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Mr. BARTON. Mr. Speaker, for the last hour, the minority in the House, the Democrat Party, has had the right to speak to the American people in their leadership Special Hour. I think the gentleman from Oregon and the gentleman from California did a good job of presenting the side of the story as they viewed it.
Having said that, Mr. Speaker, the late Paul Harvey had a radio program for many, many years that many of us listened to, and in that radio program he would tell us ``The Rest of the Story.''
Well, Mr. Speaker, for the next hour, those of us on the majority side, the Republican side--most of us from Texas, although we're going to have some friends from Michigan and perhaps from Florida, too--are going to tell you the other side of the story, the rest of the story. And let's start by discussing this continuing mantra from the minority side that we ought to just bring up the clean continuing resolution, or CR, from the other body, the Senate, and life would be perfect.
Well, Mr. Speaker, there's one tiny, small problem with that. And that is, Mr. Speaker, that that continuing resolution funds the discretionary part of something that is legally called the Affordable Care Act, but most people in the United States are now calling it ObamaCare.
Mr. Speaker, ObamaCare is a huge new entitlement. It's not just another Federal program. It changes, fundamentally, the way we practice medicine in the United States of America. It changes, fundamentally, the rights of Americans.
Mr. Speaker, ObamaCare mandates--forces--every American to have health insurance, whether they want it or whether they need it. It's a huge new right taken away, a freedom. Heretofore, we've said that people had the right to choose whether they wanted health insurance or not. And now we're going to tell them, at the Federal level, they to have it. That is not a trivial right to take away from the American people.
Mr. Speaker, the Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare, mandates that every employer that has at least 50 employees must provide health insurance. Heretofore, health insurance had been considered a fringe benefit. Some employers provided it, some employers did not. Now, according to the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, you have to provide health insurance.
What that's done, Mr. Speaker, is caused many small businesses to reduce their workforce, to change their work hours. Many employees that were full-time, 40-hour employees, have become 20- or less than 30-hour part-time employees. Again, a huge change in the way Americans have conducted their business.
Mr. Speaker, there are many mandates in the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, that relate to how you practice medicine. Many health care practitioners have told me in my district that they're not going to practice. They're going to retire. They're not going to put up with all the mandates. They're not going to put up with all of the paperwork. Again, something that is fundamentally changing the United States of America.
Mr. Speaker, in the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, there are all kinds of mandates on what has to be included in insurance, how the insurance companies have to provide it, what premiums they can charge. Because of this, Mr. Speaker, many insurance companies have raised their premiums. Many insurance companies have changed their policies. Again, a fundamental change.
So, Mr. Speaker, when our friends in the minority on the other side say, Just bring up a clean CR and we'll vote for it, they don't point out that that clean CR includes funding for ObamaCare. It is, again, a fundamental change, Mr. Speaker. Most of us on the Republican side, the majority side, don't want that. We want the freedom to choose.
I would ask my friends on the minority side, if ObamaCare is so great, why does it have to be mandatory? Let's make it voluntary.
Republicans happen to support many of the things in it. We support coverage for preexisting conditions. We support allowing young adults to stay on their parents' life insurance until they reach the age of 26. We support the concept of the public exchanges. In the Republican alternative, when ObamaCare was passed, we had something called ``co-ops.'' Not exactly like these health exchanges, but certainly similar.
So, again, if this act is so good and so great and everybody loves it, let's make it voluntary. How about making it voluntary for a year and just let the people choose? If these health exchanges are great, people are going to flock to them. If all of these mandates are really worthwhile, make them voluntary based on free choice and the market, and most of those will be accepted and implemented. So that might be an alternative at some point in time to consider. Take all the mandates away, leave the structure of the law, and let the American people choose whether they wish to participate.
Mr. Speaker, there is another side to this story. In the next 50 or 55 minutes, the Texas delegation on the Republican side, with some help from friends in other States, are going to tell you the other side of the story.
With that, I would like to yield to Congressman Weber from Friendswood, Texas.
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Mr. BARTON. Thank you, Congressman Weber.
Before I yield to my friend from far north Texas, Mr. Benishek, of the First District of Michigan, I want to read into the Record a comment that I received on my Facebook page. Now, most of these comments are from Texans, some of them are not. I'm not sure of the location of this gentleman, Mr. Dave Guss, Jr. This is a Facebook page comment received yesterday or this morning:
Just got a letter from my provider that my policy will end and I need to purchase a new one. When I called and asked why, I was told that my current policy does not meet the required coverage for ObamaCare because it has no prenatal coverage. I am a male. The new policy will cost me $500 a month, the old one I had was $200 a month.
We have a number of these stories, Mr. Speaker, that I will be putting into the Record as this Special Order continues. But now I would like to yield to the gentleman from the First District of Michigan (Mr. Benishek).
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Mr. BARTON. I thank the gentleman from Florida.
Mr. Speaker, I want to read a couple of more comments from my Facebook page that have come in in the last days.
This is from a gentleman named Richard Lay:
Since ObamaCare my insurance rates have gone through the roof. Every teacher I know has seen their monthly insurance rates increase by more than $200 to $300 per month. One teacher's went up by $400.
