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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  March 12, 2014 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

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that has come over the past several months as the enrollment has started to ramp up on the affordable care act has been the number of young people that have signed up. we have seen 31% of all of the people who have signed up for insurance exchanges all across this country be 34 years or under, and there is a real signal that young people are recognizing that although they may feel like they are going to live forever, that they desperately need insurance just like everyone else. so, mr. president, that's why i was so glad to see president obama yesterday go on the show "two ferns" to talk about the importance of young people signing up. now, we all know about the "two ferns" effect. previously unknown stars like
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will ferrell and bradley cooper went on "two ferns" and were catapulted to stardom. i'm glad to see the "two ferns" effect has had the same impact on health care enrollment. since president obama went on "two ferns," 19,000 people were referred to the web sites of enrollment from the funny or die web site. by 6:00 p.m. that day, 32,000 people to healthcare.gov. h.h.s. officials said traffic on healthcare.gov had risen by 40% on tuesday to over 890,000 visits on that one day. it's a signal that when young people through whatever means is available to them find out about the benefits of the affordable care act, they're interested.
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and they're signing up. i, frankly, hope that president obama uses more innovative tools and methods to try to get the word out to young adults in their late teens and 20's and 30's about the importance of signing up for the affordable care act. because it's important. 70,000 adolescents and young adults are diagnosed with with cancer every single year in this country. there is 151,000 people below the age of 20 lives with diabetes right now. and so despite the fact that you may think you're going to live forever, you think you may not need coverage, young people need it as well. it's affordable. the president said yesterday on this show you effectively can get coverage for the cost of a cell phone bill and it's true.
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having a cell phone is pretty important but being able to get treated when you have a disease is pretty important as well. in connecticut, if you're a 22-year-old in hartford making a $25,000 salary, which is the salary i made in my first job in hartford, you can get a bronze policy for as low as $66 a month through anthem. if you're 25 years old living in bridgeport making $35,000 you can get a bronze policy for as low as $108 a month. two-thirds of all young adults across the country who are currently uninsured are eligible for these subsidies. and so for all of these young people who were previously going into the marketplace and having to pay full price, often buying insurance on their own with no ability to negotiate a group discount, this health care law is transformational. $50 or $60 a month is the price for propbz plansant -- bronze
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plans and that doesn't count the catastrophic option open to most young people as well. the good news continues to roll in when it comes to the numbers of people signing up. yesterday the administration announced 4.2 million people have enrolled in marketplaces through march 1. 943,000 people enrolled in the short month of february. as i said, 31% of all those people are 34 or under. of course we haven't gotten to crunch time yet. i wish this wasn't the case but i know something about how young people think and too many of them leave decisions until the last minute, whether it be studying for a test or writing a term paper or signing up for health care. and so as we've seen in the past on a lot of these enrollment deadlines like the enrollment deadline for medicare part-d, the surge comes in the final few weeks of enrollment and so we expect to see the numbers pick
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up in a significant way through march. and i would expect, knowing how people in their 20's and 30's think that you will see a major surge in enrollment from young people as well. but it shouldn't wait until the last minute. it does take more than a few hours to look at your choices and decide what's best for you. in connecticut, we have three insurance plans that are offering coverage, but each one of them has three or four different plans. so i would hope that young adults in their 20's and 30's take more than a few hours or a day to sign up, because we want to make sure that you get the plan that's available for you. but it's easy to do. it's easy to do with a phone call to an enrollment center, a visit in connecticut to in-person centers in new haven, and very simple to do on healthcare.gov. in connecticut, our exchange is going like gangbusters. we had a goal of signing up at 80,000 to 100,000 people, and a
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full 30 days before the deadline, we've signed up 152,000 people. and about 25% in connecticut of those individuals are 25 years or under. we're on track to double our original estimates in connecticut. and connecticut was a state that had a pretty high rate of insured to begin with. our delta, to get to full -- to get to full insurance was relatively small compared to other states. but guess what connecticut is doing? connecticut is actually working to implement the law rather than work to go undermine the law. we put a lot of time and thought into getting a working web site, into doing the kind of outreach other states are not doing to try to get people to sign up. and when we've done that, young people, old people across the board have flocked to sign up. i was glad to see the president do his outreach yesterday to young people all across the country. i was glad to see the spike in interest on healthcare.gov. i'm glad to see that 4.2 million
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people have signed up for health care as more people all across the country. young people, especially, are realizing that the affordable care act works. i yield back. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: too often in washington our friends on the left seem to operate under a very dangerous assumption that good intentions are more
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important than a good outcome. i say it's dangerous because we see all the time how liberal washington policies aimed to alleviate problems like poverty or wage stagnation or other social or economic problems seem to make things worse. yet, despite the evidence the policies never scene to change. more money gets thrown at the same failed programs year after year with barely any thought as to whether or not they actually work. obamacare is a case in point. here's a big government bill that washington democrats thought they could just pass and poof, health care would magically be made more affordable for everybody. yet, for millions of americans, just the opposite happened. contrary to the assurances, obamacare has up ended the lives and businesses all across our country.
