U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today calling on the administration to delay individual mandates for Obamacare:
“I did a lot of listening over the past several weeks at meetings and events across Kentucky. Last week, I participated in my 51st hospital town hall since 2011. And I’ll tell you: one theme kept emerging over and over and over. Kentuckians are really worried about Obamacare. They’ve read the same stories we have: about businesses being forced to cut hours and eliminate healthcare; about people being laid off. They’ve read about how the rollout of this massive law is becoming a massive mess, and how their personal information could become compromised by scam artists.
“Now, I know that some of you who supported this law might be thinking, “Well, they’ll learn to like it.” But it’s precisely that kind of “We know what’s good for you” attitude that’s so upsetting to my constituents. It’s what got us into this mess in the first place. So let’s at least get this much straight: the doctors, nurses, health care professionals, patients, and everyday Kentuckians I’ve been speaking with on this issue are not ignorant of the facts. They know what they’re talking about. A lot of them know more about healthcare than those who voted for this law ever will.
“And the fact is, the more my constituents seem to know about Obamacare, the more worried about it they tend to be.
“That’s true for the business owners too. One small business owner in Murray wrote to tell me she’s looking at premium increases of nearly 90% for her employees. I think she summed the situation up pretty well. She wrote: “Government is crippling the businesses that are keeping this country going.” Another constituent wrote to me to say that, as a matter of conscience, he doesn’t want to let his employees go uninsured; but that realistically, he may no longer have a choice. One of Kentucky’s biggest employers recently announced plans to stop providing health care to the spouses of 15,000 of its employees, also due in part to Obamacare – part of a growing trend across America.
“These are just some of the human costs of this law. And it hasn’t even fully come online yet. So it’s small consolation for business owners in my state that they’ll have a little more time to work through this mess, after the President’s decision to delay the so-called employer mandate for a year. Just yesterday, the country’s largest union federation, the AFL-CIO, outlined serious flaws in Obamacare that could hurt its members too. Apparently, they came close to calling for outright repeal. News reports suggest that a lot of harsh words were said. I don’t think I can even quote all of it out here on the floor. But one union leader implied that Obamacare could lead to the federation losing three-quarters of its membership in just the next few years.
“So we know Big Labor is leaning on the President. We know they want him to let them rewrite the same law they helped ram through. And, apparently, he’s listening.
“But what about everybody else? What about the single Mom in Bowling Green who won’t be able to cover rent if her hours are cut? What about the recent college grad in Louisville who’s barely scraping by as it is, and won’t be able to afford a premium increase? What about the families from Covington to Paducah who are worried sick about this law? Doesn’t the Administration think these folks deserve some relief too? The same kind of delay, at least, that businesses will get? Well, Republicans do. That’s why the Republican-led House of Representatives passed a bill on a bipartisan basis before the August recess to do just that. Last month, I tried to pass that same bill in the Senate. But the Washington Democrat leadership blocked me. I don’t know why.
“This legislation is just common-sense – it’s the fair thing, the right thing, to do. So today I’m going to try again. Yesterday, I – along with a number of my colleagues – filed an amendment to the Portman-Shaheen bill that would provide the same reprieve for individuals that the administration has already offered to businesses. This time, I hope my colleagues on the other side will join me in supporting it.
“I know they all got an earful back home last month too. So maybe they’ve reconsidered the wisdom and the fairness of their earlier position. Maybe now they think that individuals and families should be treated no differently than businesses when it comes to protecting them from Obamacare. This same legislation attracted votes from both Republicans and Democrats in the House.
“There’s no reason to keep blocking it here in the Senate.
“We need to pass a one-year delay of Obamacare for everyone. That’s what the amendment I’ve filed will do. And then enact what Kentuckians and Americans really need: a full repeal of this job-killing mess of a law. And that’s just what I intend to keep fighting for. As I said earlier, union members that pushed for this bill are now turning against it in droves. So are businesses. And so are our constituents — I don’t care what party you’re in. So, let’s take this first step together. Let’s delay Obamacare mandates for families right now, just like the White House did for businesses, while there’s still time to do it. And then let’s work together – Democrat and Republicans – to repeal the law for good, and replace it with the kind of common-sense, step-by-step reforms that will actually lower costs.
“That’s what Kentuckians want. That’s what Americans want. And anybody who actually listened to their constituents last month knows it.”