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Chairman Brady Opening Statement at Markup of Proposals to Improve the Health Care System for More Americans

September 08, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) today delivered the following opening statement at a Ways and Means Committee markup of two health care proposals that will provide Americans relief from failing Obamacare CO-OPs and help dialysis patients access affordable, quality care.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Good morning. Today, we are considering two health care bills that advance two important priorities for our Committee:

“Making sure more people have access to high-quality, patient-focused health care and;

“Protecting Americans from the harmful impacts of Obamacare.

“Our first bill is the “Dialysis PATIENTS Demonstration Act,” bipartisan legislation championed by Congressmen Young and Blumenauer. This bill will help Americans suffering from end-stage renal disease, or “ESRD” – chronic kidney disease that can be debilitating and costly.

“More than 650,000 Americans receive dialysis each year to treat ESRD. Congressman Young’s bill establishes a voluntary ESRD integrated care program within Medicare where these patients can access the high-quality, coordinated care they need. This will significantly improve health care outcomes for Americans with ESRD, save them time and money, and help lower costs to Medicare.

“Our second bill is H.R. 954, the “CO-OP Consumer Protection Act of 2016,” authored by Congressman Adrian Smith. This bill exempts Americans from Obamacare’s individual mandate tax penalty if their health insurance was terminated due to the failure of an Obamacare CO-OP.

“Here’s the situation with these CO-OPs:

“When Obamacare became law, it used taxpayer dollars to create 23 CO-OPs as federally-backed, non-profit health insurance companies. After four years and billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded loans, all but seven of these CO-OPs have failed.

“Let me say that again. Out of the 23 original CO-OPs, only seven are left.

“Hundreds of thousands of American families depended on CO-OP plans for their health insurance. Now, the plans they purchased have been terminated through no fault of their own. And, if that’s not painful enough, these Americans – and perhaps many more, if additional CO-OPs collapse – could be forced to pay the individual mandate tax penalty for not having coverage.

“This is just wrong.

“Through our work on the Health Care Reform Task Force, Ways and Means Republicans have put forward a consensus plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Our plan will bring relief to all Americans from the individual mandate and its tax penalty.

“As we work to turn our plan into legislation, it’s only right to offer immediate relief from this tax penalty to Americans who lost their insurance – or lose it in the future – due to the colossal failures of the CO-OP program. We have an opportunity to do that today with Congressman Smith’s legislation.

“I want to thank all the Members who worked hard to craft the patient-focused legislation before us today. It’s my hope we can pass these bills with the strong, bipartisan support they deserve.”