Paul Ryan: "The Worst Is Yet To Come" If We Don't Repeal Obamacare Now


At a CNN town hall on Thursday night, House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke with a small business owner who said that Obamacare saved his life, and explained why he thinks it needs to be repealed and replaced.

QUESTION: I was a Republican and I worked for the Reagan and Bush campaigns. Just like you, I was opposed to the Affordable Care Act. When it was passed, I told my wife we would close our business before I complied with this law. Then, at 49, I was given six weeks to live with a very curable type of cancer. We offered three times the cost of my treatments, which was rejected. They required an insurance card. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I'm standing here today alive.

Being both a small business person and someone with pre-existing conditions, I rely on the Affordable Care Act to be able to purchase my own insurance. Why would you repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement?

SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: Oh, we -- we wouldn't do that. We want to replace with something better. First of all, I'm glad you're standing here. I mean, really -- seriously...

So, Arizona -- this year, the premium increases for people on Obamacare, 116 percent; Oklahoma, 69 percent; Tennessee, 63 percent; Minnesota, 59 percent. The problem is, these increases were double- digit last year. They are really high this year. This thing is collapsing. So, do we want to make sure that a person with -- like yourself, with a pre-existing condition gets affordable care? Of course. Of course.

There is a better way to fix that problem without giving everybody else all these massive premium increases. Deductibles are so high it doesn't even feel like you've got insurance anymore. So we -- obviously, I would encourage you to go to our website and take a look at our plan, but let me just give you a few ideas:

We believe that state high-risk pools are a smart way of guaranteeing coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. We had a really good one in Wisconsin. Utah had a great one. I was talking with a Congresswoman from -- from Washington today who was telling me how good their state high-risk pool is. What I mean when I say this is, about eight percent of all the people under 65 have that kind of pre- existing condition. My mother-in-law -- cancer -- she had melanoma in her 20s, breast cancer in her 50s, ovarian cancer in her 60s. People just have these things. And we don't want people to go poor or go bankrupt because this thing happens to them.

So we, obviously, want to have a system where they can get affordable coverage without going bankrupt because they get sick. But, we can do that without destroying the rest of the healthcare system for everybody else. That's the point I'm trying to make. What we should have done was fix what was broken in healthcare without breaking what was working in healthcare, and that's what, unfortunately, Obamacare did.

So, by financing state high-risk pools to guarantee people get affordable coverage when they have a pre-existing condition, like yourself, what you're doing is, you're dramatically lowering the price of insurance for everybody else. So, if we say let's just, as taxpayers -- and I agree with this -- finance the coverage for those eight percent of Americans under 65 in a condition like yours -- they don't have to be covered or paid for by their small business or their insurer who is buying the rates for the rest of the people in their insured pool, and you'd dramatically lower the price for the other 92 percent of Americans.

Let's just directly fix that so that everybody else can get more competitive rates and they don't have to pay for insurance to try to cover for those kinds of really expensive people. The problem with Obamacare -- the actuary is called a death spiral. It's a really kind of ugly, gruesome term, but a death spiral is a mathematical term. They say when the insurance gets so expensive, healthy people won't buy it because they -- it's just a trade-off. The penalty to not buy is a lot cheaper than buying the insurance, so healthy people won't buy it; therefore, they won't go and participate in the insurance pool to cover the losses that sicker people, who have to have insurance, buy it.

That's what's happening to Obamacare now. So, you have unhealthy people more buying it, healthy people not buying it, and that is why the rates are going up so much. That's why all the insurers are pulling out. The biggest health insurance company in the country last year, United, pulled out of Obamacare. Aetna pulled out of Obamacare. Humana pulled out of Obamacare. As I mentioned, five states now are down to one insurer. Over a thousand counties in America are down to one insurer and they're all getting double-digit premium increases because they have a monopoly.

So, clearly, that's not working. And we see the worst is yet to come. The insurers are telling us they are going to pull out of whole states now. So we've got to step in in front of this problem, because, as republicans, we could just say -- I think the President-Elect said this yesterday -- "We could just sit back and watch it all happen and say 'Oh, look at what the democrats did.'" That would be irresponsible for us to do that.

So, we have to step in and rescue people from the collapse of this law. There are good objectives that were -- that they sought to achieve in this law. We agree with that. We think young people should be able to stay on their parents' plan until they are 26. We think there needs to be a solution, which we have, for people with pre-existing conditions. But we want more choices, lower prices, more competition, no monopolies. That's what we want to replace it with, and that's what we're working on right now.

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