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Mr. CLAY. Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe we are asked for a 31st time to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
This isn't just a policy issue. This is a moral test. This is one of the great moral tests of our time. Those who vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act are failing that moral test. They are utterly failing that test.
Paying health insurance premiums and other health care bills has become very difficult for American families. Premiums have gone up each year and the cost of health care has escalated. Insurance companies have shifted costs to consumers through increases in deductibles and copayments and decreases in covered services. Low- and middle-income families need relief from skyrocketing health care costs.
The constitutional ACA provides real relief to American families. First, the Affordable Care Act provides direct financial relief to millions of insured American families that struggle to pay health insurance premiums today. The new law allows families to shop for a plan in new State insurance exchanges and allows them to receive a big discount on their premiums.
The ACA protects people from high deductibles, high copayments, and unexpected gaps in their insurance coverage in three ways. It eliminates lifetime and annual limits on how much an insurance plan will pay for covered benefits. That means payments won't suddenly run out. It caps how much a person must spend each year on deductibles and copayments for covered benefits. That means that families won't be forced to lose their homes because they get sick. And it provides additional help with out-of-pocket costs for lower-income families.
Second, the ACA expands the affordable insurance options to families who could not afford coverage before. Medicaid will now be available to families at or lower than the 133 percent of the Federal poverty level. For people with incomes above that level and up to 400 percent of poverty, new premium tax credits will help them afford coverage. Reducing the number of uninsured will help reduce the ``hidden health tax'' that is imposed on insured families. We all pay higher premiums to pay for the care of the uninsured.
Third, the Affordable Care Act will slow the growth of underlying health care costs and help all Americans.
As I have said on this floor before, the ACA is the greatest improvement in women's health in decades. Under the ACA, millions of women are gaining access to affordable health care coverage. Women will not have to pay more than men for the same insurance policy, and women will not be denied coverage because they are sick or have preexisting conditions. Women will be guaranteed preventive services, such as mammograms and cervical cancer screenings, with no deductibles or copays.
Senior women will have access to coordinated care.
Senior women will save thousands of dollars as reform closes the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap.
Family caregivers--who are typically women--will benefit from new supports that help them care for their loved ones while also taking care of themselves.
Mr. Speaker, as the great Progressive Hubert Humphrey said:
``The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life, the sick; the needy and the handicapped.''
By voting to repeal the ACA, my colleagues are failing that test, Mr. Speaker. They are failing that moral test.
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