BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Ms. WATERS. Mr. Chairman and Members, this bill is just another attempt to dismantle health care reform. Last year, House Republicans passed H.R. 2 to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act. The landmark health care reform law that was enacted almost 2 years ago is what I'm referring to.
The Affordable Care Act has already made a difference in the lives of millions of Americans. Let me just recount for the Members of this House what the Affordable Care Act has done and is doing.
It prevents insurance companies from dropping people because they get sick. It prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions. It allows young adults to remain on their parents' health insurance until they turn 26. It provides free preventive care to seniors under Medicare. It is phasing out the ``doughnut hole'' and helping seniors obtain affordable prescription drugs. Finally, it provides tax credits to help small businesses purchase health insurance for their employees.
When H.R. 2 failed to move in the Senate, House Republicans began passing bills to dismantle the Affordable Care Act piece by piece and inch by inch. They passed H.R. 1213, which repeals funding for the organization of health benefit exchanges, marketplaces where American families will be able to choose an affordable health care plan. They passed H.R. 1214, which repeals funding for the construction of school-based health clinics. They passed H.R. 1216, which repeals funding for the training of primary care physicians.
Now they're trying to repeal the CLASS Act. The CLASS Act is the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, and it establishes a program to facilitate access to long-term health care services. Who can be against that? The CLASS Act is a voluntary program to provide participants with a cash benefit that can be used to purchase a variety of long-term care services, such as home modifications, accessible transportation, personal assistance services, homemaker services, respite care, home health aids, and nursing support. The program would be funded entirely by the premiums paid by those who choose to participate.
House Republicans' CLASS Act repeal also repeals funding for the National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Health Information. The clearinghouse provides online information about long-term care costs and planning options.
Our Nation is indeed facing a long-term health crisis. People are living longer. As a result, there's a growing need for long-term care for elderly and disabled Americans. There are 10 million people who need long-term care in the United States today. That number is expected to grow to 15 million in the year 2020. There are an estimated 52 million unpaid caregivers providing long-term care services in American homes today. American families are paying more than $50 billion every year on out-of-pocket expenses for long-term care. These families need options, and they need our support.
The CLASS Act does not need to be repealed. If House Republicans believe this program should be fixed, then they should try to fix it. However, they have not even attempted to improve this program or develop other options to make long-term care services available to American families who need them.
It is long past due for House Republicans to stop trying to dismantle health care reform and start working with us in a constructive, bipartisan manner to improve our Nation's health system. I would urge my colleagues to oppose this bill and support solutions to America's long-term care crisis. Ladies and gentlemen, what we are discussing today is precisely what Occupy Wall Street was all about. It's about what are we going to do to deal with that 99 percent out there who simply need some safety nets that their government could easily assist with.
Health care is a problem in this country. Not everyone can afford it, and I would ask my colleagues to take the politics out of this issue. The American public needs this health care reform. And the Occupy Wall Street people who are out there simply sent a message to say, okay, America, stop being simply on the side of the 1 percent, look at the 99 percent. I would urge my colleagues to do that.
I yield back the balance of my time.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT