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WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) testified before the House Rules Committee today on TrumpCare, legislation that Republicans are expected to bring to the House Floor tomorrow for a vote. Below is his testimony as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Chairman Sessions and Ranking Member Slaughter. I appreciate your giving me the opportunity to speak about the proposed rule, which would have the House consider a bill whose impact would be felt by every person and small business in America.
“According to the Congressional Budget Office, it will force Americans to pay more for less when it comes to their health care. It will cause premiums to rise 24-29% in each of the next two years for individual policyholders.
“It will kick 24 million Americans off their health insurance, including 7 million who are covered under plans offered by their employers. And it will take $6 billion in tax credits away from small businesses that help them cover their employees. In my state, individual premiums would increase nearly $3,500 more on average over the next decade.
“Older Americans would fare even worse, with premiums increasing 66% as a result of the ‘age tax’ in the Republican bill. It also fundamentally alters Medicaid, cutting and permanently capping the program, which millions of seniors, children, people with disabilities and low-income families rely on. It will force states to limit eligibility, cut benefits, and drive health care providers out of the program.
“Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Slaughter, this bill was bad enough when its proponents introduced it two weeks ago. Now, after rushing their bill through three committees without a single public hearing or a single minute of testimony, they are seeking to adopt a manager’s amendment through this rule that makes it even worse.
“The proposed revisions include larger and more immediate cuts to Medicaid. They would impose work requirements on new mothers and low-income students in order to maintain health coverage. These ‘midnight revisions’ would undermine Medicare’s solvency even more than in the original bill while allowing the wealthiest to get massive tax breaks – paid for by middle-class families – even sooner.
“Moreover, it includes the so-called ‘Empire State kickback,’ a backroom deal to upstate New York politicians in order to win their votes for a bill they recognized will be a disaster for their constituents and for our country. In fact, the average New Yorker will see premiums increase $4,204 over the next decade under the Republican bill.
“Shamefully, the ‘midnight revisions’ to the Republican repeal bill do nothing to mitigate the harm this legislation will do to older Americans, forced to pay more for care or forgo coverage entirely. As I have said before, these changes show the desperation of the House Republican leadership and the continued deep divisions within their party. Now, Republican leaders are acting like the crew of the Titanic, failing to cut their speed and reconsider their course as the iceberg comes fully into view.
“It is my hope, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Slaughter, that this Committee will see the folly and the danger in what is being asked of it today. That the Members of this Committee will spare our country the hazards of this deeply flawed bill. And that they will spare its proponents the embarrassment of defeat on the Floor tomorrow, which I believe is still very likely.
“Even if the Committee does not bring to an end this bill’s sprint through the legislative process outside of regular order, you can at least slow it down so that the American people can take the time to look at what impact it will have on their lives and their families and their small businesses and speak with their Members of Congress about it over the April district work period.
“You yourself said, Mr. Chairman, just two months ago on CNN, that any plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act must have feedback from our constituents: ‘We must tell the American people what the plan is. We must lay it out for them. It could be simultaneous, but it must be with a plan that’s well understood, that Members of the Congress can go home, hold town hall meetings, and talk about it.’
“I agree: every Member of Congress ought to take this plan back to their districts and explain to their constituents why they’re for or against it. I urge the Committee to defeat the proposed rule, and allow that to happen. Thank you, and I look forward to your questions.”