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it's forced painful choices for people who could barely get by as it was. it is a mess. so you'd assume washington democrats would step back, take a long hard look at the accumulating evidence and start thinking about ways to keep this thing from pummeling even more americans. but you'd be wrong. they just keep doubling down. when the web site crashed, they called it a glitch. when people started losing their doctors and their plans, they told them you can live with it. when americans started sharing their obamacare horror stories, they basically called them all liars. and that would tell you something you needed to know about how much washington liberals care about middle-class americans. they're captive to the most extreme ideologies of the left and they don't even try to hide it anymore. forget reason or economics or sound argument. it's all about ideology with
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these guys. we saw it all in vivid display a couple of nights ago with the democrats all night talk-a-thon on global warming. the reason for the all nighter was pretty obvious. it was a command performance for a left-wing activist donor out in california and the fact that taxpayers were basically subsidizing the whole thing was bad enough, but what about the basic substance of the issue democrats were talking about the other night? what about that? it's just one more case where good intentions trump the impact our proposals would have on ordinary americans. see, the obama administration seems to think that it just wishes really hard and issues enough regulations, it can single-handedly reduce global carbon emissions without bringing beijing and new delhi on board. it's an alternate universe where victory means u.s. emissions going down by some negligible
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amount and where china and india don't simultaneously eclipse that tiny emissions reduction with expanded energy reduction of their own. it is a universe where consequences of acting so recklessly don't seem to matter and it's a universe where middle-class americans somehow don't seem to take the hit of our economic output right on the chin. in other words, it's the kind of thing that could only make sense to a party blinded by extremist ideology. of course washington democrats love to pull out that old straw man and say either you support our approach completely, tpaoepb it won't actual -- even if it won't actually solve the problem it purports to, or you hate the environment. kind of like you said either you vote for obamacare or you hate affordable care act. our constituents remember how that worked out and our constituents are quite capable of seeing the complexity in the world that so often eleads our
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friends -- eludes our friends on the left. they're capable of caring deeply about the environment, for instance, while disagreeing with the administration's ideological crusade. of course every ideological crusade needs an enemy and the administration's war on coal, washington democrats appear to have found their foil. it's not some fat cat. it's not some wall street titan. no. this time it seems to be middle-class kentucky families. miners who struggle every day just to put food on the table. the kind of americans who work hard so the rest of us can have a better life. well, it's unfair and it's wrong. and where washington democrats seem to see faceless adversaries, i see human beings, people who are hurting. i wish my democratic colleagues would join me sometime as i travel around kentucky listening to their concerns. in one recent hearing a miner
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named howard abshi r*e had this message for president obama. this is what howard abshire had to say. "cole and look at our little children. look at our people, mr. president. you're not hurting for a job. you've got one," howard said. "i don't have one." another miner, gary lockehart said his biggest worry was trying to keep a roof over his family's head and food on the table. and when it comes to his fellow miners, here's what he had to say. gary lockehart said this. "many of these men who never asked the government for any kind of assistance in their lives are having to go home and tell their families that their pay is going to be cut to practically nothing, that there will be very little christmas this year, no vacations, nothing
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extra." and miners aren't the only ones affected by all the pain out there in coal country. i'd like to read awe letter i received from -- read you a letter i received from bill skaggs, a businessman and pastor. here's what bill had to say. "we've had to lay off employees due to the closing of mines and the effect they have had. our business is losing thousands of dollars due to the negative impact of the e.p.a.. as a pastor, our benevolence to the community has increased fivefold with help for food and power bills, clothing and just the day-to-day living expenses that families need." now, americans may not always know it, but they owe a lot to coal miners like the ones i represent in kentucky. and whether it's watching a tv show, drying a pair of jeans or saving some leftover for
