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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 45, Repeal of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. JACKSON LEE. I thank the gentlelady for her leadership.

I rise today in opposition to the Patients' Rights Repeal Act. I want you to see the face of those who have been served across America. They are, yes, low-income, some are impoverished, but many are middle income. In fact, there was an article in the Texas newspaper that said, part of what drives the need for health care are Medicaid, expanded Medicaid, which is part of this great bill, the Affordable Care Act, is the fact that people are impoverished.

And so here is what my friends want to do today for the 37th time. They want to take away from 13 million Americans the health insurance that they need, that they were able to secure with rebates from the health insurance companies. They want to take away from 105 million Americans, 71 million Americans in private plans, who have received free preventative services. They want to be able to tell the women who needed mammograms and additional tests for breast cancer that you can't go in and get the preventative care that you need to save lives. Oh, yes. They want to tell 17 million children with preexisting disease you cannot go in anymore and be covered.

The conversation over here is plain foolish. They're only talking about their economics--their economics of wealth. Yes, maybe their districts have not felt the pain of racial disparities which they're going to eliminate if they get rid of this bill. Maybe they are not in one of these States, 10 States like Texas that has 28.4 percent uninsured, along with the Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia and many others, Florida, that have uninsured people who need this. Maybe they'll tell the 6.6 million children that have taken advantage of the law today to obtain health insurance for preexisting disease that they cannot do that, or maybe they'll tell the seniors that you can go back into the doughnut hole again.

I don't know why we're doing this, but I will tell you that I see that lives are saved.

I introduced an amendment to make sure that we didn't lose the federally qualified health clinics. When you repeal this bill, you will dash the hopes of those who have been walking into their neighborhoods, going into federally qualified health clinics and getting the good care that they need.

All this is is spoiled grapes. That's what this is. Drink the wine and leave us alone, and make sure that we keep the Patients' Bill of Rights and Affordable Care Act.


Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the Rule and the underlying legislation because this bill would repeal the Affordable Care Act. The American people have been engaged in a debate over universal healthcare for six generations.

In 1949, Harry Truman became the first sitting President to propose universal healthcare for all Americans as part of the ``Fair Deal.''

On March 23, 2010, with the stroke of President Obama's pen, the American people received this part of the ``Fair Deal.'' This bill did not become law in the dead of night, but in the full process this body affords serious consideration of legislation. There were committee hearings, staff and member meetings, amendments and a final vote in both the House and the Senate before it was sent to the President's desk.

The Affordable Care Act has been affirmed to be law by every means provided by our nation's constitution:

On March 21, 2010, the House passed the Affordable Care Act following Senate Consideration of the bill.

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law.

On June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius, affirming the constitutionality of the law--leaving intact the majority of the incentives to expand healthcare coverage to millions of Americans.

The Affordable Care Act was a central issue in the Presidential election of 2012. The candidate who signed the Affordable Care Act into law won the election by 51.1 percent of the popular vote and 62 percent of the electoral vote.

Why are we here for the 37th time in three years to again vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act?

It is difficult to recall any series of actions within a short time period that have overcome every hurdle that our system of government has to establish and affirm that a law--is the law of this nation.

I believe Mr. Speaker it is important to remind new members of this body and those who are closely watching this debate that the Affordable Care Act is law. People living in each of the Congressional Districts represented in this body are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act.

The leadership of this Congress may want to give new members of Congress the opportunity to tell the people back home that they voted to repeal ``Obamacare.'' Unfortunately, they are also toying with the emotions of people who know that without the Affordable Care Act they have no other option for healthcare.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, Americans are already seeing lower costs, better coverage, and patient protections that Republicans want to repeal:

13 million Americans benefited from $1.1 billion in rebates sent to them from their health insurance companies last year.

105 million Americans have access to free preventive services, including 71 million Americans in private plans and 34 million seniors on Medicare.

Millions of women began receiving free coverage for comprehensive women's preventive services in August 2012.

100 million Americans no longer have a life-time limit on healthcare coverage.

Nearly 17 million children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage by insurers.

6.6 million young adults up to age 26 have health insurance through their parents' plan, half of whom would be uninsured without this coverage.

6.3 million Seniors in the `donut hole' have already saved $6.1 billion on their prescription drugs.

