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Ryan Opening Statement: Laying the Foundation for a Patient-Centered System

September 29, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) delivered the following opening statement during a markup of reconciliation legislation.

“Today we’re going to pass a bill that can dismantle Obamacare and reach the president’s desk. We’re going to repeal the five worst parts of the law: two mandates, two taxes, and one board of bureaucrats. These five are at the core of the law—and the core of the problem. Before Obamacare, people didn’t buy insurance because it was too expensive. Now they don’t have a choice. The law forces them to buy it and then taxes them for it.

“Stop and soak in that logic. If you ran a grocery store, would you sell a loaf of bread by throwing out all the others? If you ran a dealership, would you sell a car by junking all the rest? The thinking is, if people won’t make the right choice, don’t give them a choice at all. But the truth is, if people won’t buy the product, there’s something wrong with the product. Only Washington bureaucrats would think there’s something wrong with the people.

“The problem with health care is it’s too expensive. And for too many people, the law makes it more expensive—by taking away people’s choices. If your insurance company charges too much, what are you going to do? They all charge too much, and now you have to buy. The other side says it’s for our own good. But what good is it to pay more and get less? Why pay higher premiums for lower quality? Why pay for a Ferrari and drive home in a jalopy?

“That raises another question: Why stop there? Well, I do want to repeal the whole law—every page, every sentence, every syllable. In fact, two other committees are working to repeal other parts. And this is our best shot at getting a bill on the president’s desk.

“Right now, we need 60 votes in the Senate to send a full repeal to the president’s desk—60 votes we just don’t have. But under Senate rules, we need only 51 votes to pass legislation that helps us meet our budget. In other words, the bill has to focus on taxes and spending. And under the budget we passed this year, this committee is responsible for producing at least $1 billion in savings. These five changes would hit that target. And they comply with the Senate’s so-called Byrd rule: All of them deal with taxes and spending.

“So if we pass this package, we can finally get a bill that takes apart Obamacare through the Senate. And we can finally confront the president with the reality confronting working families every day.

“We would take this debate out of the realm of abstraction—and boil it down to five questions: Do you really think we should force people to buy insurance? And do you really think we should tax them on top of it? Should we really force job creators to pay all these costs? Should we really tax medical devices—the very things that save lives? And do you really think we should turn over Medicare to a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats?

“Not too many people would say ‘yes.’ So why insist on the status quo? Why not work for something better? These bills would be five steps—five leaps—toward tearing down Obamacare. They would dismantle this unworkable law. And they would lay the foundation for a truly affordable, high-quality, patient-centered system.”