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Sheila J.
Democrat TX 18

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  • Providing for Consideration of H.R. 596, Repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

    by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

    Posted on 2015-02-03

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    JACKSON LEE of texas in the house of representatives Tuesday, February 3, 2015 Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 596 a bill to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.



    This is the 56th attempt by House Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

    After 55 attempts it was my hope that this new Congress would begin its work in a more productive manner. We should be addressing the need to eliminate sequestration, the importance of raising the minimum wage, provide universal access to child care, and the passage of a jobs bill that rebuilds our nation's infrastructure.

    Instead we continue to waste precious legislative time on fighting this effort to hurting Americans who need affordable, assessable and available healthcare.

    The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. Instead of attempting to repeal and undermine this law, we should use our time to work together to make improvements where necessary and ensure its smooth implementation.

    Many of those most in need of the healthcare coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act live in the Districts of many members on both sides of this argument. Texas, my own state, leads the list of states with the highest percentages of uninsured residents.

    Those states with the highest percentage of uninsured base on a report by the Bureau of the Census ``Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: Texas with 22.1 percent, Florida with 20.0 percent, Nevada with 20.7 percent, Georgia with 18.8 percent, Alaska with 18.5 percent, Oklahoma with 17.7 percent, and Arizona with 17.1 percent.

    The highest concentration of the uninsured is the poor. The Affordable Care Act provides to states at no cost options for residents to enroll in healthcare programs through Medicaid. Unfortunately, some states like my state of Texas has rejected this important component of the Affordable Care Act for those in the state in most need of healthcare.

    Other states that have not adopted the provisions of the law that expand Medicaid include Texas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana, Alaska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kansas, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Missouri, Virginia, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Maine.

    Instead of focusing on protecting and caring for the health of our constituents, we are allowing partisan games to interfere with serving the best interest of our Districts.

    There are 20 days before enrollment in the online Marketplaces will begin, the House majority is bringing this bill to deter the implementation of this key provision of the Affordable Care Act.

    This latest attempt to prevent implementation of Obamacare would stop any premium tax credits from being provided until the HHS Inspector General Office certifies there is a program in place that ``successfully and consistently verifies'' household income and coverage requirements for those applying for these credits.

    Conveniently, there is no way that this new requirement would be met in a timely fashion because the HHS IG office does not have the resources, staff or expertise to undertake such a certification. Therefore, since the new requirement will likely not be met, the Affordable Care Act will be drastically inhibited.

    The impact of the enactment of this GOP bill would be to delay millions of qualified Americans from getting health coverage. The new requirement would deny millions of our hard-working constituents from getting the premium tax credits they are clearly eligible for beginning on January 1, 2014.

    This is how the income verification program under the HHS regulations works to hinder the Affordable Care Act.

    To get tax credits to make their health insurance affordable, individuals will have to submit their projected annual household income.

    All income data submitted through the Marketplaces will be checked with IRS data, Social Security data, and current wage information.

    If there is an inconsistency between income projection claims and proven past income, the Marketplaces will require additional documentation from applicants.

    In addition, Marketplaces will check employer coverage information from the applicant and their employer against data from the: Office of Personnel Management and the SHOP Marketplaces (where available) as well as other data sources approved by HHS to verify eligibility for the tax credits.

    If applicant information and other data do not match, the Marketplaces will ask for further supporting documentation.

    Furthermore, all payments of premium tax credits are reconciled by IRS the following year. The income data submitted is reconciled against the actual wages and health coverage information on the individual's income tax return. If there is an inconsistency, the applicant pays back the excess, subject to statutory limit. There is l00% income verification and reconciliation on this back-end.

    I cannot understand the continuous rejection by the Republicans against the Affordable Care act when the idea of everyone paying something towards their healthcare was a Republican idea put into practice in the State of Massachusetts by the former Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

    [[Page E169]] Instead of focusing on the issues that the American people want addressed--we are having the same discussion to repeal the Affordable Care Act in efforts of my colleagues to repeal, obstruct and undermine this law. What is even more frustrating is that while there is so much energy in trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, there has been no plan or suggestions posed on how to replace it.

    I want to once again highlight the benefits of the Affordable Care Act so we can once in for all end the attempts to try and repeal this law that benefits so many Americans. 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 pre-existing 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.

    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, not play partisan political games.

    I urge my Colleagues to put partisan politics aside and join me in voting no on the passage of this bill.

    ____________________

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