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Tom C.
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  • Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015

    by Representative Tom Cole

    Posted on 2016-01-06

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    COLE of oklahoma in the house of representatives Wednesday, January 6, 2016 Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share my strong support for the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015. Mr. Speaker, this legislation caps a long march by House Republicans to repeal President Obama's job- killing health care legislation, the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). But you don't have to just take my word for it. Since its enactment, PPACA has never been popular with a majority of the America people. The Kaiser Family Foundation has maintained a monthly tracking poll of the law's popularity and only once in the last five years was its favorability as high as 50%. House Republicans recognized this and voted over 60 times to repeal or modify provisions of PPACA. Because of this, eighteen different provisions of PPACA have been considered and passed by both the House and the Senate and have been signed into law by the President.

    The Senate Amendment to H.R. 3762 does three important things: it repeals the individual mandate, eliminates the employer mandates, eliminates the taxes on prescription drugs and medical devices, and it places a moratorium on taxpayer funding to abortion providers. These provisions are estimated to repeal more than $1.2 trillion in tax hikes on hardworking families, and reduces spending by nearly $1.5 trillion, over the next 10 years. As a member of the Budget Committee, I am proud to have played a role in shaping this reconciliation bill to repeal a law that a majority of Americans have never wanted, a law that has taken away coverage that people liked and replaced it with inferior coverage which costs even more.

    In addition to this, Mr. Speaker, the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3762 includes a moratorium on taxpayer funding to abortion providers, like Planned Parenthood, and redirects those funds to community health centers. Like you, Mr. Speaker, I am opposed to abortion and have been a consistent proponent of laws and policies that respect life and protect the unborn. I am pleased this legislation provides for a moratorium of funding to Planned Parenthood.

    Broadly, I do not believe that taxpayers should fund Planned Parenthood. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 217, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which would prohibit family planning assistance to an entity unless it certifies that it will not provide funds to another entity that performs abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother, I have also cosponsored H.R. 3134, the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, which would prevent any funds from going to Planned Parenthood until it is certified that they do not perform abortions and supported this legislation when it passed the House, by a vote of 241-187, on September 18, 2015. In addition, I voted in favor of H.R. 3495, the Women's Public Health and Safety Act, which gives states the flexibility to exclude abortion providers, like Planned Parenthood, from their Medicaid programs. I do not believe it is appropriate to use public funds to pay for abortions and am pleased to see this further limitation as a part of the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3762.

    Finally, Mr. Speaker, I want to take a few moments to respond to some of my colleagues' remarks that seemed to imply that funding for Planned Parenthood was included in the omnibus. Approximately 90 percent of Planned Parenthood's federal funding comes from Medicaid reimbursements, which is mandatory or entitlement spending, and not included in the omnibus at all. The other 10 percent of Planned Parenthood's federal money comes primarily from the Title X Family Planning Program in the form of competitive grants. This amounts to around $60 million in any given year that Planned Parenthood must compete for. Obviously, with this Administration, it seems likely that Planned Parenthood will receive funds; however, electing a pro-life President who will also select like-minded appointees and cabinet members is the long-term solution. Ultimately, even with a government shutdown, Planned Parenthood would still receive the vast amount of the funding it currently receives.

    As the Chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Health and Human Services, I removed all funding for Title X programs that fund organizations conducting abortions, such as Planned Parenthood as part of the House version of this legislation. Unfortunately, we were not able to maintain that funding prohibition or the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act in the final version of the bill. For some to suggest, as they have, that more could have been done to stop this horrifying practice in the omnibus, is simply untrue.

    I am opposed to abortion and have been a consistent proponent of laws and policies that respect life and protect the unborn. Since becoming a Member of Congress, I have made protection of life one of my highest priorities. As stewards of the laws of this country, protecting the most vulnerable, including the unborn, should be one of Congress' highest priorities. I have a 100 percent pro-life voting record and intend to continue building on that record.

    In closing, Mr. Speaker, this legislation demonstrates what the American people have known for a long time: that Obamacare is deeply unpopular in both Washington and back at home. Forcing the President to veto this legislation demonstrates that the support is here in Washington for a full repeal. If a Republican President would be elected in 2016, I am sure this albatross around the neck of the American people would be no more.

    I encourage all of my colleagues to listen to the voices of the American people and vote yes on repeal of Obamacare and a temporary moratorium on federal funding for Planned Parenthood.


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