VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: On behalf of the President, welcome to the White House.
I'm truly honored to be able to welcome organizations that literally represent millions of Americans and millions of businesses back here to the White House at such a critical time in our efforts to rescue the American people from the disastrous policies of Obamacare.
I'm grateful to be joined by groups ranging from the Chamber of Commerce and NFIB, to Concerned Women for America, the National Taxpayers Union, American Conservative Union, Club for Growth and the like. But thank you to each and every one of you for the way your organizations have stepped forward to make the case to the American people that we can repeal and replace Obamacare with policies that are built on freedom, that are built on state-based reform, and that will give the American people access to the world-class healthcare that they need and deserve.
As we gather today, we are just a few days away from a critical vote in the Congress, a vote to begin the debate on the repeal and replace of Obamacare. And President Trump and I are urging every member of the United States Senate to vote to begin this debate.
Every one of the groups that are gathered here today -- the millions that you represent -- are here to speak with one voice to say to the Congress: It's time to vote. It's time to act. It's time to get on with a debate to repeal and replace Obamacare.
As President Trump said when members of the Senate gathered here at the White House just a few short days ago, inaction is not an option. And frankly, as the President said, any senator who doesn't vote to begin the debate is essentially telling the American people that they're fine with Obamacare.
And that's just not acceptable because we all know the truth. Obamacare is collapsing all across the country as we speak. It's putting a burden on working families and American taxpayers and job creators all across this nation.
We all remember the broken promises of Obamacare. I have Dr. Price here. He and I were both members of Congress when the debate over Obamacare happened in the Congress seven years ago. I can still hear those promises ringing in my ears, can't you? If you like your doctor, you can keep them -- not true. If you liked your health insurance, you can keep it -- not true. The cost of health insurance would go down if Obamacare passed -- not true.
We all know the facts. Even though we were promised that families would save $2,500 a year in premiums if Obamacare became law, according to our analysis at HHS, the average Obamacare plan today costs nearly $3,000 more than a plan did as recently as 2013. While premiums are soaring, choices are plummeting. Next year at least 40 percent of American counties, including nine entire states, will have only one choice of a health insurance provider, which is essentially no choice at all. And in many jurisdictions around the country, there's not even one choice. So the time has come for Congress to act.
The President and I are truly grateful to the organizations represented around here for lending your voices -- voices for working families, voices for businesses large and small -- to our effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. And we just urge you in the days that remain between now and this vote early next week to reach out to people across this country and let them know that we're close. We literally are just a few votes away from beginning a debate that will repeal and replace Obamacare in the United States Senate.
Congress needs to step up. Congress needs to do their job. And every member of the United States Senate should vote to begin the debate to rescue the American people from the disastrous policy of Obamacare, and we're grateful for your support.
With that, I want to recognize the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Tom Price, for this thoughts on this moment.
And let me just say this is a historic moment. For seven years, the American people have seen the broken promises of Obamacare, and we are just days away and a few short moments and just a few votes away from being able to keep a promise that every Republican in the Senate, every Republican in the House has made to the American people.
And our message today, our message to each one of you and the groups that you represent is make sure the American people know that it's time for Congress to act. And it's time for the American people to let their voice be heard. There is no voice more powerful in Washington, D.C. than the voice of the American people.
SECRETARY PRICE: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. You're right, it is an historic moment. This is an historic room, and this an historic time for the American people and for your organizations.
I just want to thank you -- lend my echoing words of the Vice President -- but to thank each and every one of you for the productive and positive discussion and action that you have brought about over the past number of months. Time is of the essence. The fact is that the American people deserve and demand that Washington addresses their problems and their challenges, and this is a challenge that is not unknown to anybody who has been paying attention at all. And that is that the American people desire that healthcare be in the hands of people, in the hands of patients and their families and doctors -- not in the hands of Washington, D.C. That's what this is all about.
There are decisions that will be made over the next few weeks in states all across this land about what 2018 looks like from an insurance standpoint, and the decision that is made in the next few days in this town will dictate and determine what those decisions will be. So as people are wont to say, this problem demands an act of Congress, and so it's an act of Congress that must happen. And we, once again, just can't thank you all enough for being that positive and productive influence on this discussion and this debate.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Tom. Let's send a very clear message in the days ahead that the beginning of the end of Obamacare is when Congress votes to start the debate on a bill that will repeal and replace this disastrous policy.
Early next week, every Republican in the Senate will be called upon to vote to begin the debate, and we urge each and every one of you on all the platforms that you have and all the millions of Americans that you reach to make sure every American knows that every Republican in the Senate should vote to begin the debate. Because once we begin the debate, the President and I are confident, working with all of you, working with the majority in the United States Senate that we will pass legislation out of the Senate, we will move this legislation forward, and we will rescue the American people from the disaster of Obamacare.
So let's go to work. Thank you all very much.