While Hatch admonishes GOP colleagues, Trump says ‘just let Obamacare fail’

ST. GEORGE – Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, took to the Senate floor Tuesday to admonish his colleagues following the death of the Senate GOP’s latest health care bill and pressed for continuing efforts to repeal Obamacare.

The bill, which already could have been considered to be on life-support when it was introduced last week, met its demise following the announcement by two Republican senators Monday they would not support the bill.

Those senators were Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. They joined fellow Republican Sens. Rand Paul, of Kentucky, and Susan Collins, of Maine, in opposing the latest iteration of legislation meant to open the door to replacing the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare.

Last night a handful of our members announced that they would not support the compromise bill, even though it would have repealed Obamacare’s taxes, reformed Medicaid by putting it on a sustainable path for future generations, and included the largest pro-life protections on federal spending that I’ve ever seen.

This, Mr. President, was the opportunity we had been working toward. All we had to do was come together and compromise and seven and a half years of promises would have been much, much closer to being fulfilled.

But, last night, we blinked.

And, frankly, I think the members who opted to scuttle the compromise bill will eventually have to explain to their constituents why they left so many Obamacare fixes on the table and walked away from this historic opportunity.

…Do we want to repeal Obamacare, or are we fine with leaving it in place? That’s the question we have to ask ourselves.

Segment’s of Hatch’s remarks can be viewed in media player at the top of this article while the entire transcript of his speech is featured at the end.

The successive defeats made clear that despite seven years of promises to repeal the ACA, Republicans apparently cannot deliver. Nonetheless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, insisted he would move forward with a vote on his measure to repeal the law, effective in two years, with a promise to work — along with Democrats — to replace it in the meantime.

The vote to move ahead to repeal the bill will take place early next week, McConnell announced late Tuesday. It appears doomed to fail, but GOP leaders want to put lawmakers on record on the issue and move on.

At the White House, Trump appeared to recognize defeat, at least for the moment, while insisting he bore none of the blame.

I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll just let Obamacare fail,” the president said. “We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you that the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us and they’re going to say, ‘How do we fix it?'”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday night that all GOP senators have been invited to the White House tomorrow for lunch to discuss the way forward on health care.

“Right now, we have essentially two choices,” Hatch said in this speech from the Senate floor. “We can keep talking about repealing Obamacare and wish for a better future, one with more Republican votes or more Democrats willing to acknowledge reality. Or, we can press forward with the numbers we have and make good on the commitments we’ve made to the American people.”

Hatch continued:

To quote the old Scottish nursery rhyme: If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.

Translation: More talking and more wishing won’t get us anywhere.

… In my view, Mr. President, the choice is an easy one. I urge all of my colleagues to once again vote with me to repeal Obamacare.

Sen. Orrin Hatch’s speech in its entirety:

Mr. President, the final pieces of Obamacare were signed into law a little over seven years ago. Since that time, Republicans – not just in Congress, but throughout the country – have been united in our opposition to the law and our commitment to repeal it.

This hasn’t been simply a political or partisan endeavor. We’re not just trying take a notch out of President Obama’s win column. The simple truth is that Obamacare isn’t working.

The law was poorly written and the system it created was poorly designed. Even a number of Obamacare supporters have come to acknowledge that it hasn’t been working the way it was promised to work. As a result, millions of Americans have suffered astronomical increases in their health insurance premiums and fewer and fewer insurance options to choose from.

That is Obamacare’s great irony: The law requires people to buy health insurance while also making it impossible to do so.

For seven and a half years, Republicans have fought to expose the failures of Obamacare and have pledged time and again to repeal it.

Every single Republican member of the Senate has expressed support for repealing Obamacare. Most of us have made promises to our constituents to do just that. And, those promises – coupled with the obvious failures of Obamacare – are a big reason why we now find ourselves in control of both chambers of Congress and the presidency.

For the last six months, Republicans have worked in good faith to find a path forward to both repeal and replace Obamacare.

The released discussion drafts attempted to bridge the divide between our more conservative and moderate members, so the products were never going to be perfect. Such is the inherent nature of compromise.

The draft released last week included additions to address member priorities, and was likely the best chance we had at a compromise bill to repeal and replace Obamacare with significant entitlement reform.

But, last night a handful of our members announced that they would not support the compromise bill, even though it would have repealed Obamacare’s taxes, reformed Medicaid by putting it on a sustainable path for future generations, and included the largest pro-life protections on federal spending that I’ve ever seen.

This, Mr. President, was the opportunity we had been working toward. All we had to do was come together and compromise and seven and a half years of promises would have been much, much closer to being fulfilled.

But, last night, we blinked.

And, frankly, I think the members who opted to scuttle the compromise bill will eventually have to explain to their constituents why they left so many Obamacare fixes on the table and walked away from this historic opportunity.

So, where does that leave us?

The Majority Leader has announced his intention to shelve the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare with a single piece of legislation. Instead, the Senate will move forward to vote on legislation to simply repeal Obamacare, with a two-year delay.

So, long story short, we have one more chance to do what we’ve all said we wanted to do.

I am aware that some members have already expressed their skepticism – if not their opposition – to this approach. I would hope that they will take the time to reconsider.

As senators contemplate this path, they should keep in mind that the upcoming vote is not about the next two years, nor is it about the past six months. We’re not going to be voting to approve a specific process for drafting and enacting an Obamacare replacement. And, we’re not voting to approve the way this effort has moved forward during this Congress.

I know some of our colleagues have doubts about the path forward. Others have complaints about the path that got us here. But this vote, in my view, will simply be about whether we intend to live up to our promises.