Mr. Anthony Rhodes from Arlington, Texas writes:
My rates have increased over 15 percent a year for the last 3 years. Last year and 3 years ago, my deductibles also went up 20 and 50 percent respectively. There has been nothing affordable about my health care for the last 3 years. I have less coverage and it costs me more, and even if I wanted to cancel it, I am better off paying the high prices because I get hit with a penalty tax if I cancel. I get fighting mad just thinking about the mess of legislation that was passed so that we could ``find out what's in it.''
With that, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from the 11th District of Texas, Mr. Mike Conaway, from Midland, Texas.
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Mr. BARTON. I thank the gentleman.
Before I yield to the Congressman from the Fourth District of Texas (Mr. Hall), let me read a few more comments into the Record from my Facebook page.
This is from Kevin Jones:
It hasn't hurt me yet, but it will. I don't have medical insurance; don't want medical insurance; don't need medical insurance. I pay my own way. Because I am self-pay, I am able to negotiate some nice discounts on my medical bills. ObamaCare will just be another tax on me.
This is from a lady named Theresa Stone:
I had a job that I did well in, but because I was expensive and getting old--I'm turning 54 in January--to save money, I was let go in February for absolutely bogus reasons. I am collecting unemployment, but that ends in January. I lost my insurance when I lost my job. I can't afford my bills--house, food and insurance--so I am uncovered. I will never sign up for ObamaCare--ever.
With that, I yield to the gentleman from Rockwall, Texas, the Fourth District of Texas, Mr. Ralph Hall, a decorated World War II veteran and, in my opinion, the absolutely nicest man in this Congress.
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Mr. BARTON. I thank the gentleman from the Fourth District.
I would point out to the Speaker that, yesterday, Congressman Hall was one of the Texas Congressmen who went to the World War II Memorial to make sure that our veterans on their honor flight were allowed in to see it.
I want to read one more email into the Record before I yield to the gentleman from Flower Mound, Texas, Dr. Burgess. This has come in as we've been doing this Special Order, Mr. Speaker.
Katie Hoffman of Minneapolis, Minnesota, says:
Hi, Joe. Keep up the good battle today. I am tuned in to C-SPAN with a close eye. I received notice last week under the Affordable Health Care Act that my insurance will be doubling almost from $113 a month to $207 a month. I am a 35, nonsmoking, healthy female. Who am I paying for? I've had enough. I'm working hard to cover the non-working society--frustrated. Keep up the fight.
Then one more from a gentleman named Tim Ruschi:
Dear Representative Barton, I just want to express my support for your efforts. I am watching you right now on C-SPAN. My wife and I received a certified letter recently from our insurance provider, Cigna, informing us that our health insurance plan is being dissolved, effective January 1, 2014. I believe the President knew he was lying when he boldly proclaimed many times that, if people liked their insurance coverage, they could keep it--period. He knew or should have known full well that the Affordable Care Act would cause many insurance plans to shut down, and now this has become the sad reality. I cannot trust anything the President or this administration says anymore.
With that, I yield to the gentleman from Flower Mound, Texas, in Denton County, Texas, Dr. Michael Burgess.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Members are reminded to refrain from engaging in personalities towards the President.
Mr. BARTON. If I may let the Speaker know, this was an email sent to me from an American citizen. I was just reading something an American citizen wrote. These are not my remarks.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Members are reminded to refrain from engaging in personalities towards the President, including by reading into debate matter that would be improper if spoken in the Member's own words.
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Mr. BARTON. Mr. Speaker, before I yield to Mr. Stockman, I want to apologize to the House for reading into the Record comments from citizens of the United States exercising their First Amendment rights. One of those citizens made a disparaging remark about the President of the United States, and we understand that Members, ourselves, cannot personalize these issues. Some of our citizens that are commenting don't understand the rules, but I do, and I want to apologize to the House because I do understand the rules.
I now yield to Congressman Stockman.
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Mr. BARTON. Mr. Speaker, to my friends in the body, this is a serious issue. ObamaCare, or the Affordable Care Act, as I said at the start, is a huge new entitlement. At a minimum, we would have a real debate about it. As has been pointed out, it barely passed the House on a partisan vote. No Republicans voted for it, and some Democrats, I think, voted against it. I think it passed by one or two votes. It passed the Senate only because they were able to get around the 60-vote requirement to end debate. It is the law of the land, but it was passed with all Democratic votes and no Republican votes.
Before it is fully implemented, I think it is worthy of a debate and it is worthy of the type of situation that's going on now. As I said at the top of this Special Order, if the Affordable Care Act is such a great thing, let's make it voluntary for the next year and let the American people choose whether they want to implement
it as it is currently structured. If they don't, let's work together, hopefully on a bipartisan basis, Mr. Speaker, to change it.
No one wants the Federal Government to shut down. That's obvious. The Republicans in the House are bringing bills to the floor on a daily basis to try to open up as much of the Federal Government as is possible. Our friends on the Democrat side some days are with us on that and some days are not. They were with us today on paying furloughed Federal workers when they come back to work. Hopefully, next week, they will be with us on paying the veterans, opening the VA, the national parks, funding cancer research, and some of the things that earlier this week they were against.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.