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Public Statements

Protecting Access to Healthcare Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ANDREWS. I thank my friend for yielding and for his compliment.

When our mothers and fathers go to the doctor or the hospital, we want to be sure they get the best health care that can possibly be delivered and that their doctor and their family think they ought to get; and that health care should never be subject to the strategic plan of any insurance company or the whims of the marketplace.

Because it is not profitable, as a general rule, to take care of the aged and the infirm, President Johnson and this Congress, in 1965, created the Medicare guarantee, and they guaranteed that our seniors and people with disability would get the care they need irrespective of the whims of the marketplace. The majority brings this bill to the floor today because they raise fears about what might happen to the Medicare guarantee 10 years from now.

There is a very important question about Medicare before this Congress, but it's coming about 8 days from now, not 10 years from now, when the majority will bring yet another budget that systematically unravels and ends the Medicare guarantee.

Call it what they will, when you have a system where the healthiest and the most prosperous and, in some cases, the youngest retirees can opt into a private insurance system, those that will be left in regular Medicare will be the aged and the infirm and the poor. Medicare will then go the way of Medicaid, which their budget cuts by nearly 40 percent, according to some estimates.

Frankly, as a diversion from the real threat to Medicare, which is yet another Republican budget coming to this floor 8 days from now that will end the Medicare guarantee, we now have a series of wild accusations about the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which the Congressional Budget Office says, based on current cost performance, would have no role for at least 10 years.

So we hear all these things about these unelected bureaucrats making decisions. I would say, Madam Chair and fellow House Members, consider the source.

Two years ago, we heard that everyone in America would be in a government-run health plan if the Affordable Care Act passed. It hasn't happened.

Two years ago, we heard that every small business in America would be forced to buy unaffordable health insurance for their employees. It hasn't happened.

Two years ago, we heard that every American family would have to bear a crushing tax increase because of the Affordable Care Act. It hasn't happened.

Two years ago, we heard there would be drastic cuts in benefits to Medicare beneficiaries because of the Affordable Care Act. Not only has it not happened, benefits have increased. Seniors pay a lower share of their prescription drug costs and Medicare pays more. Seniors have access to annual preventive checkups without copays and deductibles. It hasn't happened.

Finally, lest we forget, those who say the IPAB is such a virulent threat to Medicare and said there were death panels in the Affordable Care Act, where are they? Can anyone on the other side point to one person who has gone before a government committee and been denied health care since the Affordable Care Act and as a result of that act?

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Mr. ANDREWS. It is a fiction--it is a distortion--and here we are at it again.

Now, in the first 2 weeks of their majority, the majority came here and made a promise to the American people. They said: Yes, we're going to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but then we're going to replace the Affordable Care Act. It was repeal and replace.

We've had the repeal as a recurring scenario on the floor. This is just another chapter in it. Where's the replace?

For the provision that says that people 26 and under can stay on their parents' plans, if you repeal the Affordable Care Act, where is your bill to replace it?

For the provision that says that no person can be denied health insurance or charged more for it if they're diabetic or if they have breast cancer or asthma, where is their replacement?

For the provision that says that seniors who fall into the doughnut hole get significantly greater help in paying for their prescription drugs, where is their replacement?

For the provision that says that small business people who voluntarily provide health insurance to their employees get a significant tax cut, where is their replacement?

There's a saying that our friend from Texas says about being all hat and no horse. The majority is all repeal and no replace.

So this is yet another example of a debate that's tired, worn out, and seen its day. The Affordable Care Act is helping improve the lives of Americans. An empty political debate like this one isn't, and certainly ending the Medicare guarantee, as the Republicans will try to do in 8 days, is the wrong way to go, and so is this bill.

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Mr. ANDREWS. I thank my friend from Michigan for yielding, and I want to comment on something, Madam Chair, that my dear friend from Michigan, the chair of the Ways and Means Committee, said. As has become part of the Republican catechism, he talked about the so-called Medicare cuts that were in the Affordable Care Act. It is correct that in the Affordable Care Act we reduced Medicare spending by $495 billion by cutting corporate welfare to insurance companies, by cutting overpayments to medical equipment suppliers, and cracking down on fraud and abuse of the Medicare program. The majority must agree with these ideas because in the budget they are marking up today in the Budget Committee, every penny of that $495 billion in savings is included in the majority's budget. The majority must agree with these savings, and I commend them for it, because the budget resolution that passed here last year that essentially every member of the majority voted for included every penny of that $495 billion in savings.

So I would ask my friends on the other side that if they're so in objection to those cuts, why did you vote for them last year? And why are they in your budget this year? I would be happy to yield.

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Mr. ANDREWS. Because the gentleman's point was there was something wrong with the cuts. Obviously, he would contradict that point. Every dollar of the cuts in the Affordable Care Act have been embraced, supported and voted for by the Republican majority for which you deserve credit.

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