Levin Floor Statement on Obamacare Votes

Jul 17, 2013 Issues: Health Care

Here we go again. Another repeal vote. Another political sideshow. And another blow to bipartisanship which is so vital to addressing a whole host of important issues including an issue important to our Committee: Tax reform. Instead of moving forward, once again my Republican colleagues are looking backwards.

The fact is that the President has taken an action that my Republican colleagues support. The Administration determined that a delay of employer responsibility requirements was necessary in order to ensure efficient implementation of the tax code, so exercised its authority.  Longstanding Administrative relief used by Administrations of both parties for many years to grant transition relief.

The Republican response? The Republicans cannot leave well enough alone.  They insist on maneuvering for political purposes. Duplicative legislation for purely political purposes that will go nowhere in the Senate and that serves only to set up their 38th vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. After the announcement, Chairman Camp – in a new populist flourish said, “The Obama Administration’s decision to give corporate America a free pass…while continuing to force average everyday Americans to abide by the law is deeply disturbing.”  And Leader Cantor with hyper-populism said…”the President came down on the side of big business, but left the American people out in the cold.”

Out in the cold? Republican hypocrisy is reaching new heights. Under the Affordable Care Act, tens of millions of Americans will gain previously unavailable access to affordable health insurance. To date, more than 6 million young adults have health insurance through their parent’s plans, 6 million seniors have saved $6.1 billion on prescription drugs and 105 million Americans have received free preventative services. And in state after state Americans buying insurance within the new marketplaces will have access to coverage for less than they pay today. New Yorkers, for one, learned today that on average individual premiums within the marketplace will be half what they are today. They certainly do not feel left out in the cold.

Competition under ACA is working and the Republicans call it socialism. The market reforms from the health law work together to eliminate the ability of insurance companies to discriminate on the basis of pre-existing conditions and gender.   But the system will only work and remain affordable if everyone has insurance, and the law provides the reforms and assistance to put affordable coverage within reach for everyone. 

  • Without the shared responsibility, the law will not work and insurance premiums will skyrocket.  
  • 129 million people with pre-existing conditions will once again be priced or forced out of coverage and we will be back where we started.

Republicans know this. Why? Because the individual mandate was a Republican idea going all the way back to the 1980s when the conservative Heritage Foundation originated the idea. It supporters have argued, “All citizens should be required to obtain a basic level of health insurance.  Not having health insurance imposes a risk of delaying medical care; it also may impose costs on others, because we as a society provide care to the uninsured.  The risk of shifting costs to others has led many states to mandate that all drivers have liability insurance.  The same logic applies to health insurance…”

But Republicans are not here today to act logically or take responsibility – they have never had a comprehensive health care reform plan. Instead their only goal is to score political points.

So we urge vote No on both bills.