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Ms. PELOSI. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Madam Speaker, more than 2 years ago, we put forth a vision for America's middle class to ensure health care would be not a privilege for a few but a right for all Americans.
Today and yesterday--for the past 2 days--as they've done more than 30 times in this Congress, the Republicans are set to take away that right. Over the past 2 days, we have heard the talking points of the health insurance industry. They're trying to drown out the facts, and the facts are these:
What is the takeaway from this debate? The takeaway is the protections House Republicans are voting to take away from America's families:
Today, up to 17 million children have the right to health care coverage even if they have diabetes, asthma, leukemia, or any other preexisting medical condition. Put an ``X'' next to that. Republicans want to take away protections for children with preexisting conditions;
Today, all young adults have the right to get insurance on their parents' policies. Republicans want to take away that right from America's students and young people. Where we have that coverage for young adults, put an ``X'' next to that;
Today, 5.3 million seniors have saved $3.7 billion on their prescription drugs. Republicans want to take away prescription drug savings for seniors;
Today, small business owners have used tax credits to help them afford insurance already for 2 million additional people, and the bill is not fully in effect. Republicans want to take away the tax credits for businesses to help their entrepreneurship and job creation;
Today, nearly 13 million Americans are set to benefit from $1.1 billion in rebates from health insurance companies. Republicans want to take away those cost savings from America's families;
Today, American women have free coverage. They have a right to free coverage for lifesaving preventative care like mammograms. Starting in August, women will gain free access to a full package of preventative services. No longer will a woman be a preexisting medical condition, but Republicans want to take away those protections from women and all Americans.
Many across the country have heard our Republican colleagues claim that very few people are affected by the preexisting condition provision of the law. The fact is: The Republicans are wrong. The fact is--you be the judge--138 million Americans have preexisting medical conditions.
I ask our friends on the other side of the aisle: Do you know anybody with breast cancer? with prostate cancer? with asthma? with diabetes? people with disabilities? The list goes on and on. With this bill that you have on the floor today, you will take away their rights to affordable coverage.
That is why the American Cancer Society opposes this repeal effort and their ``13 million cancer patients and survivors who need access to adequate and affordable coverage.'' That's why they oppose this repeal effort, the American Cancer Society.
Do any of you know the millions of Americans living with a disability? With this bill, you take away their rights to quality, affordable care.
That's why Easter Seals wrote:
Millions of parents of children with disabilities are breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing their children will not be dropped from their insurance.
Do you know any parents of children with diabetes or asthma or childhood leukemia? Do you know any? With this bill, you will take away the rights of these children to affordable care throughout their lives.
That's why the American Diabetes Association, on behalf of the nearly 26 million Americans with diabetes, urged us to oppose this bill in order to ``protect people with diabetes who for too long have been discriminated against because of their disease.''
My Republican colleagues are taking away patient protections for millions of Americans, protections you as Members of Congress already enjoy. I think that that's an undermining of fundamental fairness. If you repeal this bill, it means you keep your Federal health insurance benefits while you take these patient protections away from the American people. What a Valentine to the health insurance industry.
When I think of people protected by this law, I always remember the powerful testimonial at a hearing last year from Stacie Ritter, whose twin daughters, Hannah and Madeleine, are both cancer survivors. They're 4 years old, and both were diagnosed with leukemia. Hannah and Madeleine faced stem cell transplants, chemotherapy, and total body irradiation. Yet, over time, Stacie said, ``We ended up bankrupt even with full insurance coverage.''
Today, Hannah and Madeleine are happy, healthy 13-year-olds. According to Stacie:
My children now have protections from insurance discrimination based on their preexisting cancer condition. They will never have to fear the rescission of their insurance policy if they get sick. They can look forward to lower health insurance costs and preventative care.
We passed the Affordable Care Act for people like Stacie, Hannah, and Madeleine, and we passed it for some of the people we heard from today at an earlier meeting. I urge my colleagues to think about them and to think about Stacie and her children when they cast a vote to take away their rights and protections.
Here is what the Affordable Care Act is about:
It's about strengthening the middle class, honoring the entrepreneurial spirit of our country, putting medical decisions in the hands of patients and their doctors. This is about innovation, prevention, wellness. It's about the good health of America as well as good health care for America. It's about restoring and reigniting the American Dream and living up to the vows of our Founders of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's about a healthier life, the liberty and freedom to pursue happiness as defined by your own passions and your own talents and your own skills and your own aspirations. If you want to start a business, if you want to be self-employed, if you want to change jobs, you are not job-locked because your decision about your job, your career, and your life has to be predicated by your health insurance company.
