Rep Honda's Statement for the Record, Submitted on January 19, 2011:
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in fervent opposition to this reckless effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act and put insurance companies back in charge of our health care system, rather than patients and their doctors. The Affordable Care Act, landmark health care reform legislation enacted just last year, makes health care more affordable by immediately providing small businesses with a tax credit to provide insurance coverage, and in 2014, by providing tax credits to those who need help buying insurance -- representing the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history. Once the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, Americans will have access to affordable health coverage in a new competitive private health insurance market through state exchanges.
Many critical benefits have already gone into effect, including bans on the worst insurance company abuses and coverage options for many Americans who have previously been locked out of the insurance market because of a preexisting condition. Indeed, millions of American families and businesses are already feeling the positive effects of the Affordable Care Act, and many more will benefit as the final provisions are phased in over the next few years.
The bill under consideration today, the Patients' Rights Repeal Act (H.R. 2), would completely eliminate the Affordable Care Act with no consideration for the well-being of the millions of Americans for whom it will improve health care. H.R. 2 was expedited for a vote without taking the testimony from a single witness or holding a single hearing on the issue, and there was no committee consideration of the bill, in direct contrast to the campaign rhetoric espoused by the new Republican majority.
Opponents of the Affordable Care Act have used questionable arguments to validate their repeal efforts, including claims that it would inflate the national debt. In truth, the Affordable Care Act helps to reduce the national debt by minimizing waste, fraud, and abuse in the health care system and preventing the rampant growth of health care costs. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, repealing the law would increase the deficit by $230 billion over the next decade and over $1 trillion in the following decade. Now, that is a difficult pill to swallow, with long-lasting effects on our nation's fiscal health.
Repeal of the Affordable Care Act has direct consequences to the diverse congressional district that I am proud to represent, California's 15th district. The Patients' Rights Repeal Act would:
- Increase the number of my constituents without health insurance by 17,000 individuals;
- Allow insurance companies to deny coverage to as many as 307,000 individuals, including up to 40,000 children, with pre-existing conditions;
- Rescind consumer protections for 484,000 individuals who have health insurance through their employer or the market for private insurance;
- Eliminate health care tax credits for up to 14,900 small businesses and 86,000 families;
- Increase prescription drug costs for 8,000 seniors who hit the Part D drug "donut hole" and deny new preventive care benefits to 76,000 seniors;
- Increase the costs of early retiree coverage for up to 7,600 early retirees;
- Eliminate new health care coverage options for 2,900 uninsured young adults; and
- Increase the costs to hospitals of providing uncompensated care by113 million annually.
Furthermore, as Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), I am proud of CAPAC's partnership efforts through the Tri-Caucus and with community advocacy groups to ensure that the Affordable Care Act benefits all of our communities, including the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community -- roughly one in five of whom are uninsured. For instance, the Affordable Care Act helps to address traditional AAPI health disparities in vaccinations, cancer screenings, and infant mortality rates through increased access to preventative care services. Further, new federal regulations on data collection, disaggregation, and oversampling on certain minority populations will help to identify and ensure comprehensive coverage of all AAPI health disparities. These hard-fought benefits for our communities would be completely eliminated if Republicans were to succeed in enacting H.R.2.
Mr. Speaker, for these reasons, I continue to support the Affordable Care Act, as it is vital to the well-being of every community in our nation. I urge my colleagues to stand against this reckless repeal of critical health care reform and vote against the Patients' Rights Repeal Act.
Rep Michael Honda is the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.