US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Alexander to Burwell: Republicans Are Ready to Repair Damage Obamacare Has Done

Cautions HHS nominee Burwell against making the “mistakes of her predecessor,” urges her to work with Congress on Republican health care proposals

Wednesday, June 04, 2014Liz Wolgemuth 202-224-8584

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“Republicans would like to repair the damage that Obamacare has done. We would like to prevent future damage, and as responsibly and rapidly as we can, we want to move in a different direction to put in place proposals that provide more freedom, more choices, and lower costs. We trust Americans to make those decisions for ourselves. We believe that is the American way.” –Lamar Alexander

Washington, D.C., June 4 – In a speech on the Senate floor this afternoon, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the senior Republican on the Senate health committee, called on Sylvia Mathews Burwell, nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, to work with Republicans to “repair the damage done by Obamacare.”

Alexander urged Burwell to work with Congress, noting that the administration has instead made at least 22 unilateral changes to the health care law. “At this rate,” Alexander said, “the president may be invited to speak at the next Republican convention for doing the most of any elected official to undo his own health care law.”

He continued: “Republicans would like to repair the damage that Obamacare has done. We would like to prevent future damage, and as responsibly and rapidly as we can, we want to move in a different direction to put in place proposals that provide more freedom, more choices, and lower costs. We trust Americans to make those decisions for ourselves. We believe that is the American way. Since President Obama will still be in office for the next two years, if Ms. Burwell is confirmed we will need her help to do that.”

Alexander cautioned Burwell against repeating the mistakes of her predecessor. He asked the nominee to pay attention to five things:

1. “End the secrecy. I said last year that the NSA [National Security Agency] could have learned something from Secretary Sebelius, because getting information about the Obamacare exchanges was next to impossible for members of Congress.”

2. “Work with Congress. This administration has made at least 22 unilateral changes in the health care law, many of which should have been made by Congress. At this rate, the president may be invited to speak at the next Republican convention for having done the most of any elected official to undo his own health care law.”

3. “Be a good steward of taxpayer dollars. Apparently the government is set to spend more than $1 billion in technology costs on Obamacare. We know that nearly a half billion dollars were wasted on four failed state exchanges. This kind of waste makes hardworking Americans furious.”

4. “Show Americans some respect. That means: Don’t announce major policy changes in blog posts.  And when Congress asks if you’re in trouble, don’t pretend everything is fine. If Secretary Sebelius had been upfront about the website problems before the rollout, we might have saved Americans precious time and money. And most importantly—the majority of Americans disapprove of the law, and start taking a look at Republicans’ health care proposals as a way to repair the damage done by Obamacare.”

5. “Please don’t solicit from companies you regulate. This is pretty simple. Secretary Sebelius solicited from companies she regulated. She shouldn’t have. This kind of behavior should leave with her.”

Alexander detailed the proposals Republicans have introduced:

“For starters, if you like your plan, you can keep it, as the president promised. Senator Ron Johnson has a proposal that would remove some Obamacare mandates to make that possible.

“Senator McCain has a proposal that if you find a policy in another state that fits your budget and your healthcare needs, you should be able buy it.

“Senator Enzi has a proposal which say if you are a small employer, you can combine your purchasing power with other small employers to offer your employees lower cost insurance.

“Senators Burr, Coburn and Hatch have a proposal to allow you to buy a major medical policy to avoid going bankrupt in the event of a medical catastrophe. The proposal would also allow expanded health savings accounts to compliment that and help individuals pay for routine care at a discount.

“If you are an employer, I have a proposal that would make it easier for you to give your employees rewards for leading a healthy life style.”

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