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Congressional Record Nov 9

Congressional Record Nov 9

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Published by: Adam Belz on Nov 10, 2011
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 November 9, 2011
The Senator from Nebraska.Mr. JOHANNS. Madam President, Iask unanimous consent to enter into acolloquy with my Republican col-leagues, Senator G
of Iowa andSenator C
of Oklahoma, for up to30 minutes.The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tem-pore. Without objection, it is so or-dered.
HEALTH INSURANCEMr. JOHANNS. Recently, the DesMoines Register reported that an Iowa-based insurance company has decidedto exit the health insurance market,abandoning insurance sales directly toindividuals and families. So what is thenet effect of all of that? Thirty-fivethousand policyholders will lose theirinsurance. It calls to mind the famouspromise by the President: If you likeyour plan, you can keep it.The story doesn’t stop there. It hasan even more profound impact on thelives of real people. The impact goeson. One hundred ten employees willlose their jobs. Seventy of those em-ployees are in Nebraska. That calls tomind Speaker P
’s broken promise:The law will create 4 million jobs—400,000 jobs almost immediately.The driving factor for all of this is aHealth and Human Services regulationrequired by the health care law whichmicromanages how insurance compa-nies can spend their revenues.Unfortunately, this job loss in Ne-braska is not an anomaly. A recentsurvey of nearly 2,400 independenthealth insurance agents and brokersfrom all over came to this conclusion.One month after this HHS regulationtook effect, more than 70 percent hadexperienced a decline in their revenues.And, more shocking, nearly 5 percenthad lost their jobs.The Government Accountability Of-fice reported that most of the insurersthey interviewed were reducing indi-viduals’ commissions. These are notthe big insurance companies that wererailed against in the health care de-bate. These are not the big insurancecompanies that are being squeezed. Thegood folks who are being squeezed arethe mom-and-pop agencies that we findon Main Street throughout the UnitedStates. Yes, these are the folks we goto to support the local football team,the local high school, the local 4–Hclub, whatever the civic cause may be.And yet, with unemployment hoveringaround 9 percent, the health care lawputs the hammer on these people. Ireached the conclusion long ago thatthe health care law is bad for job cre-ation and it is bad for keeping yourjob.The Des Moines-based insurance com-pany’s CEO’s job loss, according tohim, was:
A fairly predictable consequence of theregulation.
UBS Investment Research called thehealth care law:
The biggest impediment to hiring ...which has the added drawback of strainingState and Federal budgets.
The National Federation of Inde-pendent Businesses said:
Small business owners everywhere arerightfully concerned that the unconstitu-tional new mandates, countless rules andnew taxes in the health care law will dev-astate their businesses and their ability tocreate jobs.
What we are seeing with this law is amassive amount of overregulation. Ac-cording to a recent Wells Fargo-Gallupsmall business poll, government regu-lations are the most important prob-lem facing our small business owners.If we just focus again on the healthcare law, that legislation alone has re-sulted in 10,000 pages of new Federalregulations and notices—10,000 pages.How could any small business comply?The employer mandate penalizes em-ployers for growing. It is as simple asthat. It forces employers who do notprovide acceptable coverage to pay apenalty of $2,000 per full-time em-ployee. But, you see, the penalty is ap-plied to firms with more than 50 em-ployees. And as a small business ownerin the Bellevue, NE, area recently ex-plained to me:
I’m not growing my business over 50 em-ployees. I don’t want to deal with yourhealth care law.
