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No Subsidies Without Verification Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman from New Jersey.

I rise today to ask an incredulous question of how many times do we have to say, ``No,'' and how many times do the American people have to say, ``Take your hands off my good Affordable Care Act'' that has allowed millions of Americans to have preventible care that is being poised to attack the scandalous high percentage of uninsured in the State of Texas, being the number one State with uninsured persons? How many times?

First of all, this bill is frivolous. The reason is because there is a construct in the Affordable Care Act to deal with all of the questions that they've asked. First of all, it will require that individuals will have to submit their projected annual household income. All income data submitted through the marketplace will then be checked against IRS data, Social Security data, current wage information. If there is inconsistency, the marketplace will require additional documentation. In addition, marketplaces will check employer coverage information from the applicant and their employer against data, OPM, and the SHOP Marketplaces, as well as other data sources.

It is absolutely absurd for this bill to place more responsibilities on an already sequestered government. If my colleagues want to do anything to provide any substance to what they're talking about, let's put a bill on the floor to end sequestration. There's no resources that would add to the inspector general's ability to do all that they said.

Let me add further insult to injury, and I want my constituents to listen closely. $67 million was given to navigators to provide the kind of oversight and construction that these individuals on this bill have suggested they need. What I find appalling and what I've not seen in my tenure in Congress is the number of Members on the Energy and Commerce Committee that have sent a letter to the 51 navigators governed by Health and Human Services to require them to send information.

I want my navigator that received a grant from HHS to refuse to do anything with that letter, and I'm going to ask the Secretary of HHS to reject this letter that has no authority in law. Again, it is trying to abuse and reject the idea of the Affordable Care Act.

This bill should go down, and don't answer the letter. This is a bad way to deal with health care in America.

Madam Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 2775, the so-called ``No Subsidies Without Verification Act.'' I oppose this unnecessary and dilatory legislation which imposes unnecessary and burdensome conditions on the ability of Americans to utilize the tax credits provided by the Affordable Care Act which will enable them to purchase affordable health insurance for themselves and their families.

This is the 41st attempt by House Republicans to repeal, delay, or undermine effective implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Even though the Affordable Care Act, which has been upheld by the Supreme Court and is here to stay, House Republicans refuse to abandon their quixotic quest to derail a law that will bring peace of mind to millions of Americans and reduce the deficit by $1 trillion.

Their latest attempt is the bill before us which prohibits any health insurance premium tax credits from being provided until the HHS Inspector General Office certifies there is a program in place that ``successfully and consistently verifies'' household income and coverage requirements for those applying for these credits.

This bill, H.R. 2775, is unnecessary because HHS already has a strong income verification system in place, as confirmed by CBO. The only purpose of this legislation is to hinder the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The impact of the enactment of this GOP bill would be an unconscionable delay in obtaining health insurance for more than 25.7 million Americans, 22.7 million of whom are members of working class families.

The new requirement imposed by the irresponsible bill before us would delay millions of our hard-working constituents from getting the premium tax credits they are clearly eligible for beginning on January 1, 2014.

Madam Speaker, Americans do not have to be told that justice delayed is justice denied!

Under current law, to receive the premium tax credits to make their health insurance affordable, individuals will have to submit their projected annual household income. All income data submitted through the Marketplaces will then be checked against IRS data, Social Security data, and current wage information. If there is an inconsistency, the Marketplaces will require additional documentation from applicants.

In addition, Marketplaces will check employer coverage information from the applicant and their employer against data from OPM and the SHOP Marketplaces as well as other data sources approved by HHS to verify eligibility for the tax credits. If applicant information and other data do not match, the Marketplaces will ask for further supporting documentation.

Further, all payments of premium tax credits are reconciled by IRS the following year. The income data submitted is reconciled against the actual wages and health coverage information on the individual's income tax return. If there is an inconsistency, the applicant pays back the excess, subject to statutory limit and there is 100 percent income verification and reconciliation on this back-end.

In sum, there are ample existing safeguards to ensure that premium tax credits are available only to those eligible to receive them.

