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Public Statements

Repeal of Obamacare Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 6079, the latest Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and block meaningful reform. I stand with the young people who can now find coverage under their parents' health insurance plans, Americans with pre-existing conditions who had been denied access to care, and senior citizens who cannot afford the sky-rocketing costs of medical treatments. Mr. Speaker, I stand with all Americans who will now begin to see the overall cost of health insurance go down.

The Affordable Care Act has been upheld by the United States Supreme Court as a constitutional law. I now rise to praise it as a wise and moral one, as well.

Access to quality, affordable healthcare is a basic right and is critical to the wellbeing of America, both today and in the future. This legislation addresses the needs of the millions of uninsured Americans, strengthens the Medicare system, and relieves all Americans of the growing financial burden of medical costs and insurance. Those who are attempting to obstruct healthcare reform are in effect sabotaging the health and financial security of my constituents and fellow Americans, and I cannot allow this repeal to pass.

In the 37th Congressional District of California, the benefits of the Affordable Care Act are undisputable. 23,000 children and 90,000 adults now have health insurance that covers preventative services with no co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles. 510 small businesses have received tax credits to help maintain or expand healthcare coverage for their employees. Healthcare providers in the district have also received $3.4 million in Affordable Care Act grants since 2010 to support community health centers; to develop innovative, cost-saving healthcare delivery systems; and to train health professionals.

These statistics are not unique to my district, and similar success stories are emerging in all corners of the country.

Look, for instance, at how the healthcare law is benefiting young adults and children. Under this reform, young adults may stay on their parents' health insurance until their 26th birthday, which is especially critical when recent graduates and young adults are seeking employment. Young adults are the most uninsured group among all Americans, and without this provision, 3.1 million young adults would be uncovered.

Before the Affordable Care Act passed, health insurance companies could also deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, including common conditions like asthma. Healthcare reform corrected this unconscionable abuse, and its repeal would be a direct attack on the 17 million children who will now be protected from discrimination.

The concept of pre-existing conditions was also used to justify discriminatory policies that targeted women. Many women have been denied coverage or are charged at higher rates for conditions that include breast or cervical cancer, pregnancy, a history of a C-section, or having been a victim of domestic violence. I have a long history of supporting women's access to reproductive healthcare as well as a strong record fighting domestic violence. I am proud to support the Affordable Care Act, which gives women many of the rights and protections that I have fought for.

I would also like to take a moment to highlight how the Affordable Care Act helps American seniors by strengthening Medicare. 5.3 million seniors who used to fall into the ``donut hole'' Medicare coverage gap have already saved $3.7 billion on prescription drugs because of healthcare reform, averaging $600 per senior. The healthcare law will also completely close the ``donut hole'' by 2020. In addition, Medicare recipients are receiving a free annual wellness visit and coverage of key preventive services, meaning that seniors can access care before any problems escalate into costly and chronic conditions down the road. These services are possible because the Affordable Care Act has sparked a record-breaking crackdown on Medicare fraud, recovering more than $4.1 billion in fiscal year 2011 alone.

Mr. Speaker, the Affordable Care Act addresses serious problems that have been plaguing children, women, and seniors. Its reforms will even the playing field for anyone who wants quality health insurance and will help our country more closely resemble the principles on which it was founded.

Despite the unfounded claims that this bill will raise taxes for everyday Americans, the Affordable Care Act will bring significant and immediate savings to the middle class at a time when they need it most. The healthcare law will provide a tax cut that averages around $4,000 for 18 million middle class people, and 12.8 million Americans will receive $1.1 billion back in rebates by August. When insurance companies overspend on administrative costs and CEO bonuses, it is the middle class who pays.

Until now, everyday citizens have also had to subsidize the medical costs for a small number of people who can afford healthcare but choose to remain without coverage. These individuals force American families to pay an additional $1,017 each year to compensate. The Affordable Care Act would impose a modest penalty, ensuring that those who do not purchase their own coverage do not cause spikes in the cost of others' insurance. Although opponents of the Affordable Care Act attack this ``free-rider'' penalty as an unfair tax, the truth is that the majority of Americans will never have to pay it and rather stand to benefit from lower insurance rates.

Mr. Speaker, the Affordable Care Act was a long overdue bill that corrects deep injustices in access to healthcare. Should the act be repealed, there is no planned reform to take its place. We would simply return to the same broken healthcare system and the same failed policies.

Many Americans view Congress as a system that is equally broken. They see that their leaders have an unprecedented opportunity for creating real and lasting change, and instead that chance is being squandered for short-sighted political gain. The GOP-controlled House is unleashing this attack without offering any new solutions. The Republican dismantling of the healthcare bill would be an act of betrayal to the American people who deserve basic health insurance, not election-year politics.

We have just celebrated the Fourth of July and marked the 236th anniversary of American independence. Looking back on our nation's history, there are certain moments that exemplify our evolution toward true democracy. Those are moments of action, not simply a rhetorical commitment to equality. We freed the slaves, extended voting rights to women, passed the Civil Rights Act and the G.I. bill, gave the right to vote to 18-year-olds, created social security and Medicare, and most recently repealed the discriminatory ``Don't Ask, Don't Tell'' policy. Each of these battles faced fierce opposition, but, now that they have been won, they are remembered as a triumph of core American values. Many look back and believe that America's best days are behind us, but I look ahead and see the Affordable Care Act as yet another brick in the wall of American greatness.

Mr. Speaker, all Americans--young, old, rich, and poor--have an unalienable right to healthcare. I ask my colleagues to join me in my pledge to support the Affordable Care Act and to continue efforts to strengthen our healthcare system in years to come.


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