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Public Statements

Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011: House of Representatives

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Chairman, the fishing industry is a crucial part of our Nation's economy, and catch shares pose a serious threat to the vitality of the fishing industry. Catch shares is a system where fishermen have to buy the right to fish, and only those who buy this right are given the opportunity to catch a portion of fish. I don't believe any fisherman should have to buy the right to go fishing.

What is perhaps most concerning is NOAA's use of important cooperative research and monitoring funds in a carrot-and-stick operation that pressures regional fisheries management councils to adopt catch share programs.

Mr. Jones' amendment would simply prevent NOAA from spending funds to push another restrictive management system before they get the current system right. Despite our calls on NOAA to make programs that gather scientific data and keep fisheries open their priority, NOAA has failed to listen. And that is why I urge my colleagues to support this amendment by Mr. Jones.

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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Chairman, I respect Dr. Burgess a great deal, but I have no idea why he would be opposed to having an agency that is essentially putting a check on the insurance companies. The problem is that the insurance companies keep raising rates, they don't show the consumer what the real benefits that they're receiving are, and what we need is more transparency and some way to review these insurance premium rates so that they don't get out of hand.

The fact of the matter is that this agency, working with States, has already had great success. In Connecticut, regulators recently rejected a proposed 20 percent rate increase by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. In Maine, the State superintendent rejected WellPoint's Empire Blue Cross request to raise rates by 23 percent. Colorado, also, and in California, the review prompted Anthem Blue Cross to withdraw its request for a 39 percent premium increase.

Why are you objecting to us trying to put a check on these insurance companies that keep raising their rates at outrageous levels? That's what this is all about. I oppose this amendment.

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Mr. PALLONE. The problem for American consumers is that the insurance company gouges them with high premiums and gives them lousy benefits. So all we've been trying to do with health care reform is make it possible for a consumer to get an affordable policy and to have a decent benefits package.

I, for the life of me, don't understand why the Republicans don't want that to happen. Why do they want the consumer not to be able to get affordable insurance or to be able to get decent benefits?

People are amazed because they expect that their insurance policy is going to provide physician care, hospital care, emergency care, prescription drugs, and oftentimes it doesn't even provide all these things. So there should be an essential benefit package.

If you're a big corporation, you can go out and get a nice benefit package for employees, and you can get an affordable policy. But if you're a small business or you're an individual, you can't do it. So all we're doing is trying to level the playing field so that the little guy can get the good benefit package and get the affordable insurance just like the big corporation.

Again, I don't understand why our Republican friends would not want that to happen. And it's just practical. It's just a practical solution here.

If you pass this amendment, then we're going to go back to the same thing again where that average American can't get the good policy and can't get affordable insurance. It's not fair. It's an issue of fairness. So oppose this amendment.

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