i, we're into that, we understand that. there is a time and place. there's also a time and place to put that aside and help our families. and i wanted to ask my friend a couple of questions. do you not remember, as i do, that years ago, as we were facing a crisis in health care in this nation before the affordable care act, that we found out from constituents over and over that their insurance company would walk away from them just at the time that they got sick? they thought they had a policy, like some of our people think they have good policies that don't meet the standards, but
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when they got sick, i remember constituents saying they'd get a call saying, you know, back five years ago, you didn't mention the fact that you once had high bloop blooblood pressure. we're sorry, we're can canceling your policy. does my friend remember that? and does my friend remember learning, as i did with shock, that being a woman was really a preexisting condition, for example, if you were a victim of abuse as a woman, they said you were too much of a risk and they turned you away? does my friend remember just those two problems before we tackled the affordable care act? mr. durbin: i thank the senator from california. responding through the chair, there was a time, as a member of congress and as a senator, when this was a normal request, people would call your office and say, i'm at my wit's end. my health insurance company won't cover the problems that my family faces. can you make a call to an insurance executive? and we have. almost to a person, members of the house and senate have done it, trying advocate to get them
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to open up coverage under a health insurance policy. that was the reality. and, frankly, many of these health insurance companies, any excuse would do. they would disqualify people on preexisting conditions because as an adolescent the insured ha acne. acne. a preexisting condition. subject to disqualification. well, i see the senator from colorado's on the floor and i want to yield him some time. i thank my colleague from california for coming forward. i just hope at some point the republicans who are so adamant about repealing and ending obamacare, as they call, it or the affordable care act would have one good idea on their own about providing affordable health insurance for the people across america. we all share that responsibili responsibility.
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