Congressman Paul Tonko is fulfilling his campaign promise by making his first legislative action in this session of Congress to stand up for the middle class.
Specifically, Congressman Tonko will be taking aim at the irresponsible repeal efforts underway that would deny Americans protections under the new health care reform law. That repeal will again subject our health care system to the whims of powerful health care and pharmaceutical interests, leaving families and small businesses vulnerable to skyrocketing premiums and unfair practices that deny coverage to millions. Congressman Tonko today offered an amendment to the budget-busting health care repeal effort that adds a robust public option and preserves the exchanges -- state-run marketplaces where individuals can shop for competitively priced insurance.
"Republicans have already dismissed what the voters told them in November, moving to repeal health care reform before lifting a finger to expand the economy and create jobs," said Congressman Tonko. "The message for Americans is loud and clear: Republicans are taking care of their powerful friends in the health care and pharmaceutical industries and ignoring the needs of America's middle class families, seniors, and small businesses."
Congressman Tonko's amendment, which he introduced in the House Rules Committee hearing, will call for the addition of a public option to the repeal legislation, which will drive down premiums and increase competition for quality care. The amendment also requires certification that repeal will not decrease the number of people expected to gain health insurance and not affect the enactment of the exchanges and available coverage choices for all Americans before the repeal can take effect. The health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act will allow individuals and small business to shop for the best price and coverage, both public and private, in a regulated and transparent marketplace. The Republican effort to repeal health care reform will blow a bigger hole in the deficit and continue double-digit premium increases.
Congressman Tonko added: "My amendment creates competition between public and private insurance companies, which will translate into lower costs and better coverage for all Americans. On the other hand, Republicans would rather return our families and small businesses to an insurance market where premiums rise unchecked and companies invent reasons to deny coverage. They are betraying voters who have said loud and clear -- we want jobs and health care decisions to be made between us and our doctors, not insurance companies and Wall Street CEOs. It appears Republicans are saying no to both."
This morning, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act will increase the deficit by $230 billion by 2021 and $1.2 trillion in the second decade. The CBO says the repeal will also result in 32 million Americans losing their health coverage.