VIDEO: Senator Lankford Previews King vs. Burwell, Blasts Obamacare, Talks Possible Solutions
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate about the upcoming King vs. Burwell Supreme Court decision, and the ongoing burdens created by the deeply flawed Affordable Care Act. If the Court rules against the federal government, 6.3 million Americans could lose their subsidy to pay for health insurance because of the flawed text of Obamacare. Also, more than 87,000 Oklahomans are at risk of losing their healthcare subsidy and residents could experience a 243 percent average increase in premiums.
Lankford predicted that the Supreme Court would most likely rule on the plain text of the law, that the federal subsidies in 34 states without state exchanges are unconstitutional.
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Below is the transcript from the speech:
“Mr. President, the next coupling of days the Supreme Court will rule on a case that will have long-lasting impact, not only on what health care is going on in our country but long-lasting impact on how the law is to be interpreted. This is a law called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It was hurried through Congress before anyone had time to read it and contained multiple mistakes and contradictions. Already, this Administration has unilaterally changed over 30 times this law to try to make it work, including completely rewriting a section about who gets the subsidies and who lives underneath the mandates. The law only says that the states who set up an exchange as a state exchange are under those subsidies and also to have those mandates, but the Administration claims that, no, it was intended for everyone. Within days the Supreme Court will release their opinion on this matter in a case called King V. Burwell.
“Basically [it will answer] this one question: Does the law mean what the law says? Or does the law mean what the Administration interprets it to mean? It is not a political problem. This is a health care problem for millions of people. The discussion seems to circle around these days on who is to blame. The people and families were hurt in the Obamacare chaos because of the way this law was written. They’re not worried about blame. They’re worried about the issue that’s facing their family in the days ahead.
“I have the obligation to do whatever I can to protect the people of my state from the harmful effects of this law. And there are many. People in my state distinctly heard people say five years ago, if you like your health care, you can keep it. Except for the people who were forced off the state-run exchanges that already existed in Oklahoma and were pushed out. Obamacare, that’s five years… came after Insure Oklahoma, which is ten years old – except for the people who have higher deductibles and higher premiums. In Oklahoma this year the requested rate increase for health care is between 11% and 45%, depending on the plan and the county that you live in. This year’s rate increase, between 11% and 45%. In addition, physician-owned hospitals are trapped in time not allowed to grow larger than they were five years ago. Many people in my state like the physician-owned hospitals and want to see it succeed instead of slowly bled to death. People struggle to find a job in my state because of this 30-hour requirement that hangs over them. They now have to find two jobs each having about 28 hours so they can keep up the amount of pay. Those individuals were hurt in this process.
“The higher premium costs in the plans that will soon come to those in unions because they have too good of a health care insurance, and in the short days ahead, union members that have premium health care policies will now get a penalty for having insurance that’s too good for this Administration. And by next year, the independent payment advisory board kicks off its work. Its sole responsibility is to find areas to save money by cutting options for patients. This is not a mess that can be fixed with one sentence. Unless that one sentence says the bill is repealed.
“So how do we solve this in the days ahead? Let me just lay a couple ideas out before the Senate because, very soon, we’re going to be confronted with this when the Supreme Court actually responds. First I’d do the basic thing, do no harm and stop the existing harm. We need a transition out of the subsidies and mandates of Obamacare for millions of people who will lose their subsidy when the court rules in favor of the American people and the United States, the clear text reading of the law. Those individuals forced into Obamacare are not the problem. We’re not angry at those individuals. They’re trapped in a mess made around them and they were forced into.
“I will never forget a conversation I had with a Democrat in my state who was participating in the plan called Insure Oklahoma, who liked their insurance plan, a subsidized plans from our state and they pulled me aside five years ago and said, ‘Is there any way I can keep the state-based plan that I have now?’ All I could do was look at them and say ‘no. You can’t actually. And that’s not my decision.’ That’s when the Affordable Care Act was passed and the Center for Medicaid and Medicaid services and H.H.S. forced the people in my state out of a state-based solution for health care and into the larger national solution. And many Oklahomans lost their health care coverage and were forced out of it.
“It was already in a subsidized system and they were taken from one plan and pushed into another; let’s do no harm, and let’s try to help those individuals to be able to find their way back to a plan they like and help in that transition. The second thing is pretty straightforward. States should have the freedom to choose any path to help their citizens. States should not have to check in with the federal government to ask permission to take care of their neighbors and citizens. How ridiculous is that… that a state leadership would have to go to the federal government to say we want to develop a plan to be able to help our own citizens and the federal government to say no. They have to check with us instead. This is basically a repeal option for all 50 states. So… those states… if you like your Obamacare, you can keep it. But for all the states that don’t, they have their own way out to be able to take care of their own citizens. The tax money that’s being supplemented for those came from those states, why shouldn’t it be returned back to those states and give the states the ability to be able to speak to that issue for their own citizens?
“We’ve got to stop this mentality that only the people of Washington, D.C. love the individuals in each state and want to care for them and to be able to manage what’s happening in that state. That state leadership deeply cares about their own citizens. Let’s let them step up and lead.
“Third, the clearest of all of them, people should have the freedom to choose any health care plan they want. What a radical idea to actually hand people freedom, to hand people opportunities, free of the mandates and the penalties, patients should be able to pick their own doctor, their own plan for their own family. I have to tell you it’s ironic, Mr. President. I hear people call this law either Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act. And I’m fascinated with that because the law’s name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And over the last five years, the word patient protection seems to disappeared from every part of everyone’s vernacular on this and I would only have to say I agree. When did we stop saying to the patient you have no ability to make your own choices? I’ll tell you when. When Obamacare passed. And everything became about Affordable rather than about Patients.
“We’ve seen the consequences of this. In the days ahead the Supreme Court will rule on this. And I believe strongly they’re going to rule for the plain text of the law. Not just about Obamacare, but because they have to make a decision as the Supreme Court… does the law mean what the law says, or can any Administration on any law in the future reinterpret it based on their preferences? If there is one area that would be a great path for us to follow, it is, in the days ahead, we get back to the government is about the law, and we follow the law. Because we are a nation of laws. Not just a nation of leaders.
“And the law is to be king in our nation. So let’s interpret it the way it’s written and let’s give people back the freedom that they want and need, let’s put the patient back in health care. That’s the next step that I think we should take in this you United States — this united States senate. With that, Mr. President, I yield back.”