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Mr. PALLONE. I want to thank my colleague from Massachusetts, not only for having to deal with the ordeal in Rules last night but every day, but also for what he said about the lack of regular order when this Upton bill--this bill by the chairman, Mr. Upton--came to the Rules Committee.
Mr. Speaker, I am a member of the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee. I said in Rules last night--and I will say it again today--that we have had many hearings in the Health Subcommittee and that we have had hearings in the full Energy and Commerce Committee. Over the last 2 or 3 weeks, there was ample opportunity to have this bill proceed with regular order with a subcommittee hearing markup and with a full committee hearing markup. None of that was done. This bill just comes here to the floor directly from Rules, and it is a flawed bill. I want to stress that.
I really believe, Mr. Speaker, that this legislation is just another attempt by the GOP to undermine the Affordable Care Act. In fact, I will call this the 46th attempt at repeal. My GOP colleagues have zero interest in helping people gain and keep their health insurance. They have zero interest in fixing any problems that may be occurring with the rollout of the law. They simply want to demonize the President and his policies, as you have heard over and over again, and they will go to any length to do so. At the top of the list are their efforts to sabotage ObamaCare and to force its failure.
Yesterday, the President took some action to help Americans who want to renew their insurance policies if their insurance companies are willing to offer that option. Ultimately, though, I believe that these people will look at the quality plans available in the new Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace and like what they see because, in most cases, they will find that they are able to purchase better coverage at lower prices than their original policies so that, when they get sick or when they need care, their policies will actually provide it because most of these older policies simply do not provide adequate insurance.
As I said before, the Upton bill before us is not about giving people access to health care. It is about sabotaging ObamaCare. One of my colleagues on the Republican side said they want to have people keep their insurance. The President's initiative yesterday allows them to keep their insurance if they want to, but what the Upton bill does is allow anybody now--anybody, even if they didn't have the old insurance policies--to buy these new skeletal policies that don't provide adequate insurance.
So, if you take away the rhetoric of the Republicans, the Upton bill's practical effect would be to continue to allow insurers to exclude people from coverage based on preexisting conditions and to allow insurers to charge women twice as much as men for the same coverage. It would allow insurers to jack up premiums on a family if its child gets sick. It would allow insurers to set harsh annual caps on coverage. All of the discriminatory practices that the ACA and ObamaCare were designed to eliminate come back under the Upton bill. This bill would not require health insurers to allow individuals to keep their current health care plans because insurers can still do whatever they want. You can't force the insurers to offer the plans. It basically allows them to sell low-quality 2013 plans all through 2014. Nothing else.
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Mr. PALLONE. Thank you, Mr. Waxman.
Unfortunately, today's bill is a ruse. It claims to make things better, but all it does is to make things terribly worse. Republicans will hide behind a sound bite and nice-sounding title. But what this bill really does is to go back to the old, broken health insurance system.
This is just another attempt for the GOP to repeal the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. They have made it their mission to push the ACA to failure, and the only consequence is just that: seriously damaging the insurance provisions of the Affordable Care Act and the millions of Americans who are expected to benefit from the improved coverage and premium and cost-sharing subsidies available through the new health insurance marketplace.
The GOP claims the bill allows people to keep their health plans, but actually it allows old policies with fewer benefits and sometimes higher prices to be sold to new enrollees.
One of the major goals of the ACA was to improve the quality of health insurance policies sold on the private market. Beginning in 2014, health insurance plans can no longer deny coverage for adults with preexisting conditions or charge those individuals more for coverage. And there are a lot of other discriminatory practices that are eliminated by the ACA.
We need to be open to constructive changes to make this law work to the best of its ability, but that is not what the GOP is doing today. No one believes the Republicans care about ensuring that people have health insurance. If they did, then Republicans would not, for purely political reasons, refuse to expand Medicaid with those Republican Governors in the States where now 5 million hardworking Americans across 26 States will not have Medicaid expansion because of Republican politics.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the President took action to help Americans who want to renew their old insurance policies. Ultimately, though, I hope that those Americans who want to renew those old policies will look at the quality plans available in the new Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace and like what they see. In most cases, they will find they are able to purchase better coverage at a lower price than their original policies, so, when they get sick or need care, they will actually have it--not with these old policies that, for the most part, are not going to provide them with good health insurance.
I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill. This is just another repeal effort on the part of the Republicans. They are not serious about trying to provide insurance, and this will accomplish nothing for the American people.
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