A picture of Representative Sheila Jackson Lee
Sheila J.
Democrat TX 18

About Rep. Sheila
  • Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015

    by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

    Posted on 2016-01-06

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    JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the manager, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Van Hollen), for his leadership. I also thank my good friends on the other side of the aisle.

    Mr. Speaker, I now understand what the issue is. We are talking apples and oranges. My friends on the other side of the aisle don't care about the fact that, in 2013, 18 percent of Americans were uninsured; in the State of Texas, 28 percent; California, 23 percent; and Georgia, 22 percent.

    Now we have found that we are at a point where we have lowered that amount and we have lowered the uninsured rate in this country to 11.9 percent. Those are vulnerable Americans and women and families.

    We also don't seem to understand that, when our constituents come to us and talk about premiums, all we need to do is do the constituency service and kind of assure them and show them the direction into the marketplace because, in shopping around, you can lower your premium.

    But the real issue is whether or not we care about making sure that those with preexisting conditions can actually get health insurance, that those in Medicare can actually protect the Medicare system and make it insolvent in 2030 instead of 2017.

    The other question is: Does this bill even have a plan? Is there an alternative healthcare plan that the Republicans have put in the budget reconciliation? No, they have not.

    [[Page H63]] Then they want to take away Planned Parenthood. This is not about disliking Planned Parenthood. It is telling women that they do not have a choice to choose their own doctors. That is what they are doing when they defund Planned Parenthood.

    Mr. Speaker, it is apples and oranges. They are talking one thing. I am talking about saving lives and helping Americans keep their health insurance.

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015.

    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, President Obama aided by a Democratic Congress delivered on this promise.

    Before the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, 50 million people in the United States had no health insurance coverage, with many losing insurance as a result of the recent recession.

    This is the 62nd vote by the GOP since its enactment to end the Affordable Care Act law.

    In 2013, key provisions of the Affordable Care Act began to take effect and have significantly improved the lives of millions of Americans.

    In 2013, the states with the highest percentage of uninsured were: Texas with 28.8 percent; Louisiana with 24 percent; Nevada with 23.3 percent; California with 23.2 percent; Florida with 22.8 percent; Georgia with 22.5 percent; Arkansas with 21.9 percent; Mississippi with 21.7 percent; and Oklahoma with 21.4 percent.

    In 2013, when Gallup first began tracking health insurance coverage just before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, the number of persons not insured has declined by 5.2 points.

    Gallup reported that the percentage of uninsured Americans increased from nearly 14 percent in 2008 to over 17 percent in 2011, and peaked at 18.0 percent in 2013.

    According to Gallup the uninsured rate among U.S. adults declined to 11.9 percent for the first quarter of 2015, but this fact has not deterred efforts by the GOP of the House to end this important lifesaving law.

    Mr. Speaker, this steady decline in the number of Americans without health insurance means that today only about 10 percent of our citizens do not have coverage.

    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.

    The highest concentrations of the uninsured are the poor and unemployed.

    The uninsured rate among Americans has dropped sharply since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which provides: access to healthcare to the poor through expansion of Medicaid; prevents health insurance companies from denying healthcare coverage based on pre- existing conditions; stops health insurance companies from discriminating against women by charging them higher rates for coverage, and extends the time children can remain on their parents' health insurance to age 26.

    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 have rejected this important component of the Affordable Care Act for those in the state in most need of healthcare.

    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.

    At the end of healthcare insurance enrollment for 2015, more than 8.5 million consumers signed-up for health coverage through the HealthCare.gov platform or had their coverage automatically renewed.

    Of the about 6 million Marketplace consumers whose coverage was renewed, about 3.6 million actively renewed and 2.4 million consumers automatically renewed their health insurance coverage.

    The 2015 health insurance enrollment period had 29 percent new participants and 71 percent return participants.

    In my state of Texas 1,096,868 individual plans were selected by visitors to the HealthCare.gov platform.

    In 2015, unfortunately Texas remains the state with the highest health uninsured rate among the 50 states, with 25.7 percent or over 4.2 million residents without health insurance.

    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 the 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 and for all end the attempts to try and repeal this law that benefits so many Americans.

    Because of the Affordable Care Act, Americans are seeing lower costs, better coverage, and patient protections that Republicans want to repeal: The average premium for employer-provided family health coverage went up 3 percent in 2014, continuing the trend of lower annual increase, which means that over the 5 years the healthcare law has been in place it has saved employers over $1,800 dollars in premiums for employee family health insurance coverage.

    Medicare spending growth per beneficiary was approximately flat in fiscal year 2014, a significant contributor to extending the solvency of the program.

    The Medicare Trustee now projects because of the Affordable Care Act that the Medicare Trust Fund will be solvent until 2030 instead of 2017.

    Health insurance consumers have saved 9 billion since 2011 because Obamacare requires insurance companies to spend 80 cents on every premium dollar on consumer healthcare and empowers States to review and negotiate premium increases.

    129 million Americans, including 17 million children, are no longer at risk of losing health insurance coverage because of their health.

    76 million Americans with private coverage are eligible for expanded preventative services coverage, which includes 30 million women and 18 million children.

    Since the Affordable Care Act went into effect insurers have paid customers over $1.9 billion in rebates because they did not spend 80 cents on each dollar of premium on healthcare.

    Nationwide, nearly 11.7 million consumers selected a plan or were automatically enrolled in Marketplace coverage.

    In 2014, of the 5 million uninsured Texans: 874,000 are eligible for Medicaid/CHIP; 1,046,000 are in the coverage gap; 1,756,000 are eligible for tax credits; 1,264,000 are ineligible because of their income or access to employer benefits.

    In 2014, access to affordable healthcare for the self-employed or those who decide to purchase their own coverage became easier because of Affordable Insurance Exchanges.

    In Texas, 1,205,174 consumers selected or were automatically re- enrolled in quality, affordable health insurance coverage through the Marketplace as of February 2015.

    The Federal Marketplace Signups and Tax Credits in Texas meant that: 85 percent of Texas consumers who were signed up qualified for an average tax credit of $239 per month through the Marketplace. 68 percent of Texas Marketplace enrollees obtained coverage for $100 or less after any applicable tax credits in 2015, and 92 percent had the option of doing so.

    In Texas, consumers could choose from 15 issuers in the Marketplace in 2015--up from 12 in 2014.

    Texas consumers could choose from an average of 31 health plans in their county for 2015 coverage--up from 25 in 2014.

    468,797 consumers in Texas under the age of 35 are signed up for Marketplace coverage (39 percent of plan selections in the state); and 348,593 consumers 18 to 34 years of age (29 percent of all plan selections) are signed up for Marketplace coverage.

    Texas has received $1,000,000 in grants for research, planning, information technology development, and implementation of its Marketplace.

    Open enrollment for 2016 coverage runs from November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016.

    There are now one stop marketplaces where consumers can do what Federal employees have done for decades--purchase insurance at reasonable rates from an insurer of their choice.

    There are also opportunities for small employers to form pools to use their collective bargaining potential to find the best deals for employee health plans.

    This Congress has work that needs to be done, and it has work that should be taken up to increase financial security for workers, their families and communities as the economy continues to recover, and 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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