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Public Statements

Protecting Access to Healthcare Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WOODALL. Madam Chairman, my amendment is a very straightforward amendment. But before I actually talk about the text of it, I want to speak about the real accomplishment of my friend from Georgia, who is the sponsor of the underlying legislation, H.R. 5.

The Washington Times did an article on this Congress and called it one of the most ineffective Congresses in history because they looked at how many laws we passed. But then they went on, and they looked at how many days of debate we'd had, how many votes we'd had, how many issues that were important to the American people have we been able to expose in this Congress that we have not been able to expose in Congress before Congress before Congress before Congress in the past, and, Madam Chair, that's what we have today.

This bill, introduced by my good friend from Georgia, gives the American people an opportunity to discuss something that is on every single family's mind in this country when it comes to health care, and that is controlling the cost of medical malpractice litigation.

Now, in this body, I'm sure we could disagree about the myriad ways there are to control it, but we can agree, I suspect--man and woman, Democrat and Republican--that it has to be controlled. And I thank my colleague from Georgia for having the courage and the stick-to-itness to bring this bill to the floor after so many years of silence on this issue.

Madam Chair, my amendment simply strikes the findings section of the bill. As you know, findings are nonbinding parts of the legislation that speak to the intent of Congress. And this issue is, again, such a passionate one, not just for the 435 Members of this House, but for the 300 million Americans across this country. I choose to let the legislation speak for itself.

This legislation has been carved out with states' rights provisions in it, to make sure the States have the flexibility that they need. It has been carved out with input from physicians, from attorneys, from families, from providers all across the board.

So my amendment, Madam Chair, would not change the substance of the bill but would simply eliminate the findings section to allow the substance of the bill to speak for itself.

And with that, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. WOODALL. Madam Chair, I yield myself such time as I may consume to say that, as a freshman in this body, I've had to learn a few things over the last 15 months here serving in this body, and what I have learned is that I haven't been able to get every bill that I want out of this House the exact way I want it when it leaves here. It has been much to my chagrin. I thought I was going to be able to come here and make every bill perfect before it leaves here. But not only can I not make it perfect before it goes, but then I have to deal with that United States Senate, and that has proved to be the most complicated part of this process.

There are absolutely, as the gentleman has listed, folks who have concerns about the underlying nature of this bill. But if not for this Gingrey bill, we wouldn't be able to have this conversation at all. If not for the courage of folks to step out on the ledge and begin this conversation, we wouldn't be able to have it at all.

If we are to advance the cause of litigation reform in this country, if we are to control the inaccessibility of health care that comes from rising costs, then we have to be willing to come to the floor of this House and have the kinds of debates that my friend from Georgia has made possible today. That's true.

I may disagree with some of the ways that we've gotten here--and by striking the findings, we make no conclusions today about why we're here--but we make the certain conclusion today that if we don't begin this process, we will never bring it to conclusion. If we don't have this discussion today, Madam Chair, we will never solve these issues.


Mr. WOODALL. Reclaiming my time, and I thank the ranking member for his question. And that's a good way to conclude, Madam Chair.

The reason is because the language of the bill speaks for itself. The language of the bill speaks for itself. When this bill passes the House today, Madam Chair, we will have the U.S. House of Representatives on record about solutions to the malpractice challenges that face this Nation. But there is no need to be on the record today, Madam Chair, about all of the different ways that we got here. Because I might disagree with my friend from Georgia about how we got here. I would certainly disagree with my friend from Michigan about how we got here.

But what is important is that we begin to take those steps forward. And with the removal of these findings, we are going to be able to let that language stand on its face for this House to have the free and open debate that I'm looking forward to today.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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