BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. I thank my colleague for yielding to me.
I must admit that I feel somewhat, gosh, it seems like only yesterday that the Republicans were accusing us of not taking care of what was the business at hand, which was job creation and what they call reckless spending. They accused us of wasting our time in the 111th Congress where we should have been dealing with jobs and spending, and they are doing the same thing.
They are wasting their time. The first month of the 112th Congress, they are wasting their time trying to repeal health care for Americans, the Affordable Care Act. It's mind-boggling to me that after the Democrats' first month in office we dealt with the recovery package, jobs, and thereafter we went through a long process of putting in place a measure that will create 4 million new jobs in this economy that they ran into the ground.
We pulled the car out of the ditch, got the car running, ready to create 4 million new jobs, health care, 4 million new jobs to accommodate the 32 million more Americans who would have access to the health care system in this country as a result of our passage of that act. And the Republicans, the first thing they do is want to kill a job-creating act that will enable their constituents and mine to have affordable health care.
It boggles the mind that we would want to turn the clock back, that we would want to start walking in the opposite direction, taking away benefits that have already gone into effect under the health care act that we passed. They want to hurt small businesses which are able to receive a 35 percent tax credit when they spend money insuring their employees.
I saw a report earlier today indicating that hundreds of thousands of new policies have been issued by insurance companies based on these small businesses of less than 50 people that are choosing to offer health care insurance to their employees. That is significant.
The health insurance industry is making a profit by offering fair coverage to Americans. Preexisting conditions were something that young people, children, were denied insurance for under the old regime of insurance regulation. Under our act that the Democrats passed, no more can you ban children from getting insurance based on preexisting conditions, and that is something that's good.
My colleague from Iowa was just talking about a young child in his district who would be denied coverage for a preexisting condition if his parents had to go back into the market to purchase insurance due to loss of a job or whatever, move, whatever the case might be. So this is quite significant. We don't want to take that health care coverage away from the children who have received it even though they have preexisting conditions.
The $250 rebate for seniors who had reached the dreaded doughnut hole, seniors got a $250 check in the mail in 2010 to help them with that. In 2011, they will get a 50 percent discount on all brand name and generic drugs, 50 percent. That is going to help so many Americans with their drug bills. This is what they want to repeal. They want to cost you, as a consumer, more money for prescription drugs.
And I am happy to stand on the side of those who say ``no'' to a repeal of the health care legislation that we passed.
They want to be able to repeal provisions in the law that prevent and prohibit insurance companies from canceling your insurance when you get sick. That's a commonsense regulation to protect American consumers. My friends on the other side of the aisle would, at the behest of those in the insurance industry who spent about $100 million to defeat health care legislation--and that was unsuccessful, so they went out and spent hundreds of millions of dollars more to defeat the Democrats who voted for it. And so now we are at the point where they want to reciprocate to those who elected them at the expense of the very American people who voted for them. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, Mr. Speaker, it really does not.
Lifetime caps on coverage already in effect, they would repeal that. They would allow the sale of insurance policies that would have a cap on them, a lifetime cap. So you would pay ever-increasing premiums with an ever-lessening amount of lifetime insurance coverage.
Well, we have taken that cap off. We have taken the unfairness out of that equation by mandating that those clauses in insurance contracts are void and unenforceable. So no more lifetime caps on insurance. These are some of the things that enabled the insurance companies and their corporate bosses, offices, shareholders and the like to obtain millions and millions and billions and billions of dollars of profits every year, going up every year.
Your premiums going up also, just reckless; no regulatory impact, no care about what that's doing to America.
It's actually costing the taxpayers a lot of money, Mr. Speaker, because if people don't have insurance, that does not immunize them from getting sick.
We're all going to get sick one day. We're all going to need medical care. We're all going to, at some point, need the care of a doctor or a nurse. And it costs money. And if we don't have insurance, it can't be paid for. So people without insurance don't get access to the health care system until they get so ill that they have to go to the emergency room. And at that point, taxpayers have to subsidize that cost. And so it stands to reason that with 17 percent of our gross domestic product being spent for medical care in this country, and the fact that that has an impact on our interstate commerce, it means that the Federal Government certainly has a role to play in regulating the health insurance industry. And that's exactly what we did.
I want to now recognize, or flip it, if you will, back to my good friend from the Virgin Islands.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT