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Brady Opening Statement at Hearing on Proposed Fiscal Year 2021 Budget with Health and Human Services Secretary Azar

February 27, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at a Full Committee Hearing on Proposed Fiscal Year 2021 Budget with Health and Human Services Secretary Azar.

CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.

Remarks as prepared for delivery: 

“Thank you, Chairman.

“And Secretary Azar, thank you for joining us today.

“Mr. Secretary, we have quite a contrast before us.

“On the one hand, under the leadership of President Trump and yourself – and with the support of congressional Republicans – we are making progress toward creating a health-care system that is truly patient focused, rather than focused on the needs of Washington.

“On the other, we have the Democrats’ dangerous and controversial ‘Medicare for All scheme,’ embraced by the leading Democratic presidential candidates and 118 House Democrats, including many on this committee.

“Make no mistake, Medicare for All guts quality health care in favor of delays and long waiting lines.

“It gives Washington politicians unlimited control over your health care. It cancels good, quality health care plans for millions of workers, children, and the elderly. And it’s so costly – trillions of dollars – it will bankrupt America.

“Imagine that you’re one of the 158 million American workers whose health care plan at work is cancelled. Or the union worker whose collectively bargained health benefits are eliminated. Or the single mom who relies on the Children’s Health Insurance program that disappears. Or the millions of seniors in Medicare Advantage thrown off your plan. Or the military family that counts on TriCare that sees it ripped from your hands.

“You used to have good, dependable health care.  Now you wait four weeks to see your doctor and get that test she says you need.

“And since doctors and hospitals lose money on nearly every treatment they provide in Medicare, experts predict that Medicare for All will cause a chronic shortage of doctors and nurses, and increase closing of hospitals in underserved and rural communities.

“While our American health care system does have problems, we should focus on improving what’s working and fix what’s broken, rather than starting over with a massive new socialized medicine scheme that will leave many families worse off.

“As Republicans, we are proud to be the party responsible for creating the crucial Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicare Advantage for seniors, the life-saving Medicare prescription drug program that Democrats opposed en masse and every Democrat on this Committee voted against at the time – and we are proud to have approved America’s first law establishing protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

“We will not stand by and let Democrats seize your health care, your choices, and your control over life-and-death health decisions with Medicare for All.

“By contrast, with President Trump’s leadership we’ve made great strides in health care, including expanding health savings accounts, repealing harmful Obamacare taxes, pulling back the curtain on secret hospital prices, accelerating new cures, and helping local businesses offer affordable insurance plans to their workers.

“Mr. Secretary, from drug pricing to surprise billing, we believe that there is a great deal of progress that can be made this year to make health care better.

“Our top priority is to protect the vulnerable, especially patients with pre-existing conditions.

“Under a Republican Congress, we approved America’s first law establishing protections for people with pre-existing conditions through HIPAA.

“And Republicans proposed to do the same throughout this Congress.

“Rep. Walden and I introduced H.Res. 280, which would ‘require Congress and the Administration to work together to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, lower premiums, reduce drug prices, and strengthen Medicare and employer provided coverage.’

“Regrettably, our Democratic friends blocked consideration of this bill last April.

“Many Democrats falsely claim the Administration is working to weaken protections for those with pre-existing conditions in the courts.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth. Democrats failed the American people in their rush to jam a partisan political bill through Congress, despite Republican warnings that an unconstitutional foundation would undo any progress.

“Now, the Administration is standing up for Americans’ freedom and the Constitution to get this right.

“While the law’s exchanges have stabilized under this President, prices have fallen in many states after having doubled under President Obama, and there are more choices for many families, too many Americans continue to suffer from the law’s failure to lower premiums and offer better care.

“I urge my Democratic colleagues not to double-down on this approach. Medicare for All will cancel good health care plans for 180 million Americans nationwide.

“Many of our health care problems could be solved if we would just work together to advance commonsense solutions.

“We can work together to bring down the high costs of health care, something that Obamacare promised, but never delivered.

“Let’s work on policies that President Trump can sign into law.

“Let’s cap seniors’ drug costs, end surprise medical bills, address the crisis of mom’s dying during birth, help rural communities in their struggle to attract and retain quality health care providers, help more Americans get off the sidelines and into the workforce.

“Mr. Secretary, and Chairman Neal, thank you.”