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Repealing Mandatory Funding for the State Health Insurance Exchanges

Location: Washington, DC


I yield myself 3 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, this is just another in the Republican series of efforts to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I don't need to say, but I will say over and over again how effective the Affordable Care Act has been.

We have already put in place most of the anti-discriminatory aspects of the Affordable Care Act so that people now can have their children up to 26 on their insurance policy. They don't have lifetime or annual limits on care. We've ended arbitrary rescissions. We're giving patients access to preventive services without cost. We've begun the process of filling up the doughnut hole by giving seniors a $250 rebate last year, and now a 50 percent discount on the drugs. The list goes on and on. People are starting to see the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

But as you know, over the next few years, until 2014, one of the major benefits of it is that we will now cover almost every American; 32 more million Americans that have no insurance now, with a guaranteed good benefits package, lower costs, and help in paying their premiums.

The fact of the matter is, the Republicans want to eliminate all this. And when they talk today about bringing up a bill that would eliminate the grants or the funding for the state exchanges, this is at the core of the Affordable Care Act because, without effective state exchanges, robust state exchanges that are actually tailored, if you will, to individual States, it will be more difficult to do the things that I mentioned that are the commitment and the promise of the Affordable Care Act.

Now, what I don't understand though is that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have always been advocates for States' rights. The consequence of their legislation today if it were to become law would mean that States, and 49 States and most of the territories have asked for these grants, would be denied these grants to set up the State exchanges. Most likely, what will happen then is that, rather than have a State exchange which is tailored to their own State and their own constituents, they will end up having a Federal or national exchange.

Now frankly, I don't have a problem with that. But if you're a States rights advocate, which is what a lot of the Republicans have been saying all along, why would you want to force the States to not have their own flexibility, not set up their own State exchanges and instead set up a Federal exchange?

The exchanges aren't going to go away with this legislation. It's simply going to mean that the States can't do a good job, or that they're going to yield that power to the Federal Government and you're going to have a national exchange.

This is the worst time to do this. As we know, States are hurting. They don't have money. Most of them have a crisis in terms of balancing their budget. Why would you want to deny them the money to set up the exchange?

I'll give you an example in my own State. My own State has applied for some of these grants. They are using it to do demographics to find out what kind of people they have, what their health care needs are, so they can tailor the State exchange in a way that's most effective to cover the most Americans and provide them good quality health care at a low cost. That's what this is all about.

And for the Republicans today to bring this bill up in their effort to try to repeal the whole package, it absolutely makes no sense whatsoever. I just don't understand it.

They talk about mandatory funding. Well, we have mandatory funding for Medicare, for Medicaid, for all kind of things in this Congress. All they're going to do with this is make it more difficult for the States to establish their own exchange.

I reserve the balance of my time.


I hold the gentlewoman in a lot of respect, but it bothers me that you say we are going to come back and keep voting and voting again on repeal, repeal, repeal. We know this isn't going to pass the Senate.

When I went home the last 2 weeks, all I heard was: What are you doing to create jobs? Deal with the economy.

When we deal with this and keep doing the same thing over and over again, we don't deal with jobs.


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