Remarks by the Vice President on Obamacare
1:22 P.M. CDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hello, Wisconsin! (Applause.) It is great to be back, great to be back with you all and back with my friend, Governor Scott Walker. More on him in a moment.
Before I begin, though, allow me to take a moment to acknowledge what I learned about on my way here to Wisconsin today, the loss of American servicemembers that took place in Afghanistan. On my way here, I was informed that U.S. servicemembers were killed and wounded in an attack in Afghanistan. The President and I have been briefed. The details of this attack will be forthcoming.
But suffice it to say, when heroes fall, Americans grieve, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these American heroes.
It is great to be back in the Badger State. Thank you all for the warm welcome. And I bring greetings today from my friend, the man that Wisconsin voted overwhelmingly to make the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
The President asked me to be here today to thank the good people of Wisconsin not only for that decisive victory but also to assure you that the Badger State has a friend in the White House. You’ll hear that firsthand when President Trump comes to Wisconsin on this coming Tuesday, and I know you're all looking forward to it.
Folks, in President Donald Trump, you elected a fighter and a winner, and he will never stop fighting for the American people and his agenda to make America great again. I promise you that. (Applause.)
But you all know about fighters, because that's also a pretty good description of the man who just gave me that very kind introduction.
You know, I’ve met quite a few governors over the years. I’ve even had the privilege to be one myself, in the state of Indiana. So let me just say, I mean it from my heart when I tell you, Governor Scott Walker is one of the best governors in the history of this state and in this history of this country. Would you all mind getting on your feet and giving a rousing round of applause to Governor Scott Walker for the leadership that he provides every day. (Applause.)
Let me also thank two more distinguished Wisconsin public servants who are here today. I had the opportunity to serve with the first one in Washington, D.C., for all of my 12 years in the Congress, and I know full well that in Washington, D.C., there is no great stalwart for conservative principles and values that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner. Congressman, thank you so much for being with us today. (Applause.) Thank you for that. So well deserved.
And also I’m so honored to be joined by another principled leader who fights for Wisconsin and fights for conservative values every day, Congressman Glenn Grothman. Thank you so much for being here. (Applause.)
President Trump and I couldn’t be more grateful for the support of both of these leaders in the Congress of the United States.
And let me also thank our host today, Bob Hillis and the whole team here at Direct Supply for welcoming us to this extraordinary campus and this extraordinary American success story. (Applause.)
It’s been 30-plus years, you’ve built everything that matters, Bob -- a good name, a strong and prosperous company that has made this community and made this state better for it. Direct Supply is a true American success story, and that round of applause is so well deserved.
You know, I like to say that President Donald Trump has a three-part agenda for this administration -- jobs, jobs, and jobs. And we are here to talk about the kind of changes that will promote a growing America. (Applause.)
Since day one of this administration, our President has taken decisive action to put America back to work and get our economy moving again.
First off, if you haven’t noticed, the American people elected a builder to be the 45th President of the United States of America. And we're actually at the end of what the President called Infrastructure Week, and I’m going to make you a promise -- and people heard about it all across Washington, D.C. and all across America -- President Donald Trump is going to keep his promise to rebuild the infrastructure of America and give us the best roads and bridges and airports and ports in the world. (Applause.)
Just a few days ago in Cincinnati, the President declared that in his words, the “American people deserve the best infrastructure anywhere in the world.” And he laid out a “Buy American, Hire American” plan to rebuild our country.
President Trump is going to make historic investments in our national infrastructure so that Wisconsin and states all across this country will have the infrastructure the best we've ever had.
But this President’s leadership doesn’t stop there. From the outset of this administration, I’m glad to report to you that President Trump has signed more laws into effect to roll back red tape than any President in American history. (Applause.)
He’s supported energy infrastructure in this country the day that he authorized the Keystone and Dakota pipelines to make affordable American energy flow for our business and our homes. (Applause.)
And just over a week ago, President Donald Trump put American jobs and American workers first when he took decisive action to withdraw the United States of America from the Paris climate accord. (Applause.)
It really is remarkable. The burden placed on our country by the Paris climate accord, by one estimate, would have cost the American people 6.5 million jobs in the next 25 years, including 3 million manufacturing jobs, so important here in the heartland, while letting countries like China and India off virtually scot-free.
In withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, President Trump put Pittsburgh over Paris. He put Milwaukee over Milan. (Applause.) In a word, President Donald Trump put America first, and he always will.
Folks, that’s what American leadership looks like. And this President’s leadership is making a difference every single day. American businesses are growing and investing in America again. They're creating jobs in this country instead of shipping them overseas.
In fact, since the outset of this administration over 600,000 new private-sector jobs have been created. And under President’s watch, unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years. America is back under the leadership of President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
But as the President Trump likes to say, at this White House that’s just what we call a good start.
And before I go one step further, let me just tell you from the outset that no matter what the media may be focused on on any given moment, I promise you President Donald Trump will never stop fighting. He will never stop working. He will never stop rolling up his sleeves every single day to ensure that the American people, and the agenda in their interest is advanced of good jobs, safe streets, and a boundless American future. Count on it. (Applause.)
