Sen. Thune: In S.D., 36% Premium Increase for a Nonsmoker, Age 40, In Silver Plan

Susan Jones | September 8, 2016 | 5:23am EDT
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), flanked by Sens. John Barrasso (left), John Thune (rear) and John Cornyn (right) at a Capitol Hill news conference. (AP File Photo)

( - As the 2017 health insurance premiums come out, "it's just more bad news about this train wreck that is Obamacare," Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said on Wednesday.

He pointed to his own state: "And I'll just say in my state of South Dakota that if you're a 40-year-old nonsmoker in a silver plan, the rate increase for 2017 is going to be 36 percent. And if you look all around the country, you see these headlines.

Thune noted that health care co-ops continue to fail, as big insurers, including Aetna and United Healthcare, pull out of the state-run exchanges.

"And so it is just more bad news. And this is a death spiral, if you will, and something's got to give. And I hope that the Democrats here on Capitol Hill will recognize that, and work with Republicans on a better way, because the American people deserve better."

Obamacare premiums are rising because insurers are required to cover the sickest people, including those with pre-existing conditions, and not enough healthy people are signing up.

Joining Thune at Wednesday's press briefing, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), a physician, noted that Obamacare has been "costly and complicated" from day one. "Now, we are seeing that it is collapsing.

"Starting next year, people all across the country, if they go to the exchanges, they're going to have, in one-third of the counties of this country, only one choice to buy insurance from -- only one in one-third of all the counties.

"In Wyoming, no one's going to have a choice of more than one. This is not a marketplace, as President Obama had promised. It's a monopoly."

Barrasso pointed to one county in Arizona where no Obamacare exchange is operating.

"So we're seeing intolerable increases in the premiums. Many people can't keep their doctors because the one company that's selling insurance may not include their doctor in that network. And President Obama said, you know, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. You may have noticed that on the Obamacare website, they have removed that entire section about how you can keep your doctor. It is not there anymore. Because for 2 million who bought Obamacare insurance on the website last year, you're going to have to switch (doctors)."

Barrasso criticized Democrats for refusing to lift the fines on Americans who "don't buy insurance that won't work for them" or that they cannot afford.

"So Republicans have introduced legislation protecting patients from the Obamacare monopoly. So that if you live in a community where you only have one choice from which to buy insurance; if you live in a community where you have had an intolerable rate increase, and we define that as over 10 percent -- you should not be fined by the federal government. You should not have to pay the penalty. And that's what we are proposing."

He said Americans should not be forced to "pay for the terrible mistakes of this administration."


Also See:

Harry Reid: 'Obamacare Has Been Terrific for This Country'

Gallup: 51% of Americans Disapprove of Obamacare; Record 29% Say It Has Hurt Them

McCaughey: HHS Saying 'Drop Dead to Taxpayers Paying That (Obamacare) Subsidy'

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