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Chairman Brady Opening Statement at Markup of Legislation to Further Expand Health Care Options for Americans

May 24, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) today delivered the following opening statement at a Committee markup to further expand health care options for Americans.

CLICK HERE to watch the markup.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Good morning and welcome to today’s markup. Today our Committee is moving forward with our efforts to repeal Obamacare and replace the failing law with patient-centered solutions. 

“As we have said throughout this effort, repealing and replacing Obamacare must be done through a step by step process.

“With the House passage of the American Health Care Act, we are well on our way to providing Americans with relief from Obamacare and a 21st century health care system that puts patients and families in control—not Washington.

“As the Senate now considers the AHCA, we are pushing forward on a parallel track to advance legislation that protects and expands Americans’ access to patient-centered care. Today, our Committee will consider three bills that all focus on this important goal. 

“Our first bill is H.R. 2372, the VETERAN Act sponsored by Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson. 

“This legislation takes important action to ensure continued access to private health insurance options for the men and women who—like Mr. Johnson himself —have served and sacrificed in defense of our great nation. 

“The bill puts into law an existing regulation which allows veterans who are eligible for—but not enrolled in—VA health care to access tax credits offered under current law and the tax credits provided by the AHCA when they take effect.

“This will provide our veterans with financial support and greater flexibility to access health plans that best meet their needs.

“Our second bill today is H.R. 2579, the Broader Options for Americans Act sponsored by Health Subcommittee Chairman Pat Tiberi. This bill expands financial support for the purchase of health insurance for certain Americans who have lost their group coverage, often because they have lost their job.

“It does so by allowing these Americans who are eligible for COBRA continuation coverage—who face higher costs and no direct financial support from their employer—to access the AHCA’s tax credits. Additionally, it ensures that Americans who have similar coverage and work at churches or other houses of worship can access these credits.

“Finally, we have H.R. 2581, the Verify First Act sponsored by Congressman Lou Barletta. This legislation takes important action to protect taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud, and abuse. It prevents the AHCA’s monthly tax credits and Obamacare’s current subsidies from being dispensed until the legal status of an eligible recipient can be verified.

“The Verify First Act strengthens existing verification tools by making a commonsense change. Rather than sending the money first and checking legal status later—which Obamacare does now—it verifies legal status up front. 

“As we’ve seen with so many federal programs, it’s all but impossible to get fraudulently-claimed money back after it’s already out the door. The best solution is to stop waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars before it occurs—and that’s what this bill does.

“I want to thank all of the Members who crafted the legislation before us today. These are important solutions that will expand access to care for the American people and safeguard taxpayer dollars. And I hope they will receive the bipartisan support they deserve today. 

“With that, I’ll now yield to Ranking Member Neal for his opening remarks.”