Jo Maney (202-226-2006)
Dreier Opens Health Care Repeal and Replace Debate in House
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman David Dreier (R-CA), House Rules Committee Chairman, began the health care repeal and replace debate in the House today with the following opening statement:
“Today we are taking the first step in fulfilling a key promise to the American people. With this rule, we are setting in motion a process to repeal President Obama’s job-killing health care bill and replace it with real solutions.
“This rule takes two important steps. The first is to allow for consideration of a bill to hit the reset button, so to speak, on the very damaging legislation that was passed last year under the guise of health care reform. The second is a resolution directing each of the committees of jurisdiction to craft responsible, effective and economically viable health care solutions.
“The resolution lays out very clearly what real reform looks like. Real reform will help, not hinder, job creation. Real reform will lower health care premiums by enhancing competition and patient choice. It will preserve the right of patients to keep their existing coverage if they so choose. It will ensure access to quality care for those suffering from pre-existing conditions. It will implement meaningful lawsuit abuse reform, so that resources go to patients and doctors, not trial lawyers.
“In short, it will increase access to health care for all Americans without compromising quality or hurting small businesses.
“The underlying replace resolution will begin a robust committee process to tackle the difficult but essential work of achieving these goals and crafting true reform for the American people. This will be a process in which each and every Member of this body has an opportunity to participate.
“We are returning to regular order. Once again, our committees will be the laboratories, the centers of expertise that they were intended to be. Rank and file Members of both parties will play an active role in crafting legislation, scrutinizing proposals, offering amendments, participating in real debate. Critical legislation is not going be written behind closed doors by a select few. Today’s rule sets in motion a process that will be both transparent and collaborative.
“But we cannot get to that very important step without clearing the first hurdle, which is to undo the damage that has already been done. Last year’s health care bill must first be repealed before it can be replaced.
“Just as predicted, the so-called reform bill is having very real, very negative consequences for our economy and our job market. It is putting enormous burdens on job creators, particularly small businesses, at a time that is already one of the most difficult we have faced. Imposing significant new burdens and penalties, while our unemployment rate remains well above 9%, is having precisely the effect that anyone with any common sense could have predicted.
“Above all, these onerous, unworkable mandates are adding greater uncertainty – job creation’s biggest enemy. Anyone who has spent any time talking with small business owners knows this to be the case.
“While the economic impact is already quite apparent, the fiscal consequences are looming down the road. While the bill’s authors used a host of accounting gimmicks to mask the true cost, an honest and realistic assessment of the impact on the deficit shows a much clearer – and far worse – picture. The Budget Committee has demonstrated that the real cost of the health care law is a staggering $2.7 trillion, once it is fully implemented.
“It will add over $700 billion to our deficit in the first ten years. The words “reckless” and “unsustainable” hardly begin to cover it.
“This bill is an economic and fiscal disaster of unprecedented proportions. The time to undo it before any more damage is done is quickly running out. Republicans promised the American people we would act swiftly and decisively, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.
“Some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have asked why there will be no amendments to the repeal bill. Frankly, there is nothing to amend. Either we’re going to wipe the slate clean and start fresh, or we’re not. This rule will provide Members the opportunity next week to show which side they are on. Once that slate is wiped clean, we can then begin the open and collaborative process of developing real solutions. That’s what we promised, and that’s what we’ll deliver.
“First, we undo the damage. Then we work together to implement real reform and real solutions. I urge my colleagues to support this rule and the underlying measures.”