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Affordable Health Care For America Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington D.C.

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Mr. CALVERT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in objection to the Pelosi Health Care Bill which creates over $1 trillion in new government spending. It is funded with the ``Hope'' that our children will figure out how to pay the bill tomorrow and with a ``Change'' in the Medicare program that cuts $500 billion from the over 45 million beneficiaries currently covered.

Provisions within the Pelosi Health Reform Bill will raise premiums and lower access to care for America's seniors. Although Democrats try to present these changes to Medicare as improvements and savings, the White House's own actuaries have stated that these changes will increase Medicare spending at a greater rate than if we had done nothing at all. With the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reporting earlier this year that the Medicare trust fund will be exhausted by 2017, I do not believe this Congress should take any action that hastens the jeopardy already faced by America's seniors.

The Pelosi Health Care Bill cuts $170 billion from the Medicare Advantage Program, which covers almost 50 percent of the Medicare beneficiaries in the 44th Congressional District of California--36,124 senior citizens who rely on this highly successful program for their health care needs. The cuts undermine a program that currently gives seniors the choice to enroll in a private option and that provides the same benefits as traditional Medicare, prescription drug and other additional health benefits, usually with lower copayments.

The proposed changes also will result in reduced benefits for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries or result in higher premiums and copayments for fixed income seniors. But let me be clear--not for an improvement in service, but for the same or reduced level of service. For the workforce paying into the Medicare program, higher taxes are ahead.

In addition to the increased tax burden working Americans will face to keep Medicare afloat, this bill levies a 2.5 percent tax on the incomes of hardworking working Americans who cannot afford insurance. This breaks a fundamental promise of President Obama's campaign that he would not raise taxes on the middle class.

And even as the national unemployment climbs above 10 percent nationwide--over 20 percent in some parts of my district--Speaker PELOSI seeks to place an 8 percent tax on small businesses who cannot afford to provide government mandated ``acceptable insurance'' to their employees. In this economic climate, Congress should be working to enact real reform across the United States that creates jobs and stimulates the economy, not enacting a government expansion and tax regime that will put the jobs of at least 5.5 million largely low wage earners, minorities and young people at risk.

Finally, while Americans struggle to pay their bills and put food on the table, Speaker PELOSI wants even more of their tax dollars to be spent to provide federal health benefits to the 12 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States. As I understand the bill before us today, a person would only need to ``declare'' that they are a citizen, provide a name and Social Security number and they would be eligible to receive health insurance benefits. There is no requirement for the verification of identification documentation. It is absolutely unacceptable that this bill would not, at a minimum, require even one verified identification document in order to receive taxpayer funded health care benefits. The bill should include clear processes and require documentation to confirm that an individual applying for health care benefits is a citizen or legal resident of the United States like the E-Verify program I created in 1996 for employers to verify the legal status of new employees.

The crafting of the bill before us today spent American liberties to purchase House Democrat votes in order to secure a political victory. The resulting legislation has put freedom and American ingenuity under the knife. For the sake of American jobs, American families and future generations, we must kill this bill and resume our work to create jobs, rein in government spending, increase healthcare freedom and choice and getting the U.S. government's financial house back in order.

However, I look forward to voting in favor of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which maintains the current federal government policy of preventing federal funding for abortion and for benefits packages that include abortion. This amendment ensures that federal taxpayers will not be coerced into funding elective abortions and is supported by U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Democrats for Life, National Right to Life, Americans United for Life, Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and many other pro-life groups. I look forward to continuing to work to ensure taxpayer funds are not used to fund abortions and to provide the broadest possible conscience protections for physicians, health professionals, hospitals, insurers, and all those in the business of caring for the health of Americans.

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