Health care

Senate Majority Leader McConnell: ObamaCare failed Americans. Now it's time for relief

1280 McConnell Ryan

By nearly any measure, ObamaCare has failed: It didn’t lower costs, it didn’t increase choice, middle-class families continue to lose health plans they were promised they could keep, and Americans continue to call for ObamaCare’s repeal.

They spoke loudly again this November, and about 8 out of 10 favor changing ObamaCare significantly or replacing it altogether.

We in Congress hear you, and we have already begun to act.

The Senate is currently working to pass the legislative tools to bring relief to the middle class by repealing this partisan law.

We’re acting quickly because ObamaCare is collapsing under its own weight, and things will continue to get worse otherwise. That doesn’t mean the law will end overnight. There will be a stable transition period, and once repeal is passed we will turn to replacement policies that cost less and work better than what we have now. 

We plan to take on this challenge in manageable pieces, not another 2,700-page bill like ObamaCare. Some Democratic Senators have mused publicly about their role in that process. I hope they’ll work with us. We want their ideas to improve our health care system. We want to find ways to work together on this important issue. That’s the best way forward. That’s the way I prefer. Democrats can join us in taking one very important step forward this month by confirming President-elect Trump’s nominees to head health-care agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services. There may have been 2,700 pages in the Obamacare bill, but there are tens of thousands of pages of Obamacare-related regulations, which is why nominees like Tom Price and Seema Verma can get to work bringing relief and stabilizing the health-care market.

I hope this is the approach Democrats will take, but we know some will just never be willing to let go of this partisan law. We're already seeing the predictable false and misleading attacks. 

Some contend that, by fulfilling our promise to the American people, we're somehow trying to go back to the way things were before ObamaCare — which we all know is untrue (it's worth remembering that things are now worse for many than they were before ObamaCare). Some say repeal will cause insurers to flee the exchanges (which is happening already, thanks to ObamaCare) or say it will plunge ObamaCare into a death spiral (which, in case any have missed, is here already…and quickly approaching terminal velocity). Others will try to claim the failure of ObamaCare as a mandate for even more ObamaCare — which makes about as much sense as it sounds.

This is the predictable misleading rhetoric we can expect from the far left. And when you hear it, it's worth keeping in mind what President Obama himself just said recently. He's admitted that ObamaCare has “real problems,” he's bemoaned the human impact of his law’s “premium increases” and “lack of competition and choice,” and he's admitted that — these many years after ObamaCare’s passage — “too many Americans still strain to pay for their physician visits and prescriptions, cover their deductibles, or pay their monthly insurance bills; struggle to navigate a complex, sometimes bewildering system; and remain uninsured.”

It’s an indictment as damning as anything Republicans have said. It's not like he's the only member of his party saying this type of thing either. Just consider what the Clintons said during the election: Bill Clinton called ObamaCare crazy and Hillary Clinton said too many have insurance they can’t actually use. Indeed, many with Obamacare insurance are finding it’s too expensive to really help them.

ObamaCare isn’t truly solving problems or making our country healthier — it’s a box-checking regime devoid of true compassion or empathy, a green-eyeshade exercise that misses something important: the lives of real people. The pain Americans are experiencing under ObamaCare is deeply personal, the betrayal middle class families are feeling is clearly palpable, and—unless we do something soon—Americans will continue to lose their health plans. They’ll continue to get stuck with insurance that costs more and offers less. Choices will continue to shrink uncontrollably. Costs will continue to rise unsustainably. No amount of ObamaCare happy-talk or reality-denial is going to change that.

We may not have caused this problem, but we’re determined to bring relief to American families — and we’ve already begun delivering on our responsibility to the American people to finally move beyond this failed law. 

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is the Senate Republican Leader.