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Public Statements

Obamacare's Broken Promises

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HECK. I thank my colleague from Tennessee and my fellow health care practitioner for heading up this most important discussion this evening.

Mr. Speaker, I come to the floor today to talk about something that a majority of Americans actually already know. The health care overhaul that was forced through Congress on a party line vote in the dead of night with special interest provisions like the ``Cornhusker kickback'' and the ``Louisiana purchase'' is a bad piece of legislation that should be repealed. In fact, a recent New York Times poll showed that 68 percent of respondents want to see the law partially or fully repealed.

It's no surprise that the American people are frustrated and want to scrap this law and start over. The law has failed to deliver on all of its major promises. We were told that the law would reduce costs, reduce the deficit, create jobs, and allow people who liked their insurance plan to stay on it. Well, we now know that it has fallen far short of these goals as we continue to read stories and studies outlining just how harmful this law will be for patients and for the economy.

We know that this law will not reduce the deficit. In March, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report in which they projected the costs of the health care overhaul out to the year 2022. They found that the bill will cost $1.7 trillion between now and then. That is twice as much as the bill was originally intended to cost. And this, of course, would be added to a national debt of over $15 trillion.

We know this law will hurt access to care for patients, especially our seniors. In addition to gimmick accounting that essentially cuts $500 billion from Medicare and disproportionately affecting Medicare Advantage beneficiaries, the health care overhaul established the Independent Payment Advisory Board. This board of unelected Washington bureaucrats, this Medicare IRS, will be handpicked by the administration to cut funding for Medicare.

Make no mistake about it. The bill is very clear about the aim of this board, and I quote:

It is the purpose of this section to, in accordance with the following provisions of this section, reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending.

The board will be unaccountable to the American people. It will be unaccountable to the Congress, and it will even be unaccountable to the President, and will stand between seniors and the services they receive from Medicare.

As a doctor, I fear that when forced to reduce the Medicare costs, the actions of this board will have serious implications for access to care for seniors. That is not what my constituents and the people of Nevada want in a health care system.

We know that this law is going to increase health care costs for patients. As was mentioned, we just voted to repeal the medical device tax contained in the health care overhaul, one of many such taxes contained therein, that would have imposed a 2.3 percent tax on medical device manufacturers and was projected to increase taxes by $28.5 million over the next 10 years. This tax would result in higher costs for medical device manufacturers and would be passed on to patients in the form of more expensive medical bills. Increased costs for doctor and hospital visits will widen the access to care gap, even as individuals and families are struggling to keep pace with the current skyrocketing health care costs. In my home State of Nevada, this increased tax on device manufacturers would put over 1,000 jobs at risk.

We know that this law will cause people to be dropped from coverage plans that they like. I have heard from concerned small businesses in my own district like Imagine Communications, a marketing firm in Henderson, Nevada, that employs 11 people. When they started out, they paid 100 percent of their employees' insurance premiums because they saw it as a way to attract and retain quality employees. But due to skyrocketing costs, they have been forced to cut back to only providing 50 percent of premiums, and they hope they can continue to do just that. But the way things are going, they aren't sure how much longer they will be able to be sustainable. They are looking at having to drop employees from coverage because of the increased cost of providing insurance.

As we stand here today, we await a landmark ruling from the highest court in the country on whether key

components of the law are even constitutional. The individual mandate, the provision that forces every American to buy insurance or pay a fine, a tax, is the wrong approach to take on health care reform. Instead of penalizing nonaction, we should be incentivizing people to take responsible action in making their own personal health care decisions.

I stand with the nearly 70 percent of Americans who want to see this law repealed and replaced with commonsense, patient-centered reforms that truly increase access to primary care and help people avoid costly procedures and trips to the emergency departments.

Instead of injecting more government into our health care system, our focus should be on patients, especially our seniors who rely on access to quality health care.

Our system is working for most Americans. Almost 85 percent have health insurance, and it can work for all Americans through commonsense reforms like moving coverage towards an individual-based model, increasing competition by allowing the purchase of insurance across State lines, incentivizing the purchase of insurance through tax credits, reforming medical malpractice laws, and letting people, not government, decide what services they need and want.

Second chances don't come along very often, Mr. Speaker, but we have before us a great opportunity to get health care reform right.

As a practicing emergency medicine physician, I have worked on the front lines of health care, caring for all, regardless of chief complaint, time of day, or ability to pay. I have seen firsthand what works and what doesn't work in our health care system. That's why I've introduced two pieces of legislation aimed at repealing the onerous provisions that hurt individuals and businesses, repairing the elements of the law that have merit, and replacing the broken pieces of the law with reasonable reforms and strengthening Medicare. I look forward to advancing these pieces of legislation in the wake of the Court's decision.

We have the best health care system in the world, and we should look for ways to include as many Americans as possible in it. But we also have a duty to uphold the Constitution and pass laws that will achieve their stated goal. The Affordable Care Act missed the mark in both respects, and I look forward to joining my colleagues in delivering a health care solution that will benefit the American people.

Again, I thank my colleague from Tennessee for organizing this Special Order.


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