Hoeven Statement on Health Care Reform Debate

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate ended debate on health care reform legislation: 

“Obamacare is harming individuals and families in North Dakota and across the nation who are seeing fewer health insurance options and rising costs. Since 2013, premiums have more than doubled in the U.S. and continue to rise with some areas of the country left with one or no insurers. In fact, North Dakota will see large premium increases this fall because of Obamacare. That’s why we have been working to try to reform our health care system.

“I voted for legislation to move forward the health care reform process. The bills would have ended the individual and employer mandates and helped restore Americans’ ability to choose their health care coverage. At the same time, they would have provided states with greater flexibility to innovate free from mandates imposed by Washington.”

The Health Care Freedom Act would have:

  • Repealed the individual mandate
  • Repealed the employer mandate for eight years
  • Repealed the costly medical device tax for three years
  • Increased the contribution limit for health savings accounts
  • Provided greater flexibility to the States through the 1332 waiver process
  • Defunded Planned Parenthood for one year and increased funding to Community Health Centers by $422 million
  • Continued to fund Medicaid expansion and did not impact traditional Medicaid 

“Also, it is important to understand how the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score works. The CBO score indicated that up to 16 million more people would be uninsured under the Health Care Freedom Act. This CBO estimate results from repeal of the mandates, meaning people choose not to sign up for insurance. They would not lose access to insurance because the premium support payments, Medicaid and expanded Medicaid all continue to remain in place on the same basis.

“Also, I voted for the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The legislation that we actually voted on in the Senate was significantly different from the original Better Care Reconciliation Act draft. I worked with others to add more than $200 billion in a long-term stability fund and important Medicaid provisions to make sure low-income individuals had coverage. Under the revised BCRA, North Dakota would have received a similar amount of resources as under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), but with more flexibility and a variety of new tools to meet the needs of patients and the state. Between Medicaid, the refundable tax credits, the long-term state stability fund, a new substance abuse treatment fund, and additional federal resources to cover the treatment of Native Americans, the state would have had the necessary tools to provide health care coverage for low-income individuals. At the same time, the legislation would have provided $50 billion in funding to help stabilize the insurance market and make it more competitive so that consumers could have access to better and more affordable health insurance policies. Further, the bill would have phased in over seven years to make sure the states have a long adjustment window to ensure financial viability. 

“We also tried to pass the Obamacare Repeal and Reconciliation Act. That legislation would have repealed portions of Obamacare, while continuing Medicaid expansion and insurance premium support payments giving Congress the time to enact a replacement.

“None of these bills received sufficient support to pass. 

“All along, I’ve said that health care reform will be a process, not one bill. We have worked diligently to get that process underway. We will continue those effort and hope that Democrats will join us to make reforms to the health care system that will provide Americans with access to patient-centered health care and health insurance at an affordable rate.”