GOP Doctors Caucus: The Anniversary of Obamacare

Floor Speech

By:  Andy Harris
Date: March 21, 2013
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HARRIS. Thank you very much, and I appreciate you yielding some time to me on this important occasion.

As the doctor from Texas has said, Mr. Speaker, we are going to ``celebrate''--and I put that in quotes--the third anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

I will tell you a lot of things haven't changed in the past 3 years unfortunately, even though we were promised that things would. For instance, as many Americans know, we were promised that premiums were going to go down magically. What did we find? Premiums went up. They continued to rise. The Affordable Care Act was the wrong solution if the problem was rising health care premiums.

Now, other things have happened in the past 3 years that really haven't changed much. One is that the American people still don't like the Affordable Care Act. We know that in poll after poll after poll, a clear majority of Americans wish this bill just simply didn't exist, yet it still does.

More seriously than even that, over the past 3 years we've had a jobless recovery, and a large part of the blame has to be on some of the policies that were put in place 3 years ago, the cornerstone of which was the Affordable Care Act.

We know, for instance, that there's a new term in the United States now. We thought the 49ers were a team that played in the Super Bowl. No. Now the 49ers are those small businesses that don't have 50 employees yet, created by people who want to grow businesses, who want to employ people, but they know if they hire that 50th employee, a whole lot of the Affordable Care Act and its mandates and regulations and costs and taxes kick in. So they're going to be stuck at 49 employees.

As some of them say, instead of hiring that 50th or 51st or 60th employee, they'll buy a piece of equipment, they'll find some other way, they'll stop growing that business rather than bring upon themselves the effect of the Affordable Care Act.

Now, we know that it doesn't stop there. America is the land of opportunity. This is why people strive to come to this country. There is a ladder of opportunity. You get on that bottom rung and you keep on climbing in this country, and the sky is the limit.

Mr. Speaker, one problem with the Affordable Care Act is it's knocking people off the bottom rung. They're trying to get on, and they're on that bottom rung and they're getting knocked off. What do I mean by that?

Last year, the President, for instance, bragged on 230,000 new jobs. What the President didn't mention is there were actually over 300,000 part-time jobs created and about 100,000 full-time jobs lost. We created jobs. We created part-time jobs. I don't know about you, Mr. Speaker, but, for me, that's not economic recovery. That's not economic growth. That's not the job creation this country deserves.

We have to ask ourselves: Why would employers stop hiring full time and now hire part time? It's a simple answer. The Affordable Care Act makes it unaffordable for those employers to hire a full-time employee because they know, if they hire a full-time employee, they bring all the rules and regulations and mandates and taxes of the Affordable Care Act into their businesses. So what's their solution? They don't hire the 50th employee, and the employees they hire are part time.

Now, I would offer that's not the way to get out of this economic mess we're in and that we ought to be for job creation. We all know that the problem with the Affordable Care Act is that it has destroyed and it is continuing to destroy jobs. Honestly, the jobs that it destroys the most are the jobs for the people who need them the most--for the people who are on that bottom rung or who are starting to get on that second rung of the ladder and are getting knocked off.

This isn't the kind of recovery America deserves, but it's a logical conclusion from a bill that was poorly thought-out. We remember what the passage of that bill looked like--the deals that had to be made in order to make it a single-party bill. Remember, this was not a bipartisan effort. This was not getting everybody together--all Americans of all political parties and all ideas--and saying, How do we solve this problem in the best way that can unite us? This was a bill to advance a political agenda; and, unfortunately, it caught up the American economy in that agenda.

As the doctor from Texas, I'm sure, is going to talk about, it didn't have to be this way. There are many other ways to solve the problems that we have.

Mr. Speaker, we have problems with health care in this country. We know that it costs more than other countries. We know, for instance, that someone who has a preexisting condition does have difficulty finding insurance coverage. Yet we also know that the majority of States solve that problem at the State level. They don't need the big hand of Washington reaching into the States and imposing a solution in their States that simply may not work--in this case, imposing a solution on these States and the businessmen and -women in the States that is strangling job creation in the United States, and we know the figures.

What has been unique about the last 3 years--and I'll put it in quotes--of our ``recovery'' is that, for the first time in my life and for the first time in many Americans' lives, it is a jobless recovery. Sure, the stock market continues to rise, and businesses continue to do well; but that doesn't trickle down to the people who need those jobs, because the Affordable Care Act destroyed jobs and is continuing to destroy jobs in this country.

I am a physician. I won't even get into the effect it's having on our health care delivery system, because I could talk for hours on that and on what physicians tell me and hospitals tell me. Mr. Speaker, most people don't realize that the changes that are going to come with the Medicare cuts in this Affordable Care Act may shut down one in seven hospitals in the United States. Now, think of that. In Maryland, that's five or six hospitals. What neighborhoods are going to be willing to say, Yeah, take my hospital?

This is unaffordable. It's unaffordable to our health care system; it's unaffordable to the way we deliver the best medical care in the world to our citizens; and it's certainly unaffordable to our economy, because jobs ought to be ``job one'' of this legislature. And if we really felt that, we would either stop the Affordable Care Act right now or at least delay its implementation way into the future when we can have a discussion about how to do this right.


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