Daniel Reilly, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in opposition to the Republican Patient's Rights Repeal bill. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Last year, Democrats acted to reform health care in America: to make it easier for small businesses to cover their employees; to take important steps to bring down costs; and to stop insurance company abuses that bankrupt sick Americans or deny them coverage.
"We acted in the face of crisis: a cost crisis, which saw premiums more than double over the last decade; a coverage crisis, which saw more than 40 million Americans without insurance; and a fiscal crisis, which saw the cost of health care driving our country deeper and deeper into the red.
"A constituent of mind from Southern Maryland recently wrote to thank us for health reform that now lets her carry her 21-year-old daughter on her insurance. But she wrote that something else also inspired her support: seeing 'a lot of other people who are hard working, honest people who were…going bankrupt because of unexpected medical expenses.' Those were the stories we had in mind last year, when we passed the health reform law—and today, as we fight to protect it.
"Nonpartisan observers tell us that it will reduce the rise in premiums for millions, cover 95% of Americans, and contribute to reducing our deficit. The opponents of health care reform have spent more than a year painting it in apocalyptic terms—but they can’t erase the history that proves that bringing affordable care to all Americans has long been the goal of both parties.
"Just yesterday, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said that the Affordable Care Act 'is the law of the land…the fundamental platform upon which all future efforts to make that system better…will be based.'
"In 2008, Senator John McCain said: 'We should have available and affordable health care to every American citizen.'
"And In 2006, when signing a state bill remarkably similar to the Affordable Care Act, Governor Mitt Romney said: 'An achievement like this comes around once in a generation.'
"While our Republican colleagues in Congress failed to take action on health care during a decade of doubling premiums and mounting debt, Congress acted last year. Now, Republicans have come to the floor with a plan to put insurance companies back in charge of American health care—and to strip Americans of their hard-won freedom to make health choices for themselves.
"Once again, families would face insurance companies’ unfair caps on their coverage—or find their coverage cancelled altogether. Once again, insurance companies could discriminate against children with disabilities and pregnant women. Once again, prescription drug costs for our seniors will go up. And once again, small businesses will be without any help to cover their employees in a world of skyrocketing premiums.
"There’s no arguing with the facts: repeal would cost our economy as many as 400,000 jobs per year—jobs that would be lost under the burden of crushing health care costs. And repeal would pile over $1.2 trillion in debt on our children over the next two decades.
"I urge my colleagues: preserve Americans’ freedom to control their own care.
"Join together to protect a system that meets the objectives set by generations of American Presidents: Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama.
"I urge my colleagues: reject repeal."