The truth is that we’ve a lot of important work yet to do. And working with Wisconsin’s leaders in the Congress, before this summer is out, maybe chief among those obligations, chief among those challenges is I promise you President Donald Trump and I are going to work our hearts out with these congressmen, and we're going to keep the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. (Applause.)
It’s mostly what brings me here today. We all remember the broken promises that helped Obamacare get passed to begin with.
They said if you like your doctor you could keep them. Remember that one?
They said if you like your health insurance you could keep it. We were told that health insurance costs would actually go down not up.
Every single one of those promises has been broken. Now we know the facts. Just last month, our administration released a new study proving that Obamacare has made health insurance unaffordable for millions of Americans.
Here in Wisconsin, as the Governor just said, Obamacare has spiked premiums on the individual market by 93 percent in just the past four years. President Obama promised that you’d save up to $2,500, but the average premium costs nearly $3,000 per year more today than it did in 2013.
And here’s the disturbing thing, folks, Obamacare is a disaster here, but Wisconsin actually is doing better than most other states in the country.
Nationwide, Obamacare has more than doubled premiums for working families. From coast to coast, Americans are facing double-digit premium hikes heading into 2018. It’s remarkable in some states we've actually seen health insurance premiums go up not by 93 percent, like here in Wisconsin, but in some cases, nearly 200 percent increases on working families and small businesses.
While Americans are paying more, they’re also actually also getting less for it.
Beyond the premiums, Obamacare plans have skyrocketing deductibles. The cost of than $6,000 in deductible is average for what’s called a cheap plan. I just heard about it from many of the business leaders that have gathered here today and shared their personal stories.
Obamacare plans offer fewer and fewer doctors and providers, making it much harder for working families to get the care that they need.
The American people know a bad deal when they see one, and that’s why they’re avoiding Obamacare like the plague. The truth is the most recent information shows that more than 115,000 Wisconsin citizens paid $22 million in penalties to the IRS rather than even buying an unaffordable Obamacare plan. And nationwide, 6.5 million Americans paid $3 billion in penalties instead of signing up for Obamacare.
And going forward, many Americans might not even be able to sign for Obamacare if even they want to because health insurance companies are pulling out of Obamacare exchanges left and right. Wisconsin has already lost four insurers in the past few years. States across the country have lost 83 insurers in 2017 alone. In fact, at this very moment, a third of America’s counties -- and five whole states -- only have one choice of insurance company, meaning they essentially have no choice at all.
And it’s only going to get worse. In just the past few months, health insurers have said that they’re abandoning Obamacare in nearly two dozen markets, and tens of thousands of Americans, or more, won’t have any insurance coverage at all.
Just this week, more than 13,000 people in Ohio learned they’ll have no Obamacare choices next year. In Missouri, 25 counties may be without health insurance coverage.
And just next door, in Iowa, it looks like very soon 94 of 99 counties will have no Obamacare insurance to choose from at all, leaving tens of thousands of working families without access to the healthcare that they need.
Folks, we’re talking about real people, a real crisis -- and good people are being hurt for it, people like Julie Champine, who’s actually here with us today.
I just had a chance to visit with Julie and her husband, and her story is a story that literally millions of Americans are facing every day. Julie has been buying health insurance for her family on the individual market ever since 2004. Now, Julie I can tell is a hardworking American. She’s a great woman and has worked in a small business and living out her dreams every day. She has a great family. She’s a mother and grandmother. But she’s had some health challenges and issues. And we talked about them, and health insurance has been vitally important to her.
Julie wanted to believe it when President Obama promised her that she could keep her plan, that she keep her doctor under Obamacare, but she found out the hard way that that just wasn’t true.
Julie lost her family’s health insurance plan. She lost her doctor. And ever since, Julie has been forced to buy health insurance on the Obamacare exchange -- insurance that she can’t really afford, can’t even use because the deductibles are so high. Last year alone Julie’s Obamacare plan cost more than $9,000 in premiums, and it still had a deductible of $13,000.
And it’s only gotten worse. Late last year, Julie found out that her premiums were going to increase by another $2,600 in 2017. Her Obamacare plan costs more than her mortgage, and she can’t even use it.
Folks, Julie literally can’t afford Obamacare. In fact, as she just shared with me, Julie made the choice to stop paying for her health insurance for three months just so she could afford to buy Christmas presents for her children and grandchildren.
Folks, that's just plain wrong. No American should ever have to choose between their health care and their grandkids. It’s heartbreaking. And as Julie says, she essentially has got to a place where she said, “We have no hope.”
But as I just told her, help is on the way. (Applause.)
Julie is here and she’s being willing to be the face of Obamacare’s failures here. But she’s hardly alone. I talked to people in Julie and her husband’s situation every day, all across this country. We hear from them. I see them as I travel. She is living proof that Obamacare is collapsing and really taking the opportunities and frankly the quality of life of the American people with it.
As President Trump said just a few days ago, “Obamacare is dead.” That's why Obamacare must go. (Applause.)
The truth is you’d have to be blinded by partisanship not to believe otherwise -- and unfortunately some people are. Democrats in Congress to be exact.
