This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Six years ago, Democrats kept the United States Senate in session until the early hours of Christmas Eve in order to rush through a massive, poorly drafted bill. That bill was Obamacare, and it passed without a single Republican vote. The price for refusing Republican input was high, as Democratic leaders cut notorious deals like the "Cornhusker Kickback" and the "Louisiana Purchase" behind closed doors to bring reluctant Democratic senators aboard.
Obamacare turned out to be as rotten as the deals that begot it. Ever since it was signed into law, the president's signature program has wreaked havoc on Americans' access to affordable, high-quality healthcare.
The ironically named Affordable Care Act was supposed to make health insurance more affordable for working Americans. Sadly, the opposite is true. Despite the president's promise that Obamacare would reduce health care costs by $2,500 per family, health insurance premiums continue to climb across the country. The Obama administration itself has admitted that average national rates are expected to rise by a staggering 7.5 percent in this year alone. For Utah, the outlook is even more bleak. In 2016 plans on the federally run exchange in our state will be 22 percent higher. An increase of this size translates into hundreds of dollars in additional expenditures for Utah's families each year. Many simply cannot afford to pay these higher premiums.
In addition to rising premiums, the failure of Obamacare's CO-OP program has delivered yet another blow to families in Utah and across America. The law created dozens of non-profit CO-OP insurers to expand healthcare options for individuals seeking insurance backed up by billions of dollars of taxpayer money. But the CO-OP program has been so severely mismanaged that thousands of families across the country now find themselves without health insurance.
Many of the executives running these CO-OPs are political activists with no prior business background. And their lack of management experience shows: consider that 21 of the 23 existing CO-OPs have incurred net losses, with more than half experiencing losses of more than $15 million. Every month, non-profit insurers across the country are shutting down due to insolvency. The situation is so dire that nearly half have shut down completely.
Our state has been hit especially hard by this Obamacare crisis. In October, Utah's own Arches Health Plan terminated operations. With this announcement, more than 35,000 Utahns suddenly found themselves without health insurance. The president's broken promises have not only forced thousands of Utahns out of their health plans, but also left federal taxpayers footing the bill.
These are just two of Obamacare's many failings. Detailing all of the law's shortcomings from the spectacular debacle of the healthcare.gov launch to the disappointing coverage statistics would require a book rather than a short article. But Obamacare's obvious failures have not deterred the president from going to extreme ends to preserve his signature law. In fact, the administration has repeatedly exceeded its constitutional authority in attempting to safeguard Obamacare.
The examples of overreach and abuse of power have been well documented: unilaterally moving deadlines set by the statute that later proved inconvenient; rewriting provisions in the law to give favors and carve-outs to political supporters; and selectively enforced other provisions in order to give more teeth to their regulations, to name just a few. As a result, Obamacare has weakened our constitutional system and eroded the separation of powers it enshrines.
The evidence is clear Obamacare has been a disaster. The American people deserve better, which is why I am leading the fight in Congress to replace it.
Even before the law passed, I worked to lay the groundwork in the Congressional Record for the court challenge to the unconstitutional individual mandate. To address some of the law's most dangerous elements, I led the legislative efforts to repeal the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and the medical device tax.
As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I have led rigorous oversight of numerous aspects of the law and the botched implementation of various programs. Along with Sen. Richard Burr and Rep. Fred Upton, I have drafted a replacement plan for Obamacare the Patient CARE Act that replaces the president's failed policies with market-based and patient-centered reforms.
This week marked one of the most important steps yet in the fight against Obamacare. After Republicans committed to work to repeal the president's law, our new Senate majority for the first time passed a bill to repeal Obamacare. As chairman of the Finance Committee, I was pleased to help draft this crucial bill. As our repeal bill goes to the president's desk, I remain as resolved as ever to keep fighting until we succeed in repealing and replacing Obamacare with commonsense reforms.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch has been a U.S. senator for Utah since 1977.