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Public Statements

The Affordable Care Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BUTTERFIELD. Mr. Speaker, the centerpiece of President Obama's 2008 Presidential campaign was the promise of health care reform. He told us, time and time again, that every President has seen the urgency of reform, that all of them had attempted reform, and none succeeded.

President Obama reminded us of the fact that having more than 40 million uninsured Americans is unacceptable. It is not only bad for the individual, but it is for the American economy. It is bad for hospitals who absorb the loss for these indigent patients or shift the costs to other patients.

During the campaign, the President went on to painfully highlight the unfair practices of some insurance companies in making people think they have quality insurance policies, when, in fact, in many instances, it is not worth the paper it is written on.

After fierce debate, and after the right-wing Tea Party instilled unfounded fear in the hearts of good Americans, the Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, and it is good policy for the American people. But there are those who have exploited the legitimacy of the Affordable Care Act, and now we await a ruling from the Supreme Court on the act's constitutionality.

Should the Supreme Court decide to undermine the most vital provision of the law, the individual mandate, one thing will be clear: it would be an act of judicial activism and judicial overreach, placing the Court firmly in the role of Congress.

Precedent for the Affordable Care Act already exists. Social Security is a program which all Americans are required to pay into and to participate. Car insurance is mandated in almost every State; yet the Supreme Court is on precipice of possible unfastening the linchpin that makes true health care reform attainable.

Such a decision would confiscate benefits that the public and businesses largely support. Lifetime coverage limits could be re-imposed on 100 million Americans. Seventeen million children with preexisting conditions could lose insurance coverage, and 6 million young adults may be forced off their parents' insurance plans.

Preservation of this law means 40 million uninsured Americans will be insured. It creates state-run health exchanges to give consumers maximum choice when selecting a policy, and it contains skyrocketing costs in medical care. The Affordable Care Act will lower insurance premiums driven by uncompensated care for the uninsured, saving the average family in North Carolina $1,400 a year.

Mr. Speaker, the Affordable Care Act has already paid great dividends in my district. Under the law, 94,000 seniors have received Medicare preventive services without paying a dime. More than 5,000 young adults have health insurance when they previously did not. About 400 small businesses received tax credits to expand care to their employees; 34,000 children with preexisting health conditions can no longer be denied.

As a policy-maker representing 700,000 people, I hope the act will remain intact. As a former judge, I hope the Supreme Court recognizes the impact an unfavorable decision will have on the role of Congress.

We cannot let the perfect, Mr. Speaker, be the enemy of the good. We should explore ways to improve upon the law instead of ways to further deny Americans access to affordable health care.

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