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Public Statements

Repeal of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Ms. JACKSON LEE. I thank the gentleman for his time.

Madam Speaker, I rise today in opposition to the Patients' Rights Repeal Act.

I simply want to say thanks. My good friend Mr. Crowley indicated that there is no plan on the other side, but look at the list that I can give, and let me just emphasize Texas:

For the gentleman from the business community, 360,000 small businesses are using the health care tax credit for their workers that is provided by the health insurance under the Affordable Care Act;

There are 17 million children with preexisting conditions in the country who no longer can be denied coverage by insurers;

Then, of course, what we are finding out is those who treat those with cancer are suffering because there are cuts in Medicare and those cuts in Medicare are coming because of my friends on the other side. The Affordable Care Act will provide an umbrella for those who are in need;

Then we find out that Texas, itself, has 3.4 million women and over 1.8 million seniors and people with disabilities who are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act.

More importantly, we have articles that suggest that the poverty in Texas is going up and that Texas has the highest uninsured people in the Nation. How can people from Texas vote against this? How can they vote against this?

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Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 45, the 37th attempt by House Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This bill is as bad as the previous 36 and has no chance of becoming law. And that is a good thing because the Affordable Care Act has and continues to be a life saver for millions of Americans.

The leadership of this Congress may want to give new members of Congress the opportunity to tell the people back home that they voted to repeal ``Obamacare.'' Unfortunately, they are also causing anxiety in people who know that without the Affordable Care Act they have no other option for healthcare.

I believe it is important to remind new members of this body and those who are closely watching this debate that the Affordable Care Act is law. People living in each of the Congressional Districts represented in this body are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act.

Many of those most in need of the healthcare coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act live in the Districts of many of the new members of Congress. Texas, my own state, leads the list of states with the highest percentages of uninsured residents.

Those states with the highest percentage of uninsured are:

Texas with 28.8 percent; Louisiana with 24 percent; Nevada with 23.3 percent; California with 23.2 percent; Florida with 22.8 percent; Georgia with 22.5 percent; Arkansas with 21.9 percent; Mississippi with 21.7 percent, and Oklahoma with 21.4 percent.

The highest concentration of the uninsured is the poor. The Affordable Care Act provides at no or nearly no cost to states an option to enroll those living in or near poverty into their Medicaid program.

This option would help states in three ways--reduce the cost to states for those insured through Medicaid, reduce the numbers of poor persons without healthcare insurance and address the problem associated with the high cost of persons who arrive at local emergency rooms in need of very expensive critical care. Health care costs that result from emergency room ad hoc primary healthcare are unpaid medical expenses passed on to everyone.

The idea of everyone paying something towards their healthcare was a Republican idea that was put into practice in the State of Massachusetts by then Governor Mitt Romney six years ago. Today, Massachusetts has the lowest percentage of uninsured residents' and a model for where every state could be in six years or less.

Just taking advantage of the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid option would help reduce the numbers of uninsured persons living in the United States.

Medicaid would provide the much needed support to our nation's most vulnerable by providing early diagnosis and treatment for chronic conditions. In many cases conditions could be caught prior to the onset of disease and allow medical professionals the opportunity to work with patients to avoid the major drivers of health care cost: diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, which can lead to heart and arterial disease as well as kidney disease.

Many watching today's debate may wonder why this is an issue--money from the federal government that would reduce their state tax burden associated with Medicaid. The issue is governors who reject extending Medicaid coverage to their state's poor. The Governors in the States of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maine, Wisconsin, Iowa, Idaho, and South Dakota need to hear from residents who want healthcare cost to be lower and more people covered.

As a resident of Texas and a Member of Congress representing a Congressional District in the state, I sent a letter to Governor Rick Perry in response to his letter of March 14, 2013, in which he re-affirmed his opposition to expanding the Medicaid program in Texas.

For all of the pro-business talk by the Governor over the last few months--his position on this issue will lead to higher local and state sales taxes; unduly burden local governments, and needlessly place the health and safety of millions of Texas children and adults at risk.

The infusion of federal funds associated with the state accessing the Affordable Care Act Medicaid option would increase economic out of Texas by $67.9 billion.

A May 13, 2013, editorial in the Houston Chronicle titled ``Medicaid costs driven by poverty,'' outlined why the Congress should be focused on ending the sequester and creating jobs if we are serious about reducing taxpayer dollars going to Medicaid.

