Recommendations to Repeal and Replace Obamacare
This morning I delivered the following opening statement at a Full Committee markup of Budget Reconciliation Recommendations to Repeal and Replace Obamacare.
Good morning and thank you all for being here. Today, our Committee is considering legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act through the budget reconciliation process.
While the Affordable Care Act – or ‘Obamacare’ – has helped some, it has inflicted tremendous harm on more families, workers, and job creators nationwide.
As President Trump said in his address to Congress last week, ‘Obamacare is collapsing,’ and ‘decisive action must be taken to protect all Americans.’
This morning, we will answer President Trump’s call to action, and we will send a clear message to all who are hurting because of this law.
That message is: Relief is on the way.
Working in conjunction with our colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee, we will not only take action to repeal Obamacare – we will also lay a strong and stable foundation for the patient-centered health care system Americans deserve.
The legislation before us today represents one half of the ‘American Health Care Act,’ which is the full reconciliation bill we will deliver with our colleagues at Energy and Commerce.
This bill – as Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price wrote to us yesterday – ‘aligns with the President’s goal of rescuing Americans from the failures of the Affordable Care Act.’
Secretary Price praised the bill’s proposals as a 'necessary and important first step toward fulfilling our promises to the American people.’
And, we are fulfilling these promises in a very transparent and thoughtful manner.
Unlike Obamacare, where members of this Committee were presented a 794-page bill at midnight for voting mere hours later, the 57-page bill before us today was posted two days ago for all of America to read.
It follows nearly 200 hearings held in the House since Obamacare’s enactment – over 35 in our Committee alone – as well as numerous Ways and Means bills considered and approved by the House.
Not to mention, it builds upon the ‘Better Way’ health reform proposal we released in June – over eight months ago.
The Ways and Means portion of the ‘American Health Care Act’ takes action on two primary objectives.
First, it repeals and dismantles many of Obamacare’s most crushing burdens for patients, job creators, and health care providers.
The legislation will provide relief from Obamacare’s taxes and eliminate the tax penalties associated with the individual and employer mandates. And, without these penalties, Washington will no longer be able to strong-arm workers, families, and job creators into Obamacare plans they do not want and cannot afford.
The second objective of this legislation is to empower individuals and families by providing them – not Washington – with control over their health care dollars and decisions.
Our Committee’s proposals will help accomplish this in a number of key ways.
One is by enhancing and expanding health savings accounts, or HSAs. The bill nearly doubles the amount that Americans can contribute to an HSA. It also broadens HSAs so they can be used to cover more expenses, including over-the-counter medications.
Ultimately, this will allow Americans to save more health care dollars for the future and spend them based on what they want and need, instead of what Washington prescribes.
But the legislation does not stop there. It will preserve and protect health insurance for the more than 150 million Americans who receive coverage through their employer. And, the bill also creates a monthly tax credit to help low- and middle-income Americans purchase coverage if they do not get it through work or a federal program.
These credits, which are based on age and family size, will give millions of people greater flexibility and freedom to buy insurance that is tailored to their needs.
And, with Americans in charge of how they utilize these credits, there will be enhanced competition, lower costs, and better options for patients, workers, and job creators to choose from.
Finally, I want to make clear that the full reconciliation bill will preserve a number of vital patient protections.
Young Americans will be able to remain on their parents’ health plans until they are 26 years old. Insurance companies will be prohibited from denying people with pre-existing conditions or charging them more.
These two protections are under Energy and Commerce jurisdiction, so they will not be considered in our Committee markup this morning. But, I want to reassure all Americans that House Republicans are committed to keeping these vital provisions in place.
I also want to reinforce to all Americans that we are committed to making the ‘American Health Care Act’ fiscally responsible. And, we are currently waiting for a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. As everyone on this Committee understands, this is nothing out of the ordinary for a markup.
The most important thing for all Americans to know is that we will ensure our fiscally responsible legislation meets all the reconciliation instructions before it reaches the House floor.
We are dedicated to getting these crucial details right for the American people so that we can provide them with the relief they need without any more delays.
With that, I will now yield to Ranking Member Neal for his opening remarks. In closing, I want to thank all the Members who helped craft the solutions in the legislation before us today. This bill represents years of hard work and a number of bipartisan Ways and Means bills. Thank you all for your leadership.
Today’s markup is a critical step to providing all Americans with affordable, patient-centered health care that is tailored to their needs. This is a top priority for all Members of our Committee, and I hope we can all work together to deliver the solutions that our constituents want and deserve.
With that, I will now yield to Ranking Member Neal for his opening remarks.