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tomorrow we often have a miner to thank. that is often true if we try to keep the nights on all night long. so i hope our friends on the other side will remember to be thankful for the electricity that makes all night talk-a-thons actually possible. actually, i still don't get the point of the stunt. they didn't introduce legislation or schedule votes on the national electricity tax they seem to want so badly. and remember, they control the senate so they could bring it up for debate whenever they wanted to. where is the climate change debate? where's the bill? the people who were speaking all night control the senate. bring up a bill. so here's the point. republicans care deeply about the environment. we also care deeply about creating jobs and growing the middle class. we don't think our country should have to sacrifice one priority for the other. the american people don't either. so it's time for washington democrats to drop the billionaire-approved ideological crusade to quit all the talk and
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get on board with sensible, forward-looking action to create jobs. we tried the left's wish upon a star approach already, and real people have been hurt, so why don't we try some changes that will actually work? mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: would the senator withhold his request? the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: mr. president, i want to talk about one of the topics and maybe both of them if i have time that the republican leader brought up today, talking about the new numbers that have been released on the president's health care plan. yesterday the administration announced that slightly more than four million people, 4.2 million people have signed up for health plans through the exchanges. as we all know, that's substantially below their first
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goal and substantially below their adjusted goal just a few weeks ago. one of the things that the -- in a -- in an effort by "the washington post" to find out how many of those people hadn't had insurance before the group that was supposedly served well by this. it's about -- their estimate was in an article also this week, it was about a million people. an incredible amount of effort to add about a million people to the insurance rolls, particularly with the stories from the millions of people that were on the insurance rolls that come to all of our offices every day, stories that clearly reflect problems with this law and problems more importantly for the american families that are impacted. i brought a few of them with me today, things that since i was here talking about this topic last week have come to our office. again, these are stories where we reach back, contacted these
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people, said i was going to come to the floor with their story. i had mentioned their first name and where they are from, but are they concerned with that? time after time, people say oh, no, we want this story told, which is why we have reached out to you. gary in lake ozark, missouri, says what so many people are saying, that his deductible is now the problem. in fact, his deductible on the policy that he can now have -- let me read what he said. before i knew i was going to be able to stay on my company plan -- he is going to be able to stay on his company plan a year longer than he thought he was a few months ago. before i knew i was going to be able to stay on my company plan, i went to the exchange to seek coverage. i found a plan available to me but was shocked to learn that my deductible was going to be over $8,000 per family member. this is -- this is quickly becoming the new group of people
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that aren't able to meet their health care costs. i met with a number of health care administrators, hospital administrators from missouri recently. they said their fastest growing category of unpaid bills, of unpaid debt are from people who have insurance. because so many people with insurance now have a double, is it a deductible because they believe they can't pay, because they believe they can't pay it, they just simply don't pay it. so whether it's the $8,000 on gary's policy or the other lower amounts hopefully i will find some lower amounts. here is one right here from another gary. this gary is in southeast missouri. his wife's deductible went from $500 to $1,800. story after story, and what happens, mr. president, when you have that growing deductible, whether it's the $1,800 or the $3,000 or the $8,000, if it was
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$500 and that was all you were going to have to pay, you might figure out how to put together $500 or maybe even more than that. but when you see an $1,800 number or a $3,000 number or an $8,000 number, apparently people used to pay their $500 deductible, just say well, i can't possibly pay that, so the -- the hospital needs to write that off i guess as bad debt. they are going to come after me for $7,500 just like they would have for $8,000. so a deductible that used to be reasonable and was paid, now the family looks at that and says we can't possibly ever get to that deductible, so really there is no reason to even start down that path. i have a whole list of garys here on top of this. i don't think they are making up the name gary, but they are gary. this is gary from higginsville. i could have organized these to have more variety in the first three. gary from higginsville,
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missouri, says the prescription cost for his premium for humana gold-plus medicare advantage, his co-pays have all gone up significantly. he is concerned about medicare advantage, which just a few days ago i was here -- in fact, i ran into this person reading his letter and said i'm the man you spoke with outside starbucks in independence, missouri, across from the mall. you leaned down to my car door, which the window was down. he had called me over to talk about obamacare. what's changed is that several of my medications have gone up in price, my premium has gone up for medicare advantage, my deductibles and co-pays have gone up, and things that are the result of the cuts made in medicare now actually cost him the money that used to be paid for by medicare. when you cut medicare $500 billion to start a new program, somebody who was on the
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old program is going to be impacted by that, and it's not like, mr. president, when we debated this, we said well, this medicare program is in such great shape that now we can start a new program and use money from medicare to do that. that was done in face -- right in the face of the understanding that medicare, one of the principal obligations that the country has made to retired people, people over 65 going back to 1965, that this was a program that wasn't going to be able to support itself. so what did we decide to do as a congress? and i voted against it and i'm glad i did, but the ultimate decision was we're going to cut medicare to start a new program, and we'll see what happens to a program we already know is in trouble when we do that. frank from kansas city's policy was canceled for not meeting the affordable care act requirements. so he was forced to sign up on
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the exchange for himself, his wife, his 22-year-old daughter, his 19-year-old son, his 11-year-old daughter. frank was told that his 11-year-old daughter would qualify for medicaid. he submitted three applications that they said they had never received, and after two months, they asked him for additional information about his daughter, including tax information not available until april 1. because of all this, the affordable care act is causing his daughtering to uninsured -- his daughter to go uninsured, according to frank, until at least june. this is like one of those states that has an exchange that the states have set up in a couple of places have never been able to sign up one single person, and now it's not october 1. it's now much closer to april 1. and this system is just not meeting the needs of families or meeting the goals that clearly it set for itself.
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farrell from verseilles, missouri, says he is facing financial hardship because his employer cut his hours to avoid covering his health insurance. the employer told him that obamacare was the reason they were cutting his hours. he was teaching at a community college as an adjunct professor for eight years. he said he quit his full-time job because i was -- according to him, he was teaching four courses each semester and a course over the summer. that appeared to be meeting his needs. but suddenly the new law comes along and his employer says if you work as much as you have been working, we would have to provide health insurance. mr. president, something you and i think would both be interested in, too, here, having worked together for a long time is seeing the response that even local governments and state governments have had for people that they always -- because they thought it was the right thing to do, provided health care to
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but suddenly when the federal government says here is something you have to do, then that true an interesting line across our society, that also means if you have to do this, you don't have to do anything for people who don't meet that requirement. and the 30-hour workweek, the impact that that's had on people. i was at a location the other day and i said to the manager of the store, how are you doing meeting -- this was i thought going to be a skill discussion, how are you doing with the skill levels you need to find here for people who are dealing with customers? he said well, it's harder all the time because now we have to hire four people for every -- where we used to have to hire three people because nobody knew that we're -- nobody new that we're hiring is able to work more than 29 hours a week. so instead of finding three people to do that job that work 40 hours a week, now we're having to find four people that work less than 30 hours a week. he went on to say that managers and people who are already at work, he said nobody is getting their hours cut, but when we're
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hiring new people, we're doing what our competitors are doing, which is hiring part-time people that don't have benefits. at lake ozark, despite the fact that he was paying his premiums through his employer, the employer dropped early retirees from the company policy. he didn't feel comfortable submitting his information to health care..gov. he says for security reasons -- nobody contends that this web site is secure or that the information you put on it is secure. in fact, just the opposite. every indication has been it's not secure. he did say he used the web site to find a plan, but three months later when i finally got a quote, it was unaffordable and much higher than the quotes i was able to find outside of the exchange. bob from wentzville, said he has seen his insurance increase by
