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Public Statements

Repeal of Obamacare Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 3 minutes.

Today reminds me of the movie ``Groundhog Day.'' For those of you who aren't familiar with the movie, it's about a TV weatherman who finds himself repeating the same day over and over again. No matter what he does, he's stuck on the same day. Does that sound familiar? I think it does.

Today, we will take yet another show vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act which will never become law. In fact, we're wasting 2 days debating its repeal when Congress should be focusing on jobs and reducing the deficit. This exercise in futility does nothing but attempt to turn the clock back on all the many benefits already in place for Americans across this country. Meanwhile, it increases the deficit, puts insurance companies back in charge of America's health care, increases costs, cuts benefits for Medicare seniors, and eliminates $40 billion in tax credits to help make insurance more affordable for small businesses.

Mr. Speaker, the Affordable Care Act ensures that hardworking middle class families will get the security they deserve and protects every American from the worst insurance company abuses. The law includes numerous provisions to keep health care costs low, promote prevention, and hold insurance companies accountable.

For those Americans who already have health care, whether through private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act is already making your coverage more secure. For example, insurance companies no longer have unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny your child coverage due to a preexisting condition, or charge women more than men.

Over 80 million Americans have gained coverage of preventive care free of charge, like mammograms for women and wellness visits for seniors. Nearly 13 million Americans will receive a rebate this summer because their insurance company spent too much of their premium dollars on administrative costs or CEO bonuses, and 5.3 million seniors and people with disabilities have saved an average of over $600 on prescription drugs and the doughnut hole in Medicaid coverage, Medicare coverage. Also, 6.6 million young adults have been able to stay on their parents' plans until the age of 26, including 3.1 million young people who were newly insured--and I hear about this all the time when I am home in my district.

For those Americans who yet don't have health insurance, help is really on the way. Starting in 2014, the Affordable Care Act will offer an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from. If someone can't afford insurance, or for a small business that wants to provide affordable insurance to their employees, tax credits are available that make coverage affordable.

The result of this repeal, which the Republicans are putting forth today, is to basically say that millions of middle class Americans will lose out on new health freedoms and new health coverage that make a positive difference in their lives. Rather than refight these old partisan battles by starting over on health care and repealing basic protections that provide security for the middle class, Congress needs to work together to focus on the economy and create jobs.

The House Republican leadership would do well to seek bipartisan solutions to jobs and the economy instead of seeking this repeal.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PALLONE. I yield myself 1 minute, Mr. Speaker.

I am amazed by the comments that the previous speaker made on the Republican side. The fact of the matter is that the Affordable Care Act amounts to a tax cut.

Right now, in the State of New Jersey, for people who are paying for their health insurance, we estimate that about $1,000 or $1,500 annually from their premiums is actually going to pay for those who are uninsured, for people who don't have insurance and have to go to the emergency rooms and then don't pay their bills.

Once the Affordable Care Act fully kicks in, because of the fact that everyone will be insured and all those people who now go to the emergency rooms and have no insurance will, in fact, have coverage, for the people who are paying their premiums right now, they're actually going to be paying less--it will be a tax cut--because they won't be paying for those people who now are uninsured.

I think it's really incredible because, if you think about it, the Republicans always talk about personal responsibility. How is it fair that people don't have themselves covered? How is it that they don't carry health insurance and then make other people pay for it?

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PALLONE. I will close at this time, and yield myself the balance of my time.

Mr. Speaker, let me say over again--and I know we've had this debate so many times that it really sounds like we just keep repeating the same thing--that this is a very important day at some level because the fact of the matter is the Republicans continue with this effort to try to repeal what is probably one of the most important pieces of legislation that has ever passed in the last few years in the Congress and has been signed by the President.

The reason is that, for the first time, when the Affordable Care Act fully kicks in, most Americans--probably 98.99 percent of Americans--will have health insurance. We estimate maybe 30, 40--perhaps more--million Americans right now do not have health insurance.

There are probably as many who are what we call ``underinsured.'' In other words, they can't really buy a good benefit package.

The fact of the matter is, by 2014, when the Affordable Care Act fully kicks in, you'll be able to go on an exchange either in your State or anywhere in the country and find a good benefit package, one that's as good probably as what you would get now under Blue Cross or Blue Shield, good benefits at a good price. That is an amazing thing. We've been here for 200 years in this country and were never able to say that that would actually happen.

I heard my colleagues on the Republican side in the Rules Committee say last night, We'll just repeal this and we'll come up with a better plan.

But they haven't come up with a better plan. They talk about health savings accounts and malpractice and all these different things that are basically around the edges. They would pretty much not guarantee most Americans, as they do under the Affordable Care Act, that they would be able to access health insurance, the peace of mind that goes with that and all the benefits that have already kicked in that would be repealed under this bill:

The fact that seniors eventually won't have to worry about the doughnut hole and will have their prescription drug coverage no matter how much they actually spend, that they'll only have to pay a co-pay; the fact that so many seniors now have preventive care; the fact that kids up to 26 years old can go on their parents' health insurance policy. So many people talk to me about that.

There's also the fact that preexisting conditions for women and others is no longer a factor in terms of your ability to buy health insurance; the fact that there are no more lifetime caps, recisions, all these discriminatory practices that we've had in the past when you are trying to buy health insurance.

The fact of the matter is that already, over the last few years, most of these discriminatory practices have been eliminated. Many people may not even realize it's a result of the Affordable Care Act, but the fact is that it is. That's why these discriminatory practices are going away.

Last night, the chairman of the Rules Committee said, We'll repeal this and we will do something and be different, and the insurance companies will continue not to have these discriminatory practices. That's simply not true. The insurance companies will go back to the discriminatory practices if you repeal this bill. They'll almost be forced to. Because of the way this is set up, when everybody has health insurance, then the insurance companies can make enough money, if you will, so they don't have to discriminate. But they'll go back to it if this is repealed.

I ask my colleagues to stop bringing this up. This is a bad bill. Let's defeat it now, and let's continue the way we should with the Affordable Care Act in light of the Supreme Court's decision.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.


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