01.24.17

Senator Lankford Discusses Process to Repeal and Replace Obamacare in Senate Floor Speech

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford today delivered an extensive speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate about the devastating impact of Obamacare on Oklahoma, the upcoming Obamacare-related burdens that lie ahead, the misleading and dramatic fear-tactics being used by some Democrats, and the Republican-led multi-step process to repeal and replace Obamacare. 

Excerpts:

Here's the crisis in Oklahoma dealing with health care. We have the highest rate increase in the entire nation. Last year, our rates went up in Oklahoma 76 percent. Last year. The year before that, they went up 35 percent. That is a 111 percent rate increase in two years in my state. Over the course of the last three years, insurance companies have left my state. All 77 counties of Oklahoma now have one insurance carrier left. I met with that insurance carrier. They're seriously looking at how they stay functional in Oklahoma in the days ahead. Which is a concern to me that there's a possibility we may have zero on our marketplace in some counties and in some locations in Oklahoma.

On the horizon, Mr. President, it gets even worse. Because most people don't realize the Affordable Care Act was back-loaded, that the worst of the worst of it wouldn't be for several years out. Well, guess what? It's now several years out. Union households in my state are about to take a major hit with the Cadillac tax that's coming because union households in my state have their insurances too good, and those individuals will face a tax increase. The Insurance Company Tax is coming which is a massive tax increase on insurance companies, which they will pass directly down to consumers that cost. And so it will go up again. And we continue to fight off the Independent Payment Advisory board, a board specifically set up to cut options for patients if they cost too much. That's still out there on the horizon. Not to mention the tax penalties that go up even more next year.

When individuals ask me about Obamacare and they say you're just arguing about something because of disdain for President [Obama], I say, no… this is what we have disdain for. This is what people are frustrated about. People that work, people that pay for their health care insurance, cannot pay their mortgage and their health insurance anymore, because they're literally priced out of it.

I have colleagues that are now spreading the fear all over the country that suddenly everyone's going to be thrown off their insurance and we're going to have people living out on the streets without coverage. I heard on the floor of this Senate that 30 million people could die if we repeal Obamacare. I've heard 20 million people will lose their insurance. I've heard there is no replacement plan. People will get sick because their coverage will be gone. ….there are people calling my office and writing me. They are cancer patients, diabetics, people that are very difficult to get insurance, and they're being told that all those mean Republicans up there don't like you and don't care about you, and they all want to just throw you out on the street. When the people that say that know it couldn't be further from the truth. It may make for good politics, but it's using people that are in a very vulnerable spot in a negative way.

As people address this to me, they ask what just happened on January 6? When the Senate, and then later when the House, voted to start the legislative process to repeal Obamacare. What just happened? We actually just started the process, is what happened. It wasn't a total repeal. No one's been thrown out. It starts a legislative process. And as we start that legislative process, of what's called reconciliation, and as we work through that process, it's a very simple process. It starts the opening conversation to work through committees, to work through debate on the floor so that in the days ahead we will bring a full repeal of Obamacare and a replacement. But that replacement is not going to be a 2,700 page bill to replace the previous 2,700 page bill. It will be a series of solutions. And it will deal with things over a long-term basis. It's not a vote that suddenly ends people's health care in one day. This begins a transition point to make sure that we're watching out for those individuals like those cancer patients, like those diabetics, like those individuals that are in very vulnerable situations that over the next couple of years, we'll be able to transition to other care. We are watching to make sure that this is not some sudden shift for those individuals. Understand, there are very vulnerable people that are on our health care options right now that need to make sure they know there is still that safety net there for them and that moving forward, we'll continue to be able to watch for them.

We can do this transition. We will do this transition. It will take a couple of years. It's not going to be rapid. And there will be a large debate that will happen nationally in the process. That's appropriate. But allow us to be able to walk through this process together.

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