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Public Statements

The Affordable Care Act is Making a Difference

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. AL GREEN of Texas. Mr. Speaker, the Affordable Care Act is styled such for a reason. Let us look back to 2009, at the time we embarked upon passing the Affordable Care Act. At that time in 2009, we were spending $2.5 trillion per year on health care--$2.5 trillion. That is a lot of money, and it is very difficult to understand $2.5 trillion. Well, $2.5 trillion is $79,000 per second. That's what we were spending on health care, $79,000 per second. I'll be quite candid with you: these numbers are so huge that sometimes I do confuse them myself. That's $79,000 per second.

We were spending 17.6 percent of GDP on health care. It was projected that by 2018, we would be spending $4.4 trillion per year on health care. That would be $139,000 per second. As I said, big numbers. It's hard to always get them correct because they are so huge and they can be confusing. That's $139,000 per second.

We had 45,000 persons per year dying because they didn't have proper health care. We had 21 million people who were working full time and did not have insurance. That is 21 million people. In my State of Texas, 6 million people were uninsured. Twenty percent of the State's children were uninsured. In Harris County in my State of Texas, 1.1 million people were uninsured.

It was time for this Congress to act, and act we did. By passing the Affordable Care Act, we have reduced the cost of health care over the long term. It doesn't happen immediately, because the rising cost, as I've explained to you, was exponentially huge. It was almost unimaginable. To bring it down doesn't mean it comes down instantly, but over the next 20 years we will save a trillion dollars.

Here's what we've done. Aside from lowering the cost, which is important, we also impact lives. Preventive care is there. We also do away with preexisting conditions. For those who did not know, pregnancy is a preexisting condition. We also make sure that women are not discriminated against. Women won't be charged more simply because they are females, because they are women. We equalize health care as it relates to the genders. We close the doughnut hole as it relates to senior citizens. I might also add that in '09, we were spending about $100 billion a year on uninsured persons, much of that in emergency rooms where persons had to go to the emergency room to get the care that they did not have by virtue of not having insurance. They were getting their primary care in emergency rooms. They were also getting their pharmaceuticals through emergency rooms. It was a time to act, and act we did. We passed the Affordable Care Act.

I will close with this. We live in the richest country in the world. One out of every 100 persons is a millionaire. In this country, if you are an enemy combatant and we should capture you and wound you in the process, we will give you aid and comfort. In this country, if you are a bank robber and you're robbing the bank and on the way out we should harm you, when we capture you, we will give you aid and comfort. In this country, if you're on death row and scheduled to meet your Maker next week and you get sick this week, we give you aid and comfort this week and we send you to meet your Maker next week. In this country, if we can give aid and comfort to the enemy combatant, if we can give aid and comfort to the criminal who robs the bank, if we can give aid and comfort to the person on death row, surely we can give aid and comfort to hardworking Americans who do not earn enough to afford insurance.

The Affordable Care Act does this. It does not require people who cannot afford insurance to buy it, but it does say that every person who can should buy insurance.

The Affordable Care Act is making a difference in the lives of people. Children can stay on their parents' policies until they're 26 years of age. This was a good piece of legislation. I supported it then and I still support it now. The Affordable Care Act is affordable, and that is why we passed it.

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