Poverty is the reason for higher Medicaid costs--if we work to reduce poverty then Medicaid costs would decline.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, Americans are already seeing lower costs, better coverage, and patient protections that Republicans want to repeal:

13 million Americans benefited from $1.1 billion in rebates sent to them from their health insurance companies last year.

105 million Americans have access to free preventive services, including 71 million Americans in private plans and 34 million seniors on Medicare.

Millions of women began receiving free coverage for comprehensive women's preventive services in August 2012.

100 million Americans no longer have a life-time limit on healthcare coverage.

Nearly 17 million children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage by insurers.

6.6 million young adults up to age 26 have health insurance through their parents' plan, half of whom would be uninsured without this coverage.

6.3 million Seniors in the `donut hole' have already saved $6.1 billion on their prescription drugs.

3.2 million Seniors have access to free annual wellness visits under Medicare, and

360,000 small employers have already taken advantage of the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit to provide health insurance to 2 million workers.

Because of the Affordable Care Act 3.8 million people in Texas--including 2.2 million seniors on Medicare now receive preventative care services. Over 7 million Texans no longer have to fear lifetime limits on their healthcare insurance. Texas parents of 300,731 young adults can sleep easier at night knowing that their children can remain on their health insurance until age 26.

The protection provided by this law is a guarantee to 5 million Texas residents that their insurance companies will spend 80 percent of their premium dollars on healthcare, or customers will get a rebate from their insurance company.

In my State, there are 4,029 people who had no insurance because of pre-existing conditions, but today the Affordable Care Act has provided them with access to coverage. The Affordable Care Act means that many Texans are free of worry about having access to healthcare insurance.

However, the list of benefits from the Affordable Care Act is not completed. In 2014, the Affordable Care Act's final provisions will become available to our citizens. Insurance companies will be banned from:

Discriminating against anyone with a preexisting condition;

Charging higher rates based on gender or health status;

Enforcing lifetime dollar limits; and

Enforcing annual dollar limits on health benefits.

In 2014, access to affordable healthcare for the self-employed or those who decide to purchase their own coverage will be easier because of Affordable Insurance Exchanges. There will be a one stop marketplace where consumers can do what Federal employees have done for decades--purchase insurance at reasonable rates from an insurer of their choice. This will assure that health care consumers can get the care that they need from the medical professionals they trust.

Another reason why I oppose this bill--I offered six amendments, but none of them were accepted by the Rules Committee. I will explain what my amendments would have done to improve this bill.

Jackson Lee Amendment Number 1 would have removed all of the bill text following the enacting clause of the legislation, which would have ended this exercise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This legislation is so bad it cannot be salvaged and the United States would be better off without it.

Jackson Lee Amendment Number 2 would have ensured full Medicare reimbursement to all hospitals including physician-owned hospitals with at least 100 beds, provided they could produce reliable records to document their claims for reimbursement.

Jackson Lee Amendment Number 3 would have authorized additional funding to establishFederally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). These centers are the last line of defense provided in the bill to make sure those living on the margins of society--the poorest of the poor had access to reliable healthcare. FQHC programs would be based in clinics, community-based health care centers and pro-active outreach programs that target the homeless or marginally housed with information on how to get access to good healthcare.

Jackson Lee Amendment Number 4 would have expanded state use of the Medicaid option of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care law when the uninsured rate of qualifying residents of a state exceeds 20 percent. States wishing to opt-out of Medicaid would have the option of submitting a plan to reduce the rate of uninsured to 20 percent or less to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. This amendment would have benefited Texas enormously since it leads the nation in uninsured residents at 28.8 percent. In fact Texas has held this number 1 ranking, of the State with the highest number of uninsured residents, for the last five consecutive years.

Jackson Lee Amendment Number 5 would have established a program to conduct studies of minority health disparities. The amendment directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to submit an annual report of findings regarding minority health disparities and make recommendations on how disparities may be reduced.

Jackson Lee Amendment Number 6 expressed the Sense of the Congress that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is law in the United States of America. The amendment enumerated each step that made it the law including a decision by the United States Supreme Court. The amendment then directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to report to Congress on the impact of the law on those it is intended to help. The amendment would have not allowed this Congress to revisit repeal until it had research on the impact of the law to guide its further deliberation of repeal.

This Congress has work that needs to be done, and it has work that should be taken up to restore workers, their families and communities to sound economic health.

I urge my Colleagues to join me in voting no on the passage of this bill.

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