Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of the measure before us today. While the Supreme Court may have ruled Obamacare constitutional on the basis that it is a tax, that doesn't make it good policy. We owe it to the American people to repeal this middle-class tax hike and instead enact real reform that will rely on reasonable and proven market-driven solutions that do not trample on individual rights.
As we craft our replacement to Obamacare, however, we must protect one positive provision that was enacted as part of the law: the Medicaid funding included beginning addressing the longstanding disparity for Puerto Rico and the other U.S. territories compared to the states. This funding represented a shared commitment between the federal and territorial governments to ensure the fiscal solvency of the territories' Medicaid programs. Although this additional funding was added to Obamacare legislation, it represents the culmination of years of discussion between the federal government and the territories, and is entirely separate from the rest of the law. If this funding is not replaced, Puerto Rico will once again be forced to cover 80 percent of the cost of its Medicaid program--a burden that would be unfathomable and fiscally unsustainable if placed on the states. If hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have willingly served in the U.S. military with honor, wearing the U.S. flag proudly on their uniform, then surely we can treat the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico fairly in Medicaid.
When Puerto Rico Governor Fortuño took office in 2009, he inherited a $3.3 billion budget deficit. A true fiscal conservative, he made the difficult choices necessary to reduce this deficit by 90 percent in FY2013. Failure to replace this Medicaid funding would not only have dire consequences for the neediest residents of Puerto Rico, but would also jeopardize the Island's economic recovery and marginalize the tough choices and sacrifices made by Governor Fortuño and the 3.7 million U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico over the past 3 1/2 years. With this in mind, I would like to express my commitment to work with my colleagues to ensure we restore this vital funding.