As Prepared for Delivery
Mr. Speaker, this year – for the first time in over a decade – Congress adopted a 10-year balanced budget agreement. The House and Senate were able to agree on a plan that would reduce spending by over $5 trillion, save and strengthen important health and retirement programs, provide for a strong national defense and support a growing economy with greater opportunity for more Americans to achieve their dreams.
It is a bold plan at a time in our nation’s history when we face tremendous fiscal and economic challenges – challenges that are being fueled by an ineffective, inefficient and unaccountable government bureaucracy here in Washington. This bureaucracy is interfering in the daily lives and livelihoods of the American people.
The most prominent example of how intrusive Washington has become is the president’s health care law. Obamacare imposes taxes and onerous mandates on individuals, families and job creators. It undermines the sacred doctor-patient relationship. It is driving up the cost of health care with higher premiums and higher deductibles while destroying access to quality, innovative health care choices. It is discouraging work and making job creation and economic growth more challenging – at a time when we are experiencing the worst economic recovery in the modern era.
When Congress passed our bicameral budget resolution earlier this year we initiated a powerful budget process called reconciliation. Under reconciliation, we are able to move legislation through the House and the Senate in an expedited manner and put a bill on the president’s desk. With the legislation before us today, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, we are using this powerful budgetary tool to help end Obamacare’s attack on Americans health care and its attack on our economy.
We are doing so to help pave the way for a more responsive, patient-centered health care system – that puts patients, families and doctors in charge, not Washington.
Under the guidelines of our budget and the rules governing reconciliation, three committees in the House – the Education and the Workforce Committee, Energy and Commerce Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee – produced individual pieces of legislation to repeal major components of Obamacare. The House Budget Committee took those pieces and combined them into one bill, and we have now brought this bill to the Floor.
The Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act repeals the individual and employer mandates, the onerous “Cadillac Tax” and medical device tax, an Obamacare slush fund, as well as undue demands on employers and employees. Additionally, it prohibits for one year taxpayer dollars from being used to pay abortion providers that are prohibited under the legislation while dedicating additional resources for community health centers across the country for women’s health care.
Taken together, the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation estimate this legislation will lower deficits by $130 billion over the 10-year budget window. Roughly $51 billion of those savings would come from the positive macroeconomic effects of what we are proposing. CBO and JCT estimate that the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act would lead to an increase in the labor supply, in economic growth, in capital investment and total compensation. It would also eliminate work disincentives while decreasing federal borrowing.
The major components of Obamacare that are repealed under this legislation represent the core of the coercive nature of the president’s health care law – policies that are forcing people into a health care system that Washington is simultaneously making more expensive, less accessible, and with fewer choices. Nothing in what we are proposing would take insurance coverage away from Americans or their families or preclude anyone from purchasing coverage. We are freeing Americans from government coercion.
The provisions included in this legislation also share another important distinction – they all fall within the limited scope of the reconciliation process. This is vitally important. Reconciliation is not a silver bullet. There are limitations, and if a piece of legislation breaches those limitations it runs the risk of derailing the whole process.
Ultimately, however, this discussion is not about process; it’s about people. It’s about the men and women, the families we have the privilege of representing and who know that the only folks who should be making personal health care decisions are individuals, their doctor and their families.
This debate is about the millions of Americans who have seen their premiums go up and their out-of-pocket costs skyrocket after being told the law would bring those costs down.
This is about low-wage workers – 2.6 million according to the Hoover Institution – who are at risk of seeing their hours cut because of this law.
This is about those Americans – particularly the 1 in 4 Americans living in rural parts of the country – who have found that in many cases their health care coverage comes with such narrow provider networks that they have to travel long distances to find treatment and run the risk of even higher costs.
We can do better by these Americans and all Americans who long for a health care system that is responsive to their needs, accessible, affordable and not contributing to a decline of economic opportunity and job security.
There are positive, patient-centered solutions that would advance the cause of quality health care in this country and none of them require handing over more authority to Washington. Obamacare puts Washington in charge. We want to put the American people in charge of their health care decisions, and an important step in that direction is the legislation we have before us today.
I urge my colleagues – particularly the number of folks on the other side of the aisle who have previously supported many of the provisions in this bill – to vote in favor of this legislation. I look forward to this debate and to moving this effort forward and putting a bill on the president’s desk.