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Public Statements

Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. VELÁZQUEZ. Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to the bill before us today.

As we begin the 112th Congress, it is unfortunate that one of the first bills before this body is more about politics than policy. This bill will not help a single small business secure a loan, open a new market for its products, or invest back in its operations. By their own admission, the other side acknowledges this legislation is going nowhere.

It is ironic this grandstanding occurs when health insurance continues to be a top challenge facing small businesses. Over the last decade, small employers have seen their premiums rise by over 114 percent with no sign of relief. It is hard to imagine how repeal will help small businesses. In fact, it could do significant harm. The bill before us today imposes a $40 billion tax increase by eliminating critical small business tax credits. These have already helped reduce costs and increased coverage rates by nearly 12 percent in the past year.

Repeal would also eliminate choices for entrepreneurs. Currently, in the majority of States, the two largest insurers had a combined market share of 70 percent or more. By doing away with reforms that establish new health insurance markets, it will limit small businesses' ability to secure coverage.

Small businesses already pay 20 percent more than their corporate counterparts, and the loss of new safeguards will compound this problem. Because of health reform, insurers are no longer able to raise rates arbitrarily without explaining why. They cannot deny coverage based on a preexisting condition or because an employee gets sick. Passage of this bill would also strip new protections that provide small businesses bargaining power.

We have heard how important reforms were excluded from the original legislation. They say that for this reason, the House will start from scratch and enact a new health care law. However, when Republicans were in control of both Chambers and held the Oval Office, they talked about these solutions for nearly a decade, and yet nothing happened. In the meantime, small businesses saw their employees' premiums rise by an average of $700 every single year. These small businesses now pay nearly $14,000 for a policy that cost $6,500 in 2000. Why should small businesses believe they can deliver on a promise this time?

While our economy has added nearly 400,000 jobs over the past 3 months, more must be done. We must continue to confront the problem of health coverage for small businesses, but voting for today's bill will not do that.

I urge Members to oppose the bill, and I urge the new leadership to focus on meaningful ways to address this Nation's economic challenges.

I reserve the balance of my time

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Ms. VELÁZQUEZ. Madam Speaker, what will small businesses lose if health care reform is repealed? The small business tax credit of up to 50 percent will be lost. Insurers will be able to continue price gouging. Insurers will be able to deny small businesses coverage without any justification. New health insurance options for small businesses will be eliminated. Small businesses will be unable to pool resources to purchase coverage. Insurers will be able to delay small businesses' access to health insurance. New health options for the self-employed will be abolished.

I urge a ``no'' vote. And I hope that we spend the remainder of this Congress on measures that truly get small businesses hiring and creating jobs. What we need is to get this economy back on track. By repealing health care reform, we will not achieve that.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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