3.2 million Seniors have access to free annual wellness visits under Medicare, and

360,000 small employers have already taken advantage of the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit to provide health insurance to 2 million workers.

Because of the Affordable Care Act 3.8 million people in Texas--including 2.2 million seniors on Medicare now receive preventative care services. Over 7 million Texans no longer have to fear lifetime limits on their healthcare insurance. Texas parents of 300,731 young adults can sleep easier at night knowing that their children can remain on their health insurance until age 26.

The protection provided by this law is a guarantee to 5 million Texas residents that their insurance companies will spend 80 percent of their premium dollars on healthcare, or customers will get a rebate from their insurance company.

In my state, there are 4,029 people who had no insurance because of pre-existing conditions, but today the Affordable Care

Act has provided them with access to coverage. The Affordable Care Act means that many Texans are free of worry about having access to healthcare insurance.

However, the list of benefits from the Affordable Care Act is not completed. In 2014, the Affordable Care Act's final provisions will become available to our citizens. Insurance companies will be banned from:

discriminating against anyone with a preexisting condition

charging higher rates based on gender or health status

enforcing lifetime dollar limits

enforcing annual dollar limits on health benefits

In 2014, access to affordable healthcare for the self employed or those who decide to purchase their own coverage will be easier because of Affordable Insurance Exchanges. There will be a one stop marketplace where consumers can do what Federal employees have done for decades--purchase insurance at reasonable rates from an insurer of their choice. This will assure that health care consumers can get the care that they need from the medical professionals they trust.

I do not believe that the healthcare law is perfect--but what is worse--is the imperfection of the House Leadership in allowing this continued rehashing of a debate over a law that is not going away.

Congress should be working to mend the Affordable Care Act where we believe it can be improved, and not end healthcare security for millions of our constituents. Healthcare is the difference between life and death for too many of our constituents. The bill that needs to be amended or rejected is the one before us: H.R. 45.

For this reason, I offered amendments before the Rules Committee to address minority health disparities, medical payments to small physician owned hospitals, and a plan to study the impact of the healthcare law.

Jackson Lee Amendment Number 1 would have removed all of the bill text following the enacting clause of the legislation, which would have ended this exercise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This legislation is so bad it cannot be salvaged and the United States would be better off without it.

Jackson Lee Amendment Number 2 would have ensured full Medicare reimbursement to all hospitals including physician owned hospitals with at least 100 beds, provided they could produce reliable records to document their claims for reimbursement.

Jackson Lee Amendment Number 3 would have authorized additional funding to establish Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). These centers are the last line of defense provided in the bill to make sure those living on the margins of society--the poorest of the poor had access to reliable healthcare. FQHC programs would be based in clinics, community based health care centers and pro-active outreach programs that target the homeless or marginally housed with information on how to get access to good healthcare.

Jackson Lee Amendment Number 4 would have expanded state use of the Medicaid option of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care law when the uninsured rate of qualifying residents of a state exceeds 20 percent. States wishing to opt-out of Medicaid would have the option of submitting a plan to reduce the rate of uninsured to 20 percent or less to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. This amendment would have benefited Texas enormously since it leads the nation in uninsured residents at 28.8 percent. In fact Texas has held this number 1 ranking, of the state with the highest number of uninsured residents, for the last five consecutive years.

Jackson Lee Amendment Number 5 would have established a program to conduct studies of minority health disparities. The Amendment directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to submit an annual report of findings regarding minority health disparities and make recommendations on how disparities may be reduced.

Jackson Lee Amendment Number 6 expressed the Sense of the Congress that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is law in the United States of America. The amendment enumerated each step that made it the law including a decision by the United States Supreme Court. The amendment then directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to report to Congress on the impact of the law on those it is intended to help. The Amendment would have not allowed this Congress to revisit repeal until it had research on the impact of the law to guide its further deliberation of repeal.

This Congress has work that needs to be done, and it has work that should be taken up to restore workers, their families and communities to sound economic health.

The healthcare law has many benefits--but I will redouble my efforts to mend the parts that need additional work and educate my constituents so that they can take advantage of the benefits of having access to healthcare.

For all of these reasons, I urge my Colleagues to join me in voting no on the Rule and the underlying legislation.


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