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Public Statements

The Ongoing Health Care Debate

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DUFFY. I appreciate the gentleman from Arkansas yielding.

I want to take a couple of steps back in this conversation and first talk about the national debt.

Many Americans are well aware that today we owe well over $15 trillion in national debt. This year alone we're going to borrow $1.3 trillion on top of a trillion dollars last year and the year before that. There are trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.

Last year, the House Republicans put forward a budget that showed a path to balance telling the American people how we balanced the American budget at some point in the future.

Now, last year and this year, the President put out a budget, neither of which were ever balanced, never telling the American people what his plan is to bring American spending to balance with its revenues.

So we look a couple years back when the President and this House passed the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, which the CBO now states that over 10 years, the rosiest of projections say it's going to cost the country nearly $2 trillion more. Even when they put out that budget or that proposal for health care reform, they're still not willing to put out a budget that says how we're going to pay for it. That concerns me.

I'm a father of six. We're spending today and passing the bill off to the next generation. It's unconscionable.

Let's actually talk about what the President and this House have passed in ObamaCare: $2 trillion over 10 years in additional spending. It's a bill that is going to empower bureaucrats in this town to make health care decisions for Americans in every part of the country instead of your family, your health care provider, or you making that decision.

Listen, I'm from Wisconsin, and I know the values that we have in central Wisconsin. They're probably a little bit different in Arkansas or Kansas or Kentucky, Minnesota, or Michigan. I think we should allow people to make their health care decisions instead of bureaucrats in Washington.

But what concerns me the most is how ObamaCare impacts Medicare.

Now, listen. ObamaCare takes a half a trillion dollars out of Medicare and uses it to fund ObamaCare. Now, we all know in America that we have some financial pressures on Medicare. We know that we have to come together as a country, as a community, both parties, to figure out how we're going to pay for Medicare, keep the promise to our seniors.

At a time when we're still having that debate, to think that this House would pass a bill and take a half a trillion dollars out of Medicare and use it for ObamaCare, I think that's wrong. Let's first figure out how we keep the promise to our seniors before you make a promise to anyone else with their money. That is unconscionable.

What concerns me the most is what the gentleman from Arkansas mentioned, which is the Independent Payment Advisory Board. It's the IPAB, and we haven't heard a lot about it, but I think you'll hear a lot more as the months go on. This is a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats. What they're going to do is look at reimbursement rates with Medicare, and they are going to be able to systematically reduce reimbursements to doctors, hospitals, and clinics for the care for our seniors.

Let's make no mistake. This is reimbursements for our current seniors, not for some future generation. The argument by the President goes like this: Mr. and Mrs. Senior, don't you worry about your quality of care or your access to care. We're just going to pay your doctor, your hospital, and your clinic less for your care. If you believe that, I've got oceanfront land for you in Arizona.

Of course it's going to affect our seniors' access and quality of care. When you pay less for it, you're going to get less of it. Our seniors, they worked a lifetime. They bargained. They retired based on this promise for Medicare. This proposal doesn't meet that obligation. It takes a half a trillion dollars from Medicare, but then is going to ration the care of our current seniors--seniors who can't go back into the workforce and get another job. They retired based on the promise from the Federal Government, and ObamaCare reduces that bargain that's been made with our seniors.

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Mr. DUFFY. I appreciate the gentleman for telling that compelling story. All of us have stories like that from people in our districts, from our own family members, our friends, our constituents; and this is a very important issue. That's why I think we have to have this conversation about what the Independent Payment Advisory Board will do.

I used to be a former prosecutor, and we're used to a system where if you don't like the decision of a court, oftentimes you're able to appeal that decision. This board is unappealable. The decisions that they make, the 15 members when they make a decision, that is going to be the law, that is going to be the rule, and you can't appeal it, and you can't have it overturned.

I just want to close my comments up on the Independent Payment Advisory Board. We on the Republican House side don't believe that we should go forward with a plan that is going to systematically reduce reimbursements for seniors, that's going to affect the quality and access to care for our seniors. Let's give them what they bargained for. We in the House on the Republican side, we said put back the half a trillion dollars, put that back into Medicare, do away with the IPAB board. If you're going to make changes to Medicare, make it for a future generation, a generation that isn't near their retirement, a generation that will have enough time to plan for the changes in Medicare; but don't pull the rug out from our seniors who have been given a promise and now aren't going to get it because their Medicare is going to be rationed.

We think it's fair to do it for a future generation. But let's make no mistake, when we hear that one party has transformed Medicare or changed Medicare as we know it, there is one party who has done that and that is the Democratic Party in ObamaCare. They have changed the way that Medicare is going to work. They're going to ration it. We believe we should save it, protect it, preserve it. I know my freshmen colleagues in this House are going to fight tooth and nail to make sure that every one of our seniors get exactly what they bargained for in Medicare. If there are changes, it's going to be for a generation that can plan for the change in Medicare in due time and in due course.

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