ERICA WERNER and ALAN FRAM of the Associated Press contributed to this story.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

 

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9 Comments

  • Pheo July 18, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    If Senator Hatch really wants to improve health care, he and his colleagues could do it. The reason this bill failed is because it was never about improving health care. It was a massive tax cut that used cuts to health care to keep the budget balanced. It was a massive giveaway to the rich paid for with cuts to Medicaid. It would have further degraded the quality of insurance by rescinding the required health benefits. While premiums might have fallen for some, they would have fallen because the insurance would cover less. In other words, if you ended up paying less under this system, you would be paying less because you were receiving less. The price of what you needed was never going down. If you found yourself in the unfortunate position of needing health care, you would be much more likely to have to declare bankruptcy. If you are already sick, you were going to be removed to high-risk pools, pools that in the past were always underfunded. It wasn’t that long ago that all of the sick kids in the state would have to make annual trips to the capitol to beg for the legislators to not cut the benefits that they needed to stay alive. We just can’t go back to that system.

    There are possible reforms that could work to decrease the cost of actual healthcare (and not just premiums). The most obvious way (and probably the hardest to swallow) is to remove insurance companies from the equation. Medicare delivers quality care to the most expensive patients and it does so pretty efficiently. It would save so much by extending Medicare to all. Our taxes would go up, but we would end up ahead because we wouldn’t pay insurance premiums anymore.

    Another possible way to drive down health care costs would be to introduce free market principles to control costs. The system that sounds intriguing is one that eliminates insurance companies and requires people to pay for their own healthcare up to a certain percentage of what you earn. If you are unfortunate enough to need expensive medical care (cancer or other chronic disease), then you would be covered under universal catastrophic care from the government. No one goes bankrupt because they are unlucky enough to get really sick. The free market helps keep prices reasonable.

    In short, this bill would have done nothing to decrease the price of health care. It was designed to decrease taxes on the rich and insurance premiums for the healthy and young. This would be done at the expense of the old, poor, and sick. There are better options out there that will help us spend less while making sure everyone has equal access to needed care.

    • Brian July 19, 2017 at 7:52 am

      You said “medicare” and “efficiency” in the same sentence with a straight face. I can’t possibly continue reading your post after that because you’re either entirely uninformed or you have an agenda, so why waste the time? Medicare is riddled with fraud and inefficiency and is a major factor in driving UP the cost of medical care (not coverage, care).

  • PogoStik July 18, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    We really need to get private insurance companies and their lobbyists out of the health care sector. Let them insure houses, cars, businesses, yachts, life insurance and other similar non-life threatining sectors. If private insurance companies are kicked out of the health care sector this whole problem goes away. Our own Senator Hatch has taken about $500,000 from insurance lobbyist clouding his thinking on what is best for Utah residents.
    Thirty other countries around the world have successfully implemented single-payer health care insurance that provides every citizen with full health care. Expensive? Not as much as you think. Health care in Canada costs $75/person per month. I think our country can at least do as well as these 30+ other countries in providing health care for all.

    • Brian July 19, 2017 at 8:02 am

      It isn’t $75 a month, it’s $330:
      http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/true-cost-of-health-care-to-average-family-is-11k-per-year-report-1.2525114

      Which is MORE than my family pays, and we’re getting shafted compared to what we got before obamacare.

      And there is a reason wealthy Canadians come to America to get their surgeries, including both the quality of care (Canada has experienced massive brain-drain and doctor shortages due to price controls) and the often 2 year waiting list for even life-saving surgeries (often the person won’t live 2 years, but that is when their surgery is roughly scheduled). Of course this trend has gone down as obamacare has seriously damaged healthcare in America.

  • Not_So_Much July 19, 2017 at 7:23 am

    I hope we can find someone like Senator Lee to replace Senator Hatch in the next election.

  • hiker75 July 19, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Get rid of Hatch! I prefer someone who votes to represent his/her constituents instead of following party lines.

  • Kilroywashere July 19, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    Senator Hatch got it right. Senator Lee is just an obstructionist. The legacy of the T party Republicans is simple. DO NOTHING and OBSTRUCT . And now when something can be done, they do nothing. Politics requires compromise, and as the Rolling Stones song goes, “You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need”. The current plan put in place is not perfect but it is a start from which you can build upon. To do-nothing is a failure to govern . And the tea party republicans simply don’t know how to pass legislation . They were born out of opposition and they still can’t do anything. Oh I forgot. They can shut down the government. They also can threaten the credit rating if the United States and the U S dollar, in regards to the debt limit. They also love to threaten any Republicans not like them. They are not team players, and really live in a fantasy that THEY ARE THE TRUE REPUBLICANS. The Republican party I grew up knowing got things done. So yeah, Senator Hatch is right. THE EMPEROR wears no clothes. In regards to the healthcare plan, they have had 8 years to come up with a plan. It’s easy to OBSTRUCT, but to pass legislation is truly difficult and takes political skill, especially nowadays. Senator Mike Lee failed and his blindside further reinforces his lack of political skill and tact.

  • dodgers July 20, 2017 at 6:37 am

    Good for Mike Lee. These bills, the latest included, would not repeal Obamacare and would do little to lower healthcare costs. Get the federal government out of our healthcare. Let me decide if I want to buy insurance (without any IRS fine/tax); let me purchase the coverage that best fits me and my family. Don’t force me to pay for maternity coverage or other coverages I don’t need or want. Stop forcing the young and healthy to buy insurance if they don’t want it. Those with a healthy track-record, fewer claims, should see lower premiums. Other than minimal regulatory oversight, the federal government should not be involved. Let the marketplace work.

  • utahdiablo July 20, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    Let Obamacare fail…..Pelosi ( you have to pass the bill before you can know what’s in it ) and Chuck ( the Rat ) Schumer and Harry Reid ( remember that ahole? ) they and all the democrats who pushed it through way back then all own it now

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