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Public Statements

Affordable Care Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SARBANES. Madam Speaker, this week, we're marking the second anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act. I wanted to take a few minutes to speak to a number of groups that have benefited from the health care reform, a reform which I strongly supported.

If you think back to the time of the debate 2 years ago, it was at the height of hearing stories about people across the country, millions of people, who were struggling to access the health care system. So let me speak to the struggles of two or three particular groups.

Many adults across the country had had the experience of trying to get health care coverage, health care insurance, and discovering that because they had a ``preexisting condition,'' as it's so called, that they would be denied that coverage. If you look at some of the policies even today, you can see that the list of preexisting conditions is a long one. You don't have to have some kind of exotic disease or condition. Diabetes, hypertension, other things that plague millions of Americans across the country could be the basis for an insurance company denying coverage to you.

As difficult as that experience was for many adults to have when they went to try to purchase coverage because they had a preexisting condition, the most heart-wrenching stories we heard were of parents who had a child that suffered from a preexisting condition, and that child was unable to get health insurance coverage. It literally was tearing the hearts out of families across this country. One of the things that the Affordable Care Act put in place was a prohibition against denying coverage for children based on a preexisting condition. That is now law as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

Those who argue that we should repeal the Affordable Care Act, I cannot believe that they want to go back to a time when a family would have to look at their child who had a preexisting condition and know that they couldn't get coverage, couldn't provide health care for that child. I can't believe that we want to go back to that.

A second group that benefited are young people, many of whom after they graduated from college could no longer stay on the health insurance plan of their parents because it wasn't provided for. Under the Affordable Care Act, if you're a young person, you can now stay on your parents' health insurance plan until age 26.

This is making a huge difference for millions of Americans across the country. Already hundreds of thousands have taken advantage of the opportunity to stay on the insurance plan of their parents, which means that young people, many of whom think that they're invincible but then something happens to them and they need that health insurance coverage, now they'll have it. It's still in place because, under the Affordable Care Act, there's now a requirement that health insurance plans cover young people until age 26.

I cannot believe that those who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act want to go back to a situation where millions of young people can't access that health insurance coverage.

And let me talk about the third group, our seniors who, 2 years ago, were dealing with the situation of having to come out of pocket for prescription drugs because of the so-called doughnut hole under the prescription drug benefit program. Under the Affordable Care Act, we put in place the opportunity now to begin closing the doughnut hole and making sure that seniors who are in the doughnut hole have access to a 50 percent discount on prescription drugs, brand-name prescription drugs.

So now our seniors, many of whom before were having to make a choice between do I cover the cost of food, do I pay the rent, or do I cover the cost of my prescription drugs because they were having to come out of pocket, now, many of them don't have to make that terrible choice because of the assistance provided by the Affordable Care Act.

I cannot believe that those who are urging the repeal of health care reform want to take our seniors back to a place where they have to make that terrible choice between whether to cover the rent, buy food, or pay for their prescription drugs.

Madam Speaker, there are so many good things already in place as a result of the health care reform, and I cannot believe that those who want to repeal it want to deny our children, want to deny our young people, want to deny our seniors the benefits that it provides.

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