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Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011: House of Representatives

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Chairman, I just find it incredible what I am hearing on the other side of the aisle here because we've gone through several weeks now where basically the rules have been changed so that the Budget Committee chairman basically does whatever he pleases and has the authority almost like equal to the rest of the House, the way the Republicans have given him this authority. It's sort of like a one-man dictatorship. So I'm not sure that I am particularly interested in his opinion on this one.

But beyond that--and I will follow up on my colleague from New Jersey--when you talk about substantive changes to the law, the whole purpose of this amendment is to basically gut the health care reform and make sure that it never takes place. And if it were to become law, if it were to be adopted, that is exactly what would happen. This has a major substantive impact.

And beyond that, what we're highlighting here is the fact that here we have the Republicans saying that they are trying to save money or cut spending when, in reality, what they are doing with this amendment is increasing the deficit and actually making it more difficult to create jobs.

I don't see how we could ever argue, frankly, that this amendment is in order. It clearly increases the deficit. It clearly increases the budget authority. It will kill the health care reform, and that's its purpose. So I would ask that the chairman rule that this is certainly out of order.


Mr. PALLONE. How many times are we going to hear about repealing the health care reform instead of having an initiative that actually creates jobs? I go out. The gentleman from Georgia said, Are you listening to your constituents? Yes, I listen to my constituents. They tell us we should address job creation and the economy and not constantly argue over and over again about repealing health care reform, which we know is going absolutely nowhere. So when I listen, that is what I hear: jobs, the economy, not this constant repetition of repeal.

Now, I have a lot of respect for the gentleman from Montana, I have to say, but he talks about completely stopping and defending implementation. Well, the reason that the Republicans are saying that they want to de-fund implementation is because this health care reform is already working. Insurers now can't drop someone's coverage when they get sick; seniors are saving money on prescription drugs; young adults to age 26 are getting back on their parents' insurance; and small businesses are receiving billions of dollars in tax credits to provide health care coverage. This is moving along. This is working. That is why they want to stop the implementation, is because they know it is working.

Now, the defunding amendments will end all these benefits, putting health insurance companies back in charge of America's health care. The only person who benefits from defunding and repeal are the special interest health insurance companies that want to charge more and continue their discriminatory practices.

The gentleman from Montana talked about the cost. Well, the fact of the matter is that if we pass these defunding amendments offered in the guise of budget austerity, they are actually one step closer towards repealing the largest deficit cutter passed in the last decade, and that is the Affordable Care Act.

Health care reform helps tremendously in reducing the deficit. It will save $230 billion over the next 10 years and over $1 trillion in the 10 years after that. If we defund health care reform, there will be no prohibition on discrimination against over 100 million Americans with preexisting conditions, no prohibition on insurance companies canceling your coverage when you get sick, no prohibition on lifetime caps and annual limits, no required coverage for young adults on their parents' policies, no assistance for seniors struggling to afford the cost of drugs in the doughnut hole, no free annual checkups in Medicare, and no tax credits for families and small businesses to pay for health insurance.

Repeal, I stress, is a boon for the insurance companies, but an enormous setback for American families. If we pass this amendment, the insurance companies can raise their rates without review or transparency, they can deny coverage to millions of Americans with preexisting conditions, and they can cut off coverage when someone becomes sick.

I urge all Members to vote ``no'' on these defunding amendments. Health care reform is working. I go back home and people are pleased with it because already in many cases they are able to get insurance they weren't able to get before.

I am tired of hearing this over and over again. Concentrate on jobs and the economy, not this charade.


Mr. PALLONE. Madam Chair, I would just like to point out, again, the gentlewoman's amendment is just like the others we've heard before. It is going to completely eliminate implementation of the health care reform because the bottom line is that, if this amendment were to pass, then all of the positive things that have already gone into place in terms of eliminating discrimination against preexisting conditions or the other discriminatory practices, like lifetime or annual caps, or the requirement that young people up to the age of 26 be able to get insurance coverage on their parents' policies, all of these things essentially depend on the mandate, because without the mandate, what happens is that insurance companies go back, again, to discriminatory practices. This is nothing more but an effort essentially to eliminate the health care reform. Whether it's defunded, whether it's eliminating the mandate or the other amendments that we're going to see later today because this is a package. And we all know, it's absolutely clear, that without the mandate, it is going to be impossible to carry out the coverage and the implementation of these important provisions that eliminate discrimination.


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