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Public Statements

Exchange Information Disclosure Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I am afraid the bill before the House today, H.R. 3362, the Exchange Information Disclosure Act, is simply an effort by Republicans to continue to impede the efforts of the administration to implement the Affordable Care Act.

Transparency and enrollment information is important for Members of this body to receive. But this bill's requirements on the Secretary go way above and beyond what I think is necessary and valuable information. This is just an attempt to pile so many requirements on the administration that they are taking away from the true job of enrolling people in the law.

Enrollment numbers and visitors to the site are important pieces of information, and we certainly all know that, but this bill is simply unnecessary. There is already extensive disclosure of data on health insurance enrollments being provided. The administration releases enrollment data monthly, just like they do with Medicare and the children's health insurance program and other Federal programs. The monthly HHS enrollment reports are excellent, detailed reports. In fact, the newest HHS monthly enrollment report, which was issued this Monday, which covers enrollment through December, has even more extensive data than the two earlier monthly reports.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to providing data on total enrollments nationally
and in the States, the latest report includes data both for the Nation and the States on, first, greater breakdown of those who have selected marketplace plans; second, age breakdown--I stress, age breakdown--of those who have selected marketplace plans; third, financial assistance status of those who have selected marketplace plans; and, lastly, a breakdown of the coverage level--or metal level--of the plans people have selected.

So these numbers show that there is a very strong demand for the quality, affordable coverage options now available to Americans because of the Affordable Care Act. More than 6 million Americans have now either signed up for a private health insurance plan or for Medicaid, including the nearly 2.2 million who signed up for private insurance through the marketplace. Nearly 1.8 million of these consumers signed up for private plans in December, and that is nearly five times as many people as signed up in October and November combined.

Frankly, Mr. Speaker, I am encouraged and excited by these numbers. Americans aren't going to the Web site because they are forced to, like the Republicans claim. They are going to the Web site because they want and need access to health insurance. This should be no surprise. Thirty percent--nearly one in three--of people who have enrolled in a marketplace plan are younger than age 35; 24 percent are between 18 and 34 years old; and there was a more than eightfold increase in December enrollments in the Federal marketplace. In addition, more than 3 million young adults have gained coverage because the Affordable Care Act allows them to stay on their parents' plan until they turn 26. So we are getting more of the younger people as well.

Meanwhile, healthcare.gov and State Web sites have received more than 53 million visits, and State and Federal call centers have received more than 11 million calls.

The administration has committed to release this information monthly, the way they have done with every other Federal program to date. So I am sorry to say that I simply do not believe this is a serious effort in any sense of the word by Republicans. This bill is nothing but a weak effort to smear the law.

I urge Members to oppose the bill. There are only so many resources out there. Why would we want HHS to have to provide this excessive information? I would rather they spent their time trying to enroll people, doing more outreach, and encouraging people to sign up so that they actually have health insurance.

So again, Mr. Speaker, I urge Members to oppose this legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, again, this GOP bill is designed to harass the Department, preventing it from doing its job. It is an unworkable, unnecessary bill that places onerous, unrealistic, and costly reporting requirements on HHS, with no benefit to the general public.

I heard my colleagues say over and over again, Oh, nobody is going to enroll. Now people are enrolling, and they say they want to know whether they paid or not.

Where does it end? Why don't you spend your time trying to get people to enroll, trying to give people information and do more outreach so people actually are able to get health insurance? That is what we are trying to do with the Affordable Care Act--make people who don't have insurance get insurance, make people who do have it, have it more affordable and have a better benefit package.

All these things are wonderful. This is what people want. That is why so many people are, in fact, signing up. And I just cannot help but think that this is nothing but another effort to make it more burdensome, to scare people to make it less likely that people actually enroll.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to mention that the administration opposed the bill. The administration said that they oppose the passage because it would require unfunded, unprecedented, and unnecessary reporting requirements that exceed those of other public and private programs.

I urge a ``no'' vote, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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