Mr. CICILLINE. Mr. Speaker, America is the strongest Nation in the world, we hold our freedoms sacred--and we have fought to protect these freedoms for centuries, and many have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Yet, there is a great and impending threat to that strength and freedom, a threat that imperils millions of Americans--the repeal of our Nation's Health Care Reform.
As a new member of this Congress, protecting Health Care Reform is the first line in the sand. I was sent to Washington to fight for Rhode Islanders. As I have heard loudly over the past year, and witnessed first-hand as a Mayor for the last 8 years, families in my state have spent enough time awake at night worrying about where they'll find work, or the security of their current job. I will not support any action that places an additional burden on the people of Rhode Island. I will not have them lie awake at night, now having to once again worry that they will lose their health care when they need it most, or wondering how they'll pay for this month's prescriptions, or whether their child will be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
Just yesterday I had the privilege of hearing from a Rhode Islander, Alex Lataille, who spoke at the one and only hearings Congress had, to discuss the negative effects of repealing the new health care law.
Alex graduated last May with two bachelor's degrees, and while looking for a job after graduation, he is able to afford health insurance because he can stay on his parents' policy. Repealing this law means Alex and millions of Americans will lose their coverage.
Recently while having breakfast in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, I met a young woman named Beth. She said she was going to be a constituent of mine, and she had only one request. For years she had been, and remains, an insurance sales agent. But for as many years, she has been denied access to health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Each and every day served as a painful reminder that while she was selling insurance to others, she was being denied the very same coverage. As someone well attuned to the health care industry and the Affordable Care Act itself, this young woman knew that health care reform meant hope, provided certainty, and would finally allow her to get the access to affordable health care she would need--relieving her of years of fear and anxiety. She asked for my commitment to defend health care reform.
The Affordable Care Act establishes a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan--one that would provide new coverage options for Americans like Beth until 2014, when, finally, all discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions will be prohibited. Recently I also had the opportunity to speak with Susan, a mother of five from Rhode Island. Susan and her husband Ed are both middle-income earners. Recently their two sons, age 22 and 23, graduated from college. Both sons found entry level work, but neither receives health insurance from their employers. Under the current law, both sons will be eligible for coverage under their mother's health insurance plan when it renews in eight months. Susan went on to tell me that it would cost her more than $600 per month to provide coverage to her sons through COBRA. She said that with three children still at home, and despite the fact her and her husband are employed, they cannot support the added expense beyond eight months.
With repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the temporary gap that Susan and her family face would become a permanent gap. We are sending a deplorable message to Americans, and indeed the world, if we abandon hard working men and woman like Susan and Ed, and let their two sons--both college graduates, both duly employed, go without health coverage until they find jobs that provide health insurance.
I come to this Congress to help bring common sense solutions to complex problems. When I look at the impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act, I think about the struggles of Alex, Beth and Susan, Ed and their two sons. I think about the number of Rhode Islanders who will once again find themselves saddled with greater financial burdens. I think about the many men, women, and children of my state who will once again face uncertainty over something as fundamental as their own health and well-being. When I think about these consequences, it is common sense, and an understanding of the struggles faced by so many Rhode Islanders that compels me to object so strongly to this proposed repeal.
I was sent here to find practical solutions to solve the problems facing Rhode Island families. Let's work to improve this law, not repeal it.