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Public Statements

Health Care Cost Reduction Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KIND. I thank the ranking member on the Ways and Means Committee for yielding me this time.

Mr. Speaker, in the waning days of the work we were doing to get the Affordable Care Act in shape for consideration before the entire Congress, I wasn't an enthusiastic supporter of the medical device manufacturing tax as one of the pay-fors in order to pay for health care reform. I, however, agreed with the President wholeheartedly that health care reform had to be fully paid for. In fact, the idea was to pay for it, and then some, so that we had the ability to start reducing our budget deficits out into the future.

Because of the work that was done and because of the hard negotiations and the tradeoffs that were made, the Congressional Budget Office, in its analysis of the Affordable Care Act when it passed, said it would reduce the budget deficit by over $1.2 trillion over the next 20 years. Now, that is a significant achievement--that we are able to start reforming a health care system in desperate need of reform, pay for it at the same time, work to improve the quality of care and the access of care for 33 million uninsured Americans, but also start bending the cost curve in healthcare.

I was concerned about the medical device tax as an element of the pay-for, however, because of the vital role that the medical device industry has in our economy. They play an important role when it comes to job creation. They enjoy certain competitive advantages here in the United States market. I was concerned about the tax applying to the sales of the products as opposed to profits because of the impact it will have on smaller manufacturers, which operate on a much smaller margin.

That's why I support the legislation before us today, but I do so under the proviso and with the understanding that the pay-for that is being used right now is controversial on our side. I don't think it's the ideal pay-for. I don't believe that it's going to be the pay-for that the Senate would consider if it takes this measure up. It certainly won't be the pay-for that the President will feel comfortable signing into law. So there is going to be additional work that we're going to have to do together to try to find an acceptable bipartisan pay-for if we're going to repeal this tax on an important industry in our country.

I would also submit to my colleagues on the other side that there are many proposals under the Affordable Care Act that have enjoyed wide bipartisan support in the past, proposals that can help find savings in the healthcare system. They include the build-out of the health information technology system that our health care providers desperately need, which will not only improve the efficiency of care delivered and reduce medical errors, but will finally start collecting that crucial data so we know better what works and what doesn't work in the delivery of health care. There are delivery system reforms in the health care reform bill that are already proving effective and that lead us towards a system that is more integrated, that is more coordinated, that is patient-focused, thus producing a much better outcome of care but at a better price.

Ultimately, we have to continue working together to change the way we pay for health care in this country so that it's based on the value--or the quality or outcome of care that's given--and no longer on the volume of services and tests and things that are done regardless of the results. There has been wide bipartisan agreement in the past over these issues which are included in the Affordable Care Act, but you would never guess it by listening to the terms of the debate today.

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Mr. KIND. While I support the legislation and what it's trying to accomplish here, I still think, following today's debate, there is going to be a lot more work that we're going to have to do in dealing with the other side of the Capitol, with the Senate, as far as coming up with acceptable pay-fors, in its mind, and also in working with this administration.

So hopefully we can reduce this tax burden on an important industry. But we can do it in a more reasonable and commonsense fashion so we don't jeopardize the health care access of over 350,000 Americans, which may be adversely impacted with this ``true-up'' provision, that is being used today to pay for the repeal of this revenue measure.

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