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14% over the past three years. i feel like writing back to bob and say based on all the other letters, 15%, you should be feeling pretty good about that, but nobody feels good about a 15% increase. it's just that so many people are seeing an increase that is so much higher than that. on the other hand, his insurance premiums have increased by 15%, but back to the earlier discussion, his deductible has gone from $500 annually to $4,000 annually or $8,000 for the family. is this -- is this the kind of insurance that families need for what they used to pay a premium that was just a little bit less, 15% less, but they had a $500 annual deductible, not a $4,000 annual deductible. beverly from patossey went to her doctor for her annual screening and was told she could
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only have one now every two years because of the affordable care act. although her risk of cancer increases with age, she believes, she is getting less care than she got before. holly from jefferson city is a registered nurse who is now working two part-time jobs. she is living paycheck to paycheck. here's what she says in her letter -- "i am a registered nurse. only working part-time at two jobs. i live paycheck to paycheck like most people since the economic crisis. i'm barely able to keep my bills paid, much less able to add another one. i am upset that my right as a u.s. citizen has been taken away from me to decide for myself if i want health insurance or not." i think she could have added to that and decide for herself whether she wanted it or not and what she wanted. now, i can't really quite tell what the president's latest announcement was, but it appears to be that if you had insurance,
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even if it's been canceled, because it didn't meet the qualifications, now somehow it's not canceled, and how you deal with that as someone who has maybe gotten another policy or maybe moved beyond the insurance you had and don't qualify to go back. i don't know how many times we can change this law without just finally admitting the law is not working. let's take everything we know now, which is so much more than the country knew and most members of congress knew when the law passed, let's take everything we know now and go back, madam president, and do this the right way. jason from pleasant hill and his wife purchased plans through their employer. again, they experienced price increases without added benefits and in fact with less benefits than they had before. so just one letter after another , madam president, that comes to our office in various
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ways every day. i could stand here and read them for a long time, but if i -- if i read the clock correctly, i think my time is out and we're ready to move on to other business, and i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, caroline b. mchugh of utah to be united states district judge for the tenth circuits. the presiding officer: under the previous order there will be two minutes of debate confide prior to a vote -- two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote on the mchugh nomination.
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is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. all time is expired. the clerk will call the roll. # vote: vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote?
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if not, the ayes are 97 and the nays zero and the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the clerk will report the leitman nomination. the clerk: nomination, matthew frederick leitman of michigan to be united states district judge for the eastern district of michigan. the presiding officer: there will be now two minutes of debate prior to the vote on confirmation. without objection, all time is yielded back. the question is on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. there is. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote: the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote? if not, the ayes are 98, the nays are zero and the nomination is agreed to. under the previous order, the clerk will report the levy nomination. the presiding officer: judith ellen levy of michigan to be united states district judge for the eastern district. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, all time is yielded back. the question occurs on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll.
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the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or
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wishing to change their vote? if not, the ayes are 97, the nays are zero and the nomination is agreed to. under the previous order, the clerk will report the michelson nomination. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, laurie j. michelson of michigan to be united states district judge for the eastern district of michigan. the presiding officer: there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided 0 prior to the vote on confirmation. without objection. all time is yielded back. the question occurs on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll.
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vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the ayes are 98, the nays are zero and the confirmation is agreed to. under the previous order, the clerk will report the parker nomination.
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the clerk: linda vivienne parker of michigan to be a united states district judge for the eastern district of michigan. the presiding officer: there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to the vote on confirmation. shore senator i ask thaa senatod back all time. the presiding officer: without objection. autumn sometime yieldeall time d back and the question is on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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