Madam Speaker, after the sobering events of the last week, regarding war and peace, I would hope all my colleagues would take into consideration the importance of using our limited legislative time more wisely.

We should be addressing the need to eliminate sequestration, raising the debt ceiling and passing the jobs bill in order to repair infrastructure. But instead House Republicans continue to repeal, delay, or undermine the Affordable Care Act. Instead of wasting time on these time-consuming but futile efforts, our friends across the aisle should join with their Democratic colleagues to work together to create jobs and educational opportunities for our people.

Moreover, the Affordable Care Act is working and my constituents--and those of my colleagues--are benefiting from this landmark legislation.

Many of those most in need of the healthcare coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act live in the districts of many members on both sides of this argument. My home state of Texas leads the list of states with the highest percentages of uninsured residents. The states with the highest percentage of uninsured are:

1. Texas: 28.8%.

2. Louisiana: 24%.

3. Nevada: 23.3%.

4. California: 23.2%.

5. Florida: 22.8%.

6. Georgia: 22.5%.

7. Arkansas: 21.9%.

8. Mississippi: 21.7%.

9. Oklahoma: 21.4%.

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, which would benefit my state of Texas tremendously if the Governor can be persuaded to follow the example of his Republican counterparts and accept a deal of a lifetime.

I cannot understand the continued refusal by House Republicans to accept the Affordable Care Act, which is now the law of the land and is modeled after the plan put in place in Massachusetts by the nominee of their party in the last presidential election.

Instead of focusing on the issues that the American people want addressed, we are having the same discussion to repeal the Affordable Care Act in efforts of my colleagues to repeal, obstruct and undermine this law.

What is even more frustrating is that while there is so much energy in trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, there has been no plan or suggestions posed on how to replace it.

Additionally, I oppose this misguided legislation because the Affordable Care Act is working for America and for my constituents in the 18th Congressional District of Texas. Let me count the ways:

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 8o 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.

The Affordable Care Act has helped my constituents in the 18th Congressional District of Texas tremendously. Because of the Affordable Care Act:

11,400 young adults in the district now have health insurance through their parents' plan;

Over 4,100 seniors in the district received prescription drug discounts worth $5.4 million, an average discount of $600 per person in 2011, $650 in 2012, and $1,040 thus far in 2013;

71,000 seniors in the district are now eligible for Medicare preventive services without paying any co-pays, coinsurance, or deductible;

121,000 individuals in the district--including 23,000 children and 50,000 women--now have health insurance that covers preventive services without any co-pays, coinsurance, or deductible;

113,000 individuals in the district are saving money due to ACA provisions that prevent insurance companies from spending more than 20 percent of their premiums on profits and administrative overhead. Because of these protections;

Over 31,100 consumers in the district received approximately $4.4 million in insurance company rebates in 2012 and 2011--an average rebate of $95 per family in 2012 and $187 per family in 2011;

Up to 46,000 children in the district with preexisting health conditions can no longer be denied coverage by health insurers;

153,000 individuals in the district now have insurance that cannot place lifetime limits on their coverage and will not face annual limits on coverage starting in 2014;

Up to 193,000 individuals in the district who lack health insurance will have access to quality, affordable coverage without fear of discrimination or higher rates because of a preexisting health condition; and

The 17,000 individuals who currently purchase private health insurance on the individual or small group market will have access to more secure, higher quality coverage and many will be eligible for financial assistance.

However, the list of benefits from the Affordable Care Act is not complete. In 2014, when the Affordable Care Act's final provisions will become effective, insurance companies will be banned from: discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing 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 ensure that health care consumers get the care that they need from the medical professionals they trust most at a price they can afford.

This Congress has work that needs to be done, and it is work that should be taken up to restore workers, their families, and communities to sound economic health. We do not have time time for partisan political games that do not advance the interests of the American people.

With less than 20 days before enrollment in the Marketplaces begins, the last thing we should be doing is considering legislation that serves no purpose other than to delay affordable health care coverage to millions of Americans who need and deserve the security and peace of mind such coverage brings.

I urge my Colleagues to put partisan politics aside and join me in voting no on the passage of this bill.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

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