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Public Statements

GOP Doctors Caucus

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. BUERKLE. Thank you very much to my friend and colleague from Michigan. Thank you for having this Special Order tonight. And I think it's so critical, Mr. Speaker, when the Docs Caucus has this event, and the people who are speaking are people are passionate about health care. Many of us actually came to Congress because we were so concerned regarding the Affordable Care Act. I spent my life as a nurse and later on as an attorney who represented a large teaching hospital. And so I am passionate about health care. As my colleague before me mentioned, there's nothing more personal than one's health care. And this Nation has the highest quality of health care, and we want to make sure we maintain the standard that we have.

I don't think anyone would disagree, Mr. Speaker, that this country needs health care reform. And while this law may have been the most well-intentioned, I disagreed with it philosophically when I decided to run for Congress. But now that I'm in Congress and I have had the opportunity to talk to so many folks in my district, this law, this Affordable Care Act that was supposed to decrease the cost of health care and increase access for Americans, is not going to do that. And let me, if I could, talk just briefly about what is going on in my district.

My district is heavy with ``eds and meds,'' we call it. We have a lot of hospitals in my district, and they're the major employers.

Now, the hospitals have spoken to me. They're concerned because this Affordable Care Act, this ObamaCare law, will decrease the amount of disproportionate share moneys they give because they treat a population of patients who may not have insurance or who are underinsured. So they're concerned about their fiscal, their financial integrity. Those are the hospitals. Those are providers.

The Affordable Care Act doesn't address the SGR fix, the Medicare reimbursements for physicians. So I've got physicians who are concerned. It also creates a scenario where we will not have enough primary care physicians, internal medicine, psychiatry, those types of physicians who can even render the care. So the providers are concerned, the actual people and facilities who render the care. They're concerned that this law is going to adversely affect them. That's my first concern.

My second concern are my seniors. And in all of this discussion and debate, I think the most disingenuous discussion that's going on out there is the denial as to what this law will do to seniors and their Medicare coverage. I think my colleague ahead of me talked about the moral obligation we have to our seniors. We have a contract with them that when you retire, when you turn 65, Medicare, you've paid into it all your life, and you will be able to have that benefit.

But this law, this Affordable Care Act, cuts Medicare by $716 billion. Now, there's no program in the world that will not be affected by the loss of that much funding and the funding that's being taken out of Medicare, and it's going to be used to fund the rest of the entitlement in this law.

So seniors really need to understand the threat to Medicare as we know it is this Affordable Care Act. And it has changed Medicare as we know it for our seniors, and this law will affect everyone who's on Medicare.

The discussion about the Ryan budget and the budget we passed out of the House, that discussion is only for those who are 54 and younger. So anyone who is 55 and above, with the Republican proposal for Medicare, can take a deep breath and they can say, My contract with this country, my benefit through Medicare will not be touched, and I can rely and count on that. That's a very important promise that we can make to our seniors.

But this Affordable Care Act can't make that promise to our seniors because it is cutting Medicare, and as my colleague from Michigan talked about, this IPAB board will also affect the kinds of services that our seniors receive.

So every American, especially our seniors, should be concerned about this law that is in place that will go into effect in 2013 and 2014.

So, we've heard from the hospitals and the physicians. They're not happy with this law. We've heard from the seniors. They're not happy with this law.

I hear from my businesses, my small businesses, those entities that we're trying to get this economy going, and they're concerned because they don't know how this law is going to affect them. They don't know whether or not they're going to have to pay the penalty or pay the tax. They're very concerned because of the uncertainty this creates in their businesses. So, they sit on cash and they don't invest and they don't hire. So my small businesses don't like this Affordable Care Act.

Now, just recently, and we've had a lot of debate about the tax on small medical devices that will occur to any small medical device producer in the country. Now, that's a niche sort of industry. It's one of the only sectors of the economy that has grown. It requires R&D. It requires innovation. It requires real creative production of small medical devices.

I have a well-known company right in my district, and on Monday of this week, they announced that they will cut 10 percent of their workforce directly related to two things. The first is that 2.3 percent excise tax on small medical device producers. Ten percent of that workforce will be done away with because of this Affordable Care Act. The other reason they are cutting their workforce is because of the tax and also because of the fact that, with this Affordable Care Act, hospitals and physicians are not buying new equipment because they, too, are uncertain as to what the Affordable Care Act is going to do to them and their business. So they're not buying new equipment for their hospitals and their offices.

So, now we've got seniors, hospitals, physicians, small medical device companies, businesses very concerned as to how this law is going to affect them.

The Court ruled that it's a tax, and that's why it's constitutional. There's 21 new taxes in this Affordable Care Act. It's going to affect our jobs and our economy. It's going to affect our small businesses. It's not the right direction for this country. Only the practical listening to people over and over again in the district puts that out very, very clearly.

So I think the right thing to do for this Nation--and this House, I'm so proud we have voted to repeal this law twice. We also voted in June to repeal the tax on small medical devices. That's the right thing to do.

The responsible thing to do is enact true health care reform that will really reduce the cost of health care, that will allow patients choice, that will allow them to cross State lines to buy their insurance. It will allow them to keep their insurance even if they lose their job. It will have tort reform in it and bring down the cost of health care. It will repeal the excise tax on small medical devices. It will keep the good pieces.

The two things I hear over and over again: preexisting conditions--and my colleague from Maryland mentioned it. Preexisting conditions, along with keeping your child on your plan until they're 26. Those two could certainly be incorporated in a new truly reformative health care law in this Nation.

So I thank my colleague from Michigan for all of his good work, for his dedication to the health care profession. I'm proud to be a member of the Docs Caucus because we are a group of people who have committed our life to health care. We are passionate about making sure that the United States of America maintains its high quality of health care and also keeps costs and accessibility to the highest standard for the people who live in this country.


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