That's what this freedom is in this 1 week from the Fourth of July that we celebrate with this bill.
Now, to make the American Dream a reality for all, Republicans must stop this effort to take away patient protections from Americans.
Let's review again what the GOP is taking away from Americans. This is the takeaway from this debate:
Take away, the Republicans say, protections from children with preexisting conditions; take away prescription drug savings for seniors; take away coverage for young adults; take away preventative health services for women; take away the no lifetime limits, which are so important to so many families in our country.
We must work together on America's top priorities--job creation and economic growth. This bill creates 4 million jobs. It reduces the deficit. It enables our society to have the vitality of everyone rising to their aspirations without being job-locked, as I said.
The American people want us to create jobs. That's what we should be using this time on the floor for, not on this useless bill to nowhere--bill to nowhere--that does serious damage to the health and economic well-being of America's families.
I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this bill. Let us move forward together to strengthen the economy and to strengthen the great middle class, which is the backbone of our democracy.
Hello, My name is Aracely Rodriguez. I am from San Diego, CA and I work everyday to ensure that Latina women have access to comprehensive affordable health services from a trusted provider.
I have the opportunity to experience first hand what a difference the Affordable Care Act will be for women, particularly women of color. It is hard for me to believe that anyone would want to take away there critical new benefits for women all over this country.
We know the Affordable Care Act will make insurance more affordable and provide more choices to women and their families. As a result of the Affordable Care Act 14 million women will be newly insured.
Today, about 39 percent of Latinas are uninsured--that is more than women of any other racial or ethnic group.
The Affordable Care Act will ensure that women have access to preventative health services such as mammograms and life saving cancer screenings--and in August, many women will have access to even more preventive health services such as well-women visits and birth control without co-pays or deductibles.
Access to birth control is a critical issue to many Latinas and their families. Over 50 percent of all Latinas have experienced a time in their lives when the cost of prescription birth control made it difficult for them to consistently use it.
The Affordable Care Act will end gender discrimination once and for all--so that women are not charged more for insurance than men.
This is what health reform means to women's health in our communities. ``Being a woman is not a pre-existing condition.''
My name is Jamal Lee, I'm a native of Baltimore, MD. I own Breasia Studios, LLC, a digital recording studio and an audio, lighting, and video production company in Laurel, Maryland and I'm a member of Small Business Majority's network council.
Until recently, I hadn't had health insurance since I was 21, when my mother had to drop me from her insurance plan. Since I started my business in 2005 I hadn't been able to afford insurance for myself, let alone my employees. I did the best I could to counteract the lack of health insurance by giving my employees safety training courses and assisting with the heavy lifting. I couldn't risk losing an employee to an on-the-job injury. But I finally was able to purchase insurance through a state subsidy program and when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, I had another windfall--the small business tax credits. The tax credits, along with the state subsidy program, mean I can finally afford health insurance for myself and everyone else in the Breasia family. Knowing we're covered if something happens has an enormous impact on morale and my employees' physical and emotional well-being.
Thanks to the tax credits in the healthcare law, I may even be able to grow my business. And because I'm finally able to offer benefits, my business has become much more competitive when I look to hire. Repealing the law or defunding provisions like the tax credits would be a huge blow to my business.
My name is Bill Cea and I am a retired public school teacher from Boca Raton, Florida. I am here today on behalf of the Alliance for Retired Americans.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I am one of 16 million seniors on Medicare who has been able to get a free wellness visit or preventive service. These are free--no co-pays, no deductible.
For me, it was an opportunity to go to my doctor's office for a thorough evaluation of my health, review the medicines I take, and discuss any questions and concerns I had.
Not only is this good for your health, but it is also good public policy. Medicare costs will be much lower if more seniors are able to stay healthy and identify problems before they become serious and costly.
I know many seniors in Florida who are in the Medicare coverage gap known as the ``donut hole.'' Under this new law, these seniors are now paying $600 less per year for their prescriptions. The law will keep closing more and more of the ``donut hole'' until it completely goes away.
The bottom line is this: the Affordable Care Act is good for seniors. It helps us live longer, better lives. It helps us be able to see a doctor and fill a prescription.
These new Medicare benefits are making a big difference in seniors' lives. Congress must not take them away. Please vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act.
My name is Emily Schlichting. I'm a 22-year-old auto-immune disease patient from Omaha, NE. My life has drastically changed for the better thanks to the Affordable Care Act, but I have no guarantee that those changes will last. I would like to share with you just how the repeal of health care reform would affect my life.
