Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015by Representative Terri A. Sewell
Posted on 2016-01-06
SEWELL of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to express my strong
disappointment in House Republicans for starting off the New Year with
the same failed policies from 2015. The bill before us today, the so-
called Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, is
simply more of the same. We've been here 61 times before, making today
the 62nd vote to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act. Enough is
Ultimately, we are wasting time on a bill destined for a veto and have many reasons to celebrate its imminent failure. This bill is designed to take health insurance from 22 million uninsured Americans. It would cut the subsidies provided to low and middle income Americans living with diabetes and other diseases that allow them to purchase private health insurance.
It would also eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF), which provides investments in public health efforts to prevent and detect diseases like diabetes and cancer. In the first 6 years of the Fund's inception, $5.25 billion in resources have been sent to states, tribal, and community organizations to support community-based prevention. The Fund should be strengthened, not eliminated.
This bill is also designed to repeal the ACA's Medicaid Expansion. As representative of a state that has opted not to expand its Medicaid program, I know full well the consequences of non-expansion. The 139,000 working Alabamians who fall in the so-called coverage gap make too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to qualify for subsidies. My states' decision not to expand this critical program is having a devastating--almost fatal--impact on rural health clinics and hospitals across my district. This provision to repeal Medicaid Expansion would have a devastating impact on the 30 states that have expanded their Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, including 14 states with Republican governors.
The bill is also designed to take away family planning, wellness exams, and life-saving cancer screenings from millions of American women. The issue of access to reproductive care is very personal to my constituents as some women have to drive two counties to deliver a baby. For women in Sumter County, that's as far as Tuscaloosa, which is an hour away. We shouldn't be in the business of restricting access to family planning and reproductive care in our communities that are already struggling from high teen pregnancy, infant mortality, and STD rates.
While I am pleased to see an effort to repeal the burdensome Cadillac tax and the medical device tax, I cannot support this dangerous bill in its entirety. I will continue to work with my colleagues to repeal the Cadillac and medical device taxes through other legislative vehicles.
Before passage of the ACA, we were spending more money per patient than any country in the world. Under the law, health care prices have grown at the slowest rate in 50 years. This is economic progress that all Americans benefit from. While the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, there are millions of Americans who now have access to quality healthcare and are leading healthier lives because of it.
My constituents and the nurses and doctors who care for them deserve better. They deserve a Congress that works together to fix what's wrong with our health care system rather that rolling back the progress made by the Affordable Care Act. In 2016, we should be a Congress that finds solutions that benefits all Americans. Health care should not be a privilege.