Hoyer Floor Statement on GOP Bill Repealing Health Care Reform Provision

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Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for yielding time.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is a wolf in sheep's clothing. They don't like the health care bill, that's what the Chairman of the [Republican] Conference just said.  He wants to vote to repeal that. We understand that. They want to pick it apart, piece by piece.

Two years ago, we passed a comprehensive health care reform package that is already lowering costs, expanding access, and contributing to deficit reduction.  The Affordable Care Act was a significant moment when Congress once again took bold action to constrain the growth in health care spending and make insurance more accessible and affordable for all Americans.  In the wealthiest country on the face of the Earth, we ought to make sure people can get insurance and have affordable, accessible health care.

Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions – I bet they think that’s a benefit – a protection that will extend to all Americans by 2014.  Insurance companies can no longer drop Americans from their policies when they get sick or impose arbitrary and unfair caps on coverage.  You buy insurance to make sure when you get sick, you have coverage. When you get very sick, you need more coverage, it says you can't be canceled because you're really sick. I think Americans like that.

Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, over 32 million seniors on Medicare have accessed free preventive services.  The Medicare Part D “donut hole” is on a path to close completely by 2020, and seniors who fall into this coverage gap are now getting a 50% discount on their brand drugs. They like that.  Lifetime limits on over 105 million Americans with private insurance have been eliminated.

360,000 small businesses have already taken advantage of tax credits that are helping them provide more affordable coverage to over 2 million workers.  Over 2,800 employers have already received financial assistance that helps them provide affordable insurance to 13 million retirees who are not yet eligible for Medicare.   

CBO continues to project that the Affordable Care Act will reduce the deficit by tens of billions of dollars by the end of this decade.

Despite all of these benefits, today Republicans will take yet another vote to repeal part of the Affordable Care Act.  What they want to do is repeal the Act. That's what the Chairman of the [Republican] Conference said.  I take him at his word.  I appreciate his honesty.  

Today their focus is on the Independent Payment Advisory Board – or IPAB – which couldn’t be a less timely issue.  IPAB is a backstop mechanism to ensure that the Affordable Care Act’s savings and cost containment provisions will be achieved, but CBO has already said they don’t expect it to be triggered at all over the next ten years.  That’s because the Affordable Care Act’s cost containment provisions are already having a significant impact on slowing the growth of health care and Medicare spending. 

This proves that Medicare spending can be constrained without turning Medicare into a voucher program, as the Chairman has said, that forces seniors to spend more and ends the Medicare guarantee.  Americans don’t want that. 

The Republican plan does exactly that – and tries to mask the end of Medicare as we know it by talking about choices and competition.  But, both competition and choice already exist in the Medicare program:  99.7% of beneficiaries have access to at least one Medicare advantage plan, and in the majority of counties, they have an average of 26 private plans to choose from.  And, in spite of all these choices, about 75% of all seniors still choose to remain in traditional Medicare. 

The Republican budget, released just yesterday, paints a clear picture of their priorities – showing once again they stand for ending the Medicare guarantee, shifting ever-increasing costs onto our seniors, and repealing all of the Affordable Care Act’s patient protections. 

I stand behind the cost-containment provisions, the delivery system reforms, the improvements to Medicare, and the new benefits and protections that were enacted under health reform.  And I stand with my fellow Democrats and America’s seniors in support of preserving the Medicare guarantee and ensuring Medicare remains available and affordable for generations to come. And I appreciate the Ranking Member's leadership on this issue and all of those who were critically response for ensuring that Americans have access to affordable, quality health care.