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 Markup of Health Legislation.
CLICK HERE to watch the markup.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Chairman.
“Actions speak louder than words. Recently, this Committee debated the dangerous Medicare for All proposal, where Americans will pay more and wait longer for worse care.
“Our Democratic colleagues and presidential candidates are advocating a Washington-style takeover of health care – gutting quality health care plans in favor of delays, long waiting lines, and a doubling of your taxes.
“Having Washington take over your life-and-death health care decisions while eliminating Medicare Advantage, the Medicare prescription drug program, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and TRICARE for our military would bankrupt our country, increase taxes on every American, and leave many families worse off.
“I’m glad that, today, our friends instead chose to work with Republicans on commonsense, needed reforms to improve health care for our seniors, veterans, and medical providers. Let’s work together to improve what is working and fix what is broken – rather than starting from scratch and doubling down on the worst parts of our current health care system.
“Which is why I was glad to work together with Chairman Neal on the BETTER Act.
“Our proposal will extend some expiring provisions within Medicare.
“Extending these provisions – while increasing access to services that seniors and folks with disabilities need – ensures our neighbors and loved ones who rely on this important program are protected.
“As we continue to debate this bill, we must find responsible, bipartisan pay-fors – before we bring it to a floor vote.
“Additionally, we will also be considering legislation that will help our veterans and those living in rural communities.
“The HEARTS and Rural Relief Act, sponsored by Reps. Terri Sewell and Devin Nunes, builds on reforms passed by the House last Congress.
“Led last year by former Social Security Chairman Sam Johnson and currently championed by Reps. Thompson and Ferguson, this bill will help our wounded veterans who are able to return to work.
“We know that for Disability Insurance beneficiaries, losing access to health care can discourage them from trying to return to work.
“Currently, for most DI beneficiaries, these individuals have the option to temporarily keep their Medicare Part B coverage when they have returned to work and are earning enough to stop receiving cash benefits.
“But that is an option – not a requirement.
“Yet, when our veterans return to the workforce they are forced to preserve their Part B coverage in order to retain TRICARE.
“This isn’t right – nor does it always fit the needs of our wounded veterans.
“This legislation will allow veterans who return to work after receiving DI benefits to maintain their TRICARE coverage that they have earned without having to retain Part B coverage.
“Additionally, this bill reduces burdens for critical access hospitals – which are crucial for families in rural communities.
“These are all important steps that put the focus directly on patients and their priorities, not on Washington’s.
“And while we are voting on some important legislation today, there are a few partisan bills Republicans hope can be amended to make better for patients and seniors.
“As all of us have experienced firsthand, every single community in America has been impacted by the opioid epidemic.
“Last Congress, we came together to pass H.R. 6 – historic legislation that showed lawmakers were not going to sit on the sidelines as our families and cities suffered.
“But we knew that was only step one.
“This is not an issue that is going to go away overnight, and we need to continue working together until we defeat this crisis.
“The Opioid Workforce Act we are scheduled to consider today, though well intentioned, builds upon the current outdated distribution of Graduate Medical Education program.
“It’s not working for America, and fails to produce the doctors we need. We must come together to modernize this massive program before expanding it, seizing control from communities and giving it to Washington.
“Additionally, today is our first opportunity to examine the Patient Centered Outcomes and Research Institute.
“Created under the Affordable Care Act, this group of researchers have spent some time on worthwhile activities.
“However, it is inappropriate that they are funded through a tax on health insurance coverage which raises costs on workers, and are a direct drain on the Medicare program.
“We must readjust the way this program is funded if we want to keep our commitment to lower health insurance premiums for Americans and save Medicare for future generations.
“Finally, Americans are smarter shoppers when they share even a small portion of their health care costs.
“That’s the only way we are going to be able to do what our constituents sent us here to do: lower health care costs.
“We believe there are ways to improve these measures and make them more workable.
“We hope our Democratic colleagues will work with us to make those changes before these bills are considered on the House floor.
“Improving our nation’s health care system must be a bipartisan commitment.
“We look forward to today’s debate.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”