The summer before my senior year of high school, when I was 17, I began experiencing a lot of odd symptoms, and none of my doctors could figure out what was causing them. My symptoms started as open ulcers that would get painfully and dangerously infected, and over the next two years intensified to include high-grade fevers, mysterious raised lumps on my legs, and swollen joints. After two years of visiting multiple specialists, receiving MRI's and CAT scans, which was topped off by a week-long stay in the hospital during my first semester of college, I was finally diagnosed with Behcet's Disease, a rare auto-immune condition.
When your health care is tied directly to your employment, your career opportunities become a lot more limited than you'd imagine. Suddenly, taking a few years off to work at a non-profit before graduate or law school was not an option because I would have dropped off my parents' insurance plan. Beyond that, I had to be extremely careful not to ever drop off an insurance plan because I have a pre-existing condition, which meant if I dropped off I would likely not be able to get back on insurance. Paying for my own health care out of pocket would bankrupt me. I regularly see two rheumatologists, an ophthalmologist, a dermatologist, an internist and other specialists for my condition. And that's when things are going well.
But, thankfully, with the passage of the Patient's Coverage and Affordable Care Act my disease no longer gets to dictate my life. The dependent coverage clause has been a godsend for me; it allows me to stay on my parent's insurance until I'm 26; it gives me that buffer time to figure out what career I want to pursue, and work for a couple years to gain experience and valuable job skills instead of rushing into an expensive graduate program just so I can stay on an insurance plan. Allowing young people to stay on their parent's insurance gives us new freedom to work toward our goals without going uncovered. But even more important than that is the fact that the Patient's Bill of Rights makes it so that I can't be denied insurance simply because I have a disease I can't control. And that ..... it's changed my life in so many ways. I can't put into words how scary the idea of being sick and bankrupt at 25 is, so you'll have to trust me on this one. It's terrifying.
I can tell you over and over how much health reform has positively impacted my life, but I'm not the only young American that has been positively impacted by this legislation. I'm one example of millions and millions of young Americans who have been helped by this bill, whether through the Dependent Care clause or the Patient's Bill of Rights or the combination of the two, like me. Young people are the future of this country and we are the most affected by reform--we're the generation that is the most uninsured. We need the Affordable Care Act because it is literally an investment in the future of this country.
Good afternoon. My name is Christine Haight Farley and I'm the proud mother of two wonderful boys with bright futures. Unfortunately, one of my sons has Cystic Fibrosis. For him, the Affordable Care Act is the key to that bright future.
Cystic Fibrosis, or CF, is a genetic disorder that has no cure at this time and few effective treatments. Among the symptoms are persistent lung infections and breathing and digestive difficulties.
Because only 30,000 people in the U.S. have CF, treatment for it tends to be extremely expensive. The average CF patient spends $64,000 annually on health care, which is 15 times more than the average American. My son has to take 30 pills, 2 inhalers, and 3 nebulizers every day. We have a machine in our home that he has to use twice daily to shake the mucus from his lungs to prevent bacterial infections and clear his airways. At night, he uses a feeding tube while he sleeps in order to ensure that he gets the calories he needs, because CF patients don't properly digest food. Even with this level of care, he is admitted to the hospital every year for a week because of a bacterial infection that requires heavy antibiotics administered through an IV. You can imagine what all of this costs.
And yet, we consider ourselves extremely lucky. We have excellent health insurance that helps to cover the costs of the various therapies and treatments he needs. But we have always worried about what will happen when our son grows up and has to find his own health insurance. As you can imagine, our entire family was very happy when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. And we were ecstatic when the Court upheld the law. But it makes me furious when I hear opposition to the Affordable Care Act based on the ``principle'' of states' rights. For me, that principle is entirely outweighed by the principle that every child deserves a bright future no matter what disease they happen to be born with. Repealing this law would allow young people with life-threatening illnesses to be denied health insurance. I consider that unprincipled.
A survey conducted last year by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation revealed that 31% of CF patients skipped doses or took less than was prescribed due to cost concerns. It also revealed that 16% of CF patients have reached an annual limit on their health insurance coverage, and 3% have reached a lifetime limit.
I have heard about the challenges faced by young adults with CF in finding health insurance. Young adults with CF are often denied insurance coverage, and they face barriers in their career as they make work and life choices that are dictated by a limited set of health care options. That's not the future I want for my son.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, my son will be able to get the care and treatment he needs. He will be able to stay on our insurance until he's 26, and after that no insurance company will be able to deny him coverage because of his pre-existing condition. And we won't have to worry about lifetime limits on his coverage. Moreover, he won't have to base his decisions about a job or a career on health care coverage.
As a mom, there is nothing more valuable to me than my children's future. I thank Leader Pelosi, the Congress, and President Obama for giving that to my son and to the other five million American children with pre-existing conditions.
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