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Chairman Smith Opening Statement: Why Health Care is Unaffordable: Fallout of Dems’ Inflation on Patients & Small Businesses

March 23, 2023

As prepared for delivery.

“Chairman Buchanan, Ranking Member Doggett – I’m pleased to join you in convening this first hearing of the Health Subcommittee in the 118th Congress. It is also a first step in a renewed effort to address the high cost of health care in America.


“Thank you, Chairman Buchanan, for your leadership. Your knowledge and expertise, your background as a business owner will ensure the success of this subcommittee in advancing policies that can lower the cost of health care for more Americans, for small businesses, and their employees.


“The high cost of health care is a painful reality for many Americans. In field hearings, we have heard how small businesses – particularly those in rural communities – are struggling to attract and retain workers, and the increasing costs of providing incentives to do so. Health insurance is one of those key benefits, but unfortunately, costs have been steadily increasing.


“One survey showed 91 percent of small business owners rated addressing health care costs as a major priority.


“While the rising cost of health care has been a challenge for many years, we also know that higher inflation today has also driven up costs. Today, families are paying nearly $2,000 more out-of-pocket than they were two years ago. Medical supply costs have increased 15 percent which makes it harder for independent medical providers to keep their doors open and treat patients.


“We need solutions that offer patients and small business owners greater choices and flexibility.


“In today’s hearing and in future hearings – including field hearings – we will examine the many factors driving the unaffordability of health care and what can be done to expand care to communities who today see hospitals and clinics closing because they cannot afford to keep the lights on.


“But the cost of care is only so important as families actually having access to care. I look forward to both this subcommittee and our full committee diving further into some of those issues.


“We will listen to the American people – including those workers, families, farmers, and job creators we are meeting in our field hearings across the country.


“Through that work, we will identify the problems and the solutions in what I hope will be a bipartisan effort to address rising health care costs and improve the access and quality of care available to all American families.”