Ranking Member Neal Opening Statement at Markup of GOP Health Care Legislation
(Remarks as prepared)
Mr. Chairman, recently the House passed a bill that would take away health insurance from 24 million Americans, raise premiums and out-of-pocket costs on millions more, take away coverage guarantees, place an age tax on older Americans and if that’s not enough, raids Medicare. Middle-class Americans would be on the front lines of these cuts while the proposal provides substantial tax cuts for the millionaires and billionaires--$7 million a year to the 400 richest Americans.
Let’s be clear: the Republican plan that we voted on earlier this month was nothing more than a tax cut disguised as a health care bill. What’s worse, the Majority chose to pass it without fully understanding its impact on the American people. Even as we sit here today, we have still not heard from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office about the legislation’s impact. This is not the way we should be approaching an issue so important to the American people.
Nevertheless, today we are marking up 3 bills intended to fix problems in the Republican ACA repeal bill. Mr. Johnson’s bill is designed to fix a problem in Trumpcare that affects veterans. But the underlying Republican health plan would dramatically cut Medicaid, a program that provides health care for nearly 2 million veterans. And the President’s recently released budget takes it a step further by cutting Veterans’ programs, including disability benefits.
Mr. Tiberi’s bill would allow individuals purchasing COBRA coverage to receive tax credits. But older Americans are more likely to rely on COBRA, and the Republican Trumpcare bill would allow insurers to charge older Americans up to five times more than younger Americans.
Mr. Barletta’s bill would essentially address a non-existent problem regarding Social Security numbers. However, it would make it more difficult for certain Americans – infants and domestic violence victims - to acquire health coverage.
None of these bills fix harm caused by the Republican health care bill and don’t have a CBO or JCT score. In fact, two of these bills only take effect if the Republican Trumpcare bill takes effect, which we know will not occur since the Senate has pronounced the House’s bill dead on arrival in the Senate. This is purely a charade.
Even if all three of these bills were incorporated into the Trumpcare legislation, they would not undo the terrible cuts in the bill: enormous coverage losses, more than $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid, unraveling of important consumer protections or cuts to programs designed to help address the opioid addiction crisis in my state of Massachusetts and throughout the nation. Everyone in this room has someone close to them addicted to opioids. And Medicaid is now a program that many middle-class Americans rely on for long-term care. Thanks to Medicare and Medicaid, your parents aren’t living in your attic.
Republicans can try to distract from the devastation Trumpcare would do to working families. But we all know better. If Republicans are serious about addressing middle-class American health care needs, they would go back to the drawing board and start over.