Well, as I mentioned, this discussionstarts, at least today, with that articlein the Des Moines Register.With me today is the very respectedSenator from the State of Iowa, Sen-ator G
. I would ask SenatorG
, what impact does he seearising out of this health care law inhis State and, even more broadly,across this country?Mr. GRASSLEY. I thank SenatorJ
for his leadership in this area.He has spoken on regulations quite reg-ularly on the Senate floor and also inour caucus, and I thank the Senator forhis leadership in that area.No. 1, I would say there is a certainirony between a President who is goingaround the country now and talkingabout, We have got to pass legislationto create jobs, at the very same time asthe Senator demonstrated in his re-marks that there is a health care billlaw being instituted that is makingpeople unemployed.There is also a certain irony in whatthe President does and the Secretary of HHS does with what Speaker P
 said at the time the bill was up: Youknow, we have got to pass this bill tosee what this bill does. Well, now weare finding out what it does, and peopledon’t like what it does.You spoke about regulations causingunemployment, and you spoke about10,000 pages of regulations. That isprobably 10,000 pages of regulations outof the 66,000 pages of regulation thatwe have had this year, and 10,000 of that deals with health care. But thinkabout the other 57,000 pages that dealwith other pieces of legislation thatare a problem for small businesses—particularly small businesses. I guess itis a problem for all business, but par-ticularly for small business. And so far,a few regulations have been issued add-ing up to that 10,000 pages.People can read this 2,700-page billand understand what is in it, and mostof them read it and understood whatwas in it before Speaker P
said,‘‘We have got to pass it to find outwhat is in it,’’ and didn’t like what wasin it. But in this bill, there are 1,693delegations of authority to write regu-lations. So if you have 10,000 pages sofar based upon the new regulationsthat have been written, just thinkwhat it is going to be like when all of the pages are printed for the 1,693 regu-lations. So I think we are at the tip of the iceberg so far in this legislation,and the damage that is done to employ-ment and lack of job creation has juststarted. That is my comment on that.I have some remarks I wish to make,if it is okay with the Senator; and if hehas to go to a committee meeting, Iunderstand.This is not the first time this situa-tion has happened in Iowa, and it iscoming at a time when people need sta-bility. American families are strug-gling to put food on their table, paytheir utility bills as winter arrives, andpurchase health insurance as costs areskyrocketing.In other words, the President haspromised: Pass this legislation and it isgoing to keep health care premiumsdown, but that is misleading people,and at a time when, as SenatorJ
said, another promise madewas: If you like what you have, you aregoing to be able to keep it.Well, I don’t know exactly the fig-ure—I have got it here coming up.There is a figure of several thousandpeople in our State who aren’t going tobe able to keep the health insurancethey like and they already have be-cause of this company closing down in-dividual policies.Unemployment continues to hoveraround 9 percent and 1 million Ameri-cans are underemployed, and here wehave a health care bill that is causingmore people to be unemployed, as wellas not keeping the health insurancethey want. With the economic situa-tion our country is facing, Congressmust reexamine its actions and realizethe errors that were made because of partisan votes. This bill was an en-tirely partisan piece of legislation, un-like most social contracts in Americathat have been passed, such as SocialSecurity, Medicare, and Medicaid, civilrights legislation. Those were bipar-tisan pieces of legislation because itwas felt that when you are making thisdifference in America, you ought tohave a broad consensus that majorchanges such as this ought to be made.But in this particular case, it was verypartisan.I want to go over to what SenatorJ
said about the Des MoinesRegister article. The American Enter-prise Group, an insurance companyparticipating in individual health in-surance markets in Iowa and Nebraska,is leaving the market. This action
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 November 9, 2011
shows the importance of repealing andreplacing the health care overhaulpassed by Democrats in Congress andsigned by the President last year be-fore the situation deteriorates evenfurther. Just think what it is going tobe like when we get the rest of these1,693 delegations of authority to thebureaucracy to write regulations.American Enterprise notified 110 em-ployees in Iowa and Nebraska thatthey will lose their jobs sometime dur-ing the next 3 years. American Enter-prise is leaving the individual healthinsurance market as a result of the in-stability caused by the implementationof this health care reform bill. Amer-ican Enterprise stated it will no longersell individual health insurance poli-cies because of the regulatory environ-ment created by the health care reformbill.This isn’t an isolated incident forIowa, this one company, because thePrincipal Financial Group left thesmall group insurance market in 2010,and Principal Financial isn’t a smallMain Street operation. It is one of themajor financial groups in the UnitedStates, but still, they could not find itto be competitive to stay in the indi-vidual market.This has cost many Iowans their jobs,while leaving scores of small busi-nesses and their employees to choosefrom health insurance plans in a healthinsurance market where there is lessand less competition. The regulatoryculprit in this incident is a medicalloss ratio regulation of this legislation.This regulation requires insurers topay a certain percentage of premiumsin claims.I know supporters will defend theregulation as ‘‘keeping insurers incheck.’’ But the real world effect is toforce insurers to leave the market,thereby reducing competition andchoice available to consumers—not ex-actly what the President promised,that we are going to have competition,keep price down, and people are goingto have choice, they are going to beable to keep what they want if theyhave it. But in this case, for these peo-ple, that isn’t a promise kept. Thatturns out to be a falsehood.The small group and individual mar-kets happen to be very vulnerable.That is the problem. Insurers risk andset their premiums accordingly. Insur-ers are making a rational decision toget out of the market because the riskshave become too great. Competition isreduced. Costs rise.Once upon a time, the Presidentpromised Americans that if they likedthe insurance program they have, theycan keep it. This is more evidence thatthat promise rings hollow.This recent planned pullout willleave 35,000 individuals without insur-ance plans that they have grown accus-tomed to. Forcing people to choose adifferent insurance option can lead tohigher costs and may limit the healthcare accessibility these individualshave depended on for years. This is es-pecially detrimental when these indi-viduals have preexisting conditions oracute chronic disease. The Presidentspecifically promised that if these peo-ple want to keep their health care cov-erage, they would be able to do it withthe passage of that law. This is justone of the many examples of how thisoverhaul has led to broken promisesmade by the President when pushingthrough the passage of this legislationin a partisan way.These problems will certainly con-tinue as more regulations are written.The Congressional Budget Office ex-pects people in the individual marketto see an average of a 10-percent to 13-percent rise in premium costs solelybased on the passage of the health carelaw. Does that increase accessibility oraffordability? No, of course it doesn’t.Not only has the health care over-haul caused health insurance compa-nies to leave parts of the health insur-ance market and health insurancecosts to increase, it has also put addedburden on employers. Some employerswill no longer offer their employeeshealth care coverage. Higher taxes andmandates put on employers by the newhealth care law have left many em-ployers without resources to maintaincurrent coverage for family membersof their employees. The negative im-pact this legislation is having on largeemployers and those insured by em-ployers was demonstrated by the Na-tional Business Group on Health. In itsrecent annual survey, overall plannedcosts for larger employers are expectedto rise by 6 percent in 2012. The Na-tional Business Group on Health alsonotes that 7 out of 10 employers willlose their grandfather status, meaningemployees will lose their currenthealth care plans and employers will besubject to additional regulations.According to the same survey, 3 outof 10 employers are unsure if they willcontinue to insure employees due tothe health care overhaul. Other em-ployers will increase the employeeshare of the insurance premium, andmany employers state they will likelylower the level of health care coverageoffered to their employees. Walmart, asan example, will not allow many of itsnew part-time employees to receivehealth care insurance through the com-pany. Many of these workers are under-employed. They work hard yet do notalways have adequate resources to pur-chase health care insurance on theirown, especially as costs in the insur-ance markets continue to increase dueto the new law.Additionally, many businesses aresimply dropping coverage for their ownemployees because of the extra costsincurred in the legislation. It is moreaffordable for some employers to dropcoverage for their employees and paythe fine associated with the employermandate. An employer must providehealth insurance for their employees if they have more than 50 employees or 50full-time equivalents. Employers whoare required to insure employees willbe fined $2,000 per employee who seekshealth insurance through one of the ex-changes created under the health careoverhaul, and any employer-sponsoredplan must meet the definitions of HHSon what an adequate plan is under themandate.This requirement will increase insur-ance costs for employers and employ-ees when they must upgrade health in-surance benefits in order to meet thestandards defined by HHS. Forcing em-ployers to provide health insurancewhen they have a tough time hiringnew employees just adds to the burdenemployers are facing in this strugglingeconomy. Employers will likely paytheir increased health insurance costsby reducing employee take-home payor by increasing the employee share of health insurance premiums. Also, em-ployers will continue struggling in fu-ture years as the Federal Governmentincreases year by year the require-ments of health insurance benefitsneeded to avoid a penalty.Furthermore, employers alreadyfaced with economic uncertainty haveto deal with the government regula-tions that continue to change, addingto uncertainty. An HHS rule releasedlast November allows fully insuredgroup plans to switch insurance pro-viders as long as the insurance benefitprovided to the beneficiaries remainscomparable. However, this is only forgroup plans that switched after Novem-ber 15 last year.HHS wrote this new rule so moregroup plans can find affordable cov-erage and shop around for similar cov-erage at cheaper rates. But if the groupinsurance plan carrier was changed be-fore November 15, the plan would losegrandfather status and then be subjectto a whole bunch of new regulations.Ironically, what created the need forthis new rule was another rule thePresident’s administration and HHScrafted in June last year that statedplans would lose their grandfather sta-tus if they switched carriers. This cha-otic situation shows what happenswhen the government is given more au-thority to regulate the health insur-ance market.What we have is a mess. We need toput a halt to the implementation. Weneed to repeal the law and start overagain with commonsense solutions. Weneed to move away from the regulatoryand bureaucratic nightmare that iscosting Americans their coverage andtoo many Americans their jobs.With 10,000 pages of regulations atthis point, just think what it will belike when all 1,693 regulations get writ-ten.I yield the floor.Mr. JOHANNS. Mr. President, Ithank Senator G
for this ex-planation of what this law is doing andthe impact it is having. Today, of course, we are starting our discussionwith the article from the Des MoinesRegister which talked about the regu-latory impact. But we cannot forgetthere are other pieces to this law that
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