Sen. Barrasso Calls Rising Premiums an 'Alarming Side Effect' of Obamacare

By Susan Jones | June 4, 2014 | 11:30 AM EDT

Sen. John Barrasso speaks at a Capitol Hill press conference on Oct. 18, 2011. (AP File Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

( - As the U.S. Senate prepared to give final approval to Sylvia Mathews Burwell as Health and Human Services Secretary on Wednesday, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) took the opportunity to warn once again of Obamacare's side effects, including rising health insurance premiums.

"This is an alarming side effect of the president's health care law," he said, asking if any Democrat would dare to defend premium increases of up to 17 percent in one year alone.

"States are starting to release the proposed premium increases companies expect to charge next year under the Obama health care law, and the numbers are not good for the American people -- for people who wanted affordable care, quality care, access to care," Barrasso said in a speech on the Senate floor.

Barrasso, a physician, noted that in Virginia, every health plan sold in the state exchange expects to raise its rates next year, in some cases as much as 17 percent.

Premiums are going up in Vermont and Ohio.  And as more states release next year's premiums, "more people around the country are going to see these rate increases," he warned.

Pointing to a recent USA Today article, Barrasso noted that many employees also are being hit with higher premiums and higher co-pays.

"Fifty-six percent of companies increased their employees' share of health insurance premiums or their co-payments for doctors' visits last year after the health care law came into effect, and 59 percent of companies intend to do the same thing this year," Barrasso said.

"So people buying insurance in the exchange are being hurt, people who get insurance at work are being hurt, small businesses are being hurt as well."

Barrasso noted that Obama frequently talks about giving everyone "a fair shot," and he questioned if higher premiums are giving small business owners and families the fair shot they deserve.

When they were trying to pass this health care law, Democrats -- including President Obama -- said it would drop premiums by $2,500 per family per a year, Barrasso noted.

He said Republicans asked Obama specifically about those claims in February 2010. "The president denied again to each of us in a face-to-face meeting that they would go up. The president said, quote, 'that's just not the case.'

"Well, now what we do know, it is the case, Mr. President -- and it was the case all along."

Barrasso said people believed the president when he promised he would save them money, but "now they're finding out what they've got: higher premiums, higher costs, higher deductibles, higher copays, loss of coverage, can't keep your doctor.  It's hard to believe the president of the United States."