Tierney Speaks on House Floor against Effort to Repeal Important Health Care Reform
January 19, 2011
Washington, DC – Congressman John Tierney today spoke on the House Floor in opposition to the Republican effort to repeal health care reform. During his remarks, Tierney highlighted important provisions in the current law that are prioritizing patient care over insurance company profit and lobbyists payments, ensuring young adults receive coverage, protecting those with a pre-existing condition, and providing seniors with increased assistance.
“It is deeply disappointing that, following last week’s near universal calls for unity and cooperation, the New Republican Majority is still moving forward with this divisive legislation that seeks to repeal the health care freedoms afforded to the American people last year…Let’s be clear: the positive impact that the existing health care reform law is having on millions of residents and families in all our districts is very real. And the law’s important, common-sense consumer protections are very popular,” Congressman Tierney said on the House Floor.
Below, please find a copy of Congressman Tierney’s testimony, as submitted to the Congressional Record. The Congressman’s remarks on the House Floor can be viewed here.
Statement of Congressman John F. Tierney
Floor Remarks for the Congressional Record
January 19, 2011
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
It is deeply disappointing that, following last week’s near universal calls for unity and cooperation, the New Republican Majority is still moving forward with this divisive legislation that seeks to repeal the health care freedoms afforded to the American people last year.
Amidst all of the calls to “lower the temperature” in political discourse and to move toward working together to solve America’s pressing issues the New Republican Majority is moving full steam ahead with an attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The health care law may not be perfect – that prospect would certainly always be open to debate, as would suggestions on how its provisions might be improved.
However, instead of working together and building on the work that’s been done and the progress that’s been made, we find ourselves here today debating and voting on a bill which, while it may pass this House, will most assuredly not become law.
Nor should it.
Some may call it political catharsis. Others may chalk it up to theater, pure and simple.
Let’s be clear: the positive impact that the existing health care reform law is having on millions of residents and families in all our districts is very real.
And the law’s important, common-sense consumer protections are very popular.
Specifically, this misguided legislation would spell the end of a meaningful consumer protection which I and others fought to include in the law.
This protection – the medical loss ratio requirement – holds insurance companies accountable and ensures consumers are receiving the health services for which they are paying top dollar.
In 1993, many private insurance companies routinely spent 95% of premium dollars on health services.
By 2008, in the absence of regulation otherwise, many had reduced their spending on health services to below 75% - even in some instances below 60% - of premium dollars.
That meant that companies would spend up to 40 cents of your premium dollar on executive salaries, advertisement, lobbyists, bonuses, dividends and other administrative costs instead of using it for what you believed you had contracted – health care!
To keep their excessive profits up you may have been charged ever- higher premiums or have been denied care through a number of anti-consumer gimmicks.
You might have been denied coverage because you or a family member had a pre-existing condition, or had coverage capped annually or in a lifetime – stopping coverage when most needed, or as a parent been refused coverage for your children under 26, even if they were still unemployed or working where coverage was not available.
The Affordable Care Act contained provisions aimed at stopping such injustice by requiring companies to spend minimum amounts of your premium dollars – 80% for small business and individual policies, 85% for large employer plans – on actual health services and less on their administration, lobbyists, ads, etc.
As many of my colleagues have noted, this misguided bill would undo many other protections included in last year’s landmark law that prevent health insurance companies from imposing caps on coverage or rescinding it when our constituents get sick.
At a recent event in my district, a gentleman from Saugus introduced me to his two sons. He told me he was grateful for the health care law because both of his sons have Type I Diabetes and now cannot be discriminated against because of their pre-existing conditions. Do you think this father and the millions of others like him want to see the health care law repealed, Mr. Speaker?
This repeal would mean the end of important small business tax credits and prescription drug assistance for seniors.
A woman in my hometown of Salem, Massachusetts told me she suffers from multiple health issues and must take 12 different prescription drugs. She and over 9000 other seniors in my district will benefit from the prescription drug discounts in the Affordable Care Act. Do you think these seniors want to see the health care law repealed, Mr. Speaker?
Many seniors in my district have already taken advantage of the free annual wellness exams as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They are concerned that this access may be taken away should this repeal effort pass the House. Do you think they and the 108,000 others who would be denied new preventative care benefits want the health care reform law repealed, Mr. Speaker?
We could have improved on the existing law rather than this attempt to throw the whole thing away. We could have done something constructive and productive for the millions of Americans we represent.
Unfortunately, that is not what is happening.
Vote NO on the misguided repeal bill, and let’s hope for a return to priorities that help and better serve those we represent.
I yield back the balance of my time.