They’re the ones who gave us Obamacare, and now, as your congressmen will tell you, they won’t lift a finger to help us rescue the American people from this mess that they created.
Literally every single Democrat in Washington, D.C. would rather let Obamacare continue to collapse and put an enormous burden on the American people than help President Trump and Republicans in the House and Senate bring healthcare relief to hardworking Americans like Julie.
But as I told her help is on the way, and the Obamacare nightmare is about to end. (Applause.)
Under President Donald Trump, we will rescue the American people from the disaster of Obamacare and give the American people the world-class healthcare that they deserve.
And before this summer is out, we’re going to finish what Wisconsin’s own Speaker Paul Ryan started. And we’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all. Can we hear it for Wisconsin’s own Paul Ryan for the great work he’s done. (Applause.)
Building on the work that Speaker Ryan and these great members of Congress did, our administration is working as we speak with the leaders in the United States Senate -- leaders like Wisconsin’s great Senator Ron Johnson -- to keep our promise to end this failed law, and I know he’ll be there. (Applause.)
We’re going to repeal Obamacare’s job-killing mandates and remove the burden of Obamacare’s taxes on the American people.
We’re going to give Americans more choices with expanded health savings accounts and a new tax credit to help you buy the insurance you need at a price you can afford.
We’re going to make sure that every American with preexisting conditions has access to the coverage and the care they need -- no exceptions. (Applause.)
And we’re going to reform and strengthen Medicaid to help the people who truly need it the most by giving states like Wisconsin the freedom and flexibility you need to take care of your most vulnerable -- because this President believes in state-based solutions, not one-size-fits-all mandates from Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
And the truth is under Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin has already innovated to provide healthcare coverage for your most vulnerable. They've been setting the pace across the country. I know your governor is seeking even more freedom and flexibility with his “Wisconsin Works for Everyone” plan, and under this administration, I promise you Governor Walker will be able to bring Wisconsin solutions to meet the unique healthcare challenges facing the people of Wisconsin. When we repeal and replace Obamacare, Wisconsin will be able to design its own healthcare system for the people of this state. (Applause.)
Governor Walker is going to be able to do it the Wisconsin Way, which is as I like to say, is the American Way -- state-based solutions and reform.
Folks, when the Congress sends us a repeal-and-replace bill to President Trump’s desk, we’re going to do nothing short of rescuing working Americans from the consequences of Obamacare’s collapse. And it will be a historic day for American health care.
It’ll create a dynamic national health-insurance market with lower costs, higher quality, and more choices for working families by the time we're done.
It’ll give American businesses like all those that are gathered here today the freedom to give their employees the coverage that they want to give them, and that they need.
And after seven failed years of Obamacare, we’ll finally put the American people back in control of their own health care -- people like Julie and her family.
My friends, we’ve come to a pivotal moment in the life of our nation. For the past seven years, we’ve had a healthcare system based on the flawed premise that the federal government should order every American to buy health insurance, whether you want it or need it or not; that bureaucrats and politicians know better than patients and doctors what they need; and worst of all; that the American people can’t be trusted to run their own lives or make their own healthcare choices as they see fit.
We have a chance before us today to restore a healthcare system based on the time-honored American principles of personal responsibility, free-market competition, state-based reform, and above all else, we have a chance to restore a healthcare system based on the ultimate American principle -- freedom and the freedom of the American people to live their lives and make their choices as they see fit. (Applause.)
So we got our work cut out for us. I mean we are talking about Washington, D.C. now. But I am confident that if all of you will speak up, all of you will continue to stand up, and let your leaders in Washington, D.C. know just how strongly you feel, Julie coming over here and sharing her story was deeply inspiring to me. These business leaders that came out and shared their story while the media looked on was deeply inspiring to me.
But make no mistake about it. This is an important time to let your voice be heard so that not only can we get this country on the right track when it comes to healthcare reform, but that we can put America back on the right track to opportunity, prosperity, and greater freedom for every American.
From this day forward, I would submit to you that we need every ounce of your enthusiasm, your energy, your conviction, and your passion.
And in these divided times in the life of our nation, I would tell you that from my heart that we might just need one more thing if you’re of a mind.
In much more challenging times in the life of this nation, people that have taken time from time to bow the head and bend the knee have made a difference in this country. So it would be a good time to do that.
Now I’m not talking about praying for any particular officeholder or any particular agenda. I rather like what Abraham Lincoln said when during his time he was asked once if he thought God was on the side of the Union Army. Lincoln responded, he said, rather than asking whether God is on our side, I’d rather concern myself more with whether we were on God’s side.
So I’d just encourage you to pray for our country. Pray in these challenging times that Americans will continue to come together. Because I know that with your help, with these great leaders in your statehouse and great leaders in the Congress, with President Donald Trump in the White House, and with God’s help, I know we're going to make America safe again. I know we're going to give Americans the ability to make choices in healthcare that will improve their lives again. I know we're going to make America prosperous again.
And to borrow a phrase, I know we're going to make America great again.
Thank you very much. God bless you, Wisconsin, and God bless the United States of America.
1:44 P.M. EDT