No state has been hurt more by the Affordable Care Act than Alaska
December 05, 2015
(SitNews) Washington, D.C. - The Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday night passed a bill that will essentially repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) except for one small detail, when it reaches President Barack Obama's desk, he plans to veto it.
Among other things, the bill would prevent the federal government from running healthcare exchanges, eliminate insurance subsidies, repeal Medicaid expansion now underway in 30 states and junk the law's especially controversial requirements that most individuals obtain health insurance coverage and that large employers offer their employees the same. It also would block federal funding for Planned Parenthood for 1 year, a hot issue after last month's shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs that left three people dead.
The bill, called the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015, won House approval in October 2015. It only needed 51 votes for passage in the Republican-controlled Senate - not the usual 60 to overcome an opposing party's filibuster - because it went through a special budget reconciliation process.
The final vote in the Senate was 52 to 47 along party lines. It now goes back to the House for a second vote because the Senate amended the original bill.
U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) spoke Thursday on the Senate floor, calling on his colleagues to pass the Restoring Americans' Health Care Freedom Reconciliation Act.
During his remarks, Senator Sullivan talked about how the act was hurting the country, but no place more than in Alaska.
Excerpts of Sen. Sullivan's remarks:
“Hardly a day passes - when I’m in D.C. or back home - that I don’t hear or read about Alaskans who have been harmed by Obamacare.”
“I recently heard from an Alaskan who pays $1,200 a month in premiums with a $10,000 deductible. I heard from another couple who will be paying $3,131 a month, almost $38,000 a year.”
“Here’s an excerpt from a constituent letter: ‘The renewal paperwork that I just received estimated our new payment to be just over $1,000/month - doubling our monthly expense… What is a young family to do?”
“Another: ‘Insurance rates are killing my small business…We have tried to keep our employees and their families covered but don’t see how we can continue to.’”
“No state has been hurt more by the law than Alaska. Five insurance companies originally offered individual coverage in the exchange, offering a glimmer of hope that competition might drive down costs. Today, only two are left. Both will be increasing premiums by about 40 percent this year alone. In Anchorage, the lowest level plan—a bronze plan—is going up 46 percent in just one year, which makes it among the most expensive in the country.
“In Anchorage, a nonsmoking 40-year-old who doesn’t receive subsidies will be forced to pay anywhere from $579 to $678 a month for a bronze plan with a deductible of either $5,250 for the more expensive premium, and $6,850 for the less expensive premium.”
“This was not the ‘affordable’ health care that was promised. And we can't let it get worse. That's why I am joining with my colleagues to repeal this law and replace it with one that includes tort reform, preserves a strong safety-net for people with pre-existing conditions, works toward a system where insurance can be bought across state lines, encourages patient-centered care, and allows the kind of doctor-patient relationship that has so distinguished American medical care,” remarked Sullivan in his speech.
As the Senate began to take a series of votes to repeal key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) also spoke on the Senate floor to lay out how the Affordable Care Act is drastically harming the people of Alaska. Senator Murkowski referred to specific examples from Alaskans, including families, small businesses, and school districts across the state, who have reached out to share the financial burdens the failed healthcare law is placing on them.
In her speech, Murkowski outlined how in Alaska, the rising healthcare costs have gone too far:
“Alaskans have the highest insurance premiums in the country, and I hear from folks back home all the time about the burden these costs place on them. Our state’s largest newspaper has been reporting on the premium increases coming out over the past several months, detailing the incredible rise of premiums throughout the state. The average monthly premium for a single 40-year-old in the state of Alaska is now over $700, more than double the national average. People are paying thousands of dollars each month to insure their families, and costs have been going up somewhere between 25-40 percent each year. How do you budget for that?”
"A family of three in Ketchikan will be paying almost $2,000 per month next year, for one of the cheapest bronze plans available. This plan comes with a $10,500 deductible. Heck of a deal. So despite paying almost $24,000 for insurance, nearly all medical bills will still be paid out-of-pocket by this family. They will not see any benefit until they have spent almost $35,000. Contrast that $2,000 per month for health insurance with their mortgage payment of $1,250. Does that seem right to anyone? It should not cost more to insure your family than to own a home."
"A married couple in Wasilla was paying about $850 per month prior to the ACA, but that plan was not acceptable under the new regulations, despite the President’s promise that “if you like your plan, you can keep it,” and they had to find another insurer. Next year, they will be paying over $2,300 per month. That means they will be paying over $17,000 more per year for the same coverage. A 268 percent increase in just over one calendar year. This is not right, this is not conscionable. It’s not like this married couple have somehow or another increased their income by an additional $17,000 last year. No, this is just the cost to cover their insurance."
"The single greatest threat to quality public education. That is how Robert Boyle, the superintendent of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District, describes the ACA. I’ll say it again: the single greatest threat to quality public education. Bob’s district is facing a tax penalty of over $500,000 due to the Cadillac tax in 2018. Remember, 2018 is the first year of the tax, and the penalties will only increase from there. So you’ve got the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District looking at a half a million dollar tax coming due in 2018. They’re not getting more money to run their school district. This is money out the door that isn’t improving the education of a single child in that district."
Murkowski explained how detrimental the ACA’s Cadillac tax could be on Alaska:
“Alaska is facing a fiscal crisis. The state cut the education budget this year and is looking hard at cutting more next year. School districts cannot handle the imposition of hundreds of thousands of dollars in new taxes on top of a budget reduction. The money would be far better spent on paying teachers what they deserve. School districts are now possibly looking to reduce benefits for teachers in order to avoid paying this new tax. With low pay and no benefits, how are our schools going to get ahead? How can we expect schools to attract and retain quality teachers? The answer is: we can’t. And without quality teachers, it will be our kids who suffer.”
Senator Murkowski summarized her reasons for supporting the repeal of the Affordable Care Act:
“I’ve asked this question before, but I will ask it again: for whom is the Affordable Care Act affordable? Certainly not the average, hard-working Alaskans who are being forced to shell out thousands of dollars for their premiums each month. It isn’t affordable for school districts and other state entities, who will pay huge taxes. It isn’t affordable for kids, whose education will suffer.
“This law is not affordable for anyone in Alaska. That is why I will support the bill that repeals the ACA and wipes out its harmful impacts. I can’t watch premiums for Alaskans shoot up by 30 percent or more each year, see businesses artificially constrained, or see the quality of public education decline.”
The Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday night passed the bill that essentially repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA. The final vote in the Senate was 52 to 47 along party lines. It now goes back to the House for a second vote because the Senate amended the original bill.
If vetoed by President Obama, Congressional Republicans could resurrect this legislation if a Republican is elected president in 2016 and is willing to sign the measure.
Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
On the Web:
Read the full transcript of Murkowski's floor speech
video of Murkowski's entire speech
H.R.3762 - Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015
Source of News:
Office of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Office of U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan
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