Levin Opening Statement at Markup of H.R. 2575 and H.R. 3979

Feb 4, 2014
Press Release

“This weekend House Majority Leader Eric Cantor declared that the Affordable Care Act ‘is on borrowed time.’ Well let’s review what the Affordable Care Act has accomplished on Mr. Cantor’s so-called ‘borrowed time.’

  • More than three million people have enrolled in private insurance through the new marketplaces.

  • Over six million people have been determined eligible for Medicaid.

  • No one can be denied coverage for a preexisting condition or kicked off an insurance plan.

  • More than 100 million Americans no longer have a lifetime limit on coverage.

  • 105 million Americans have received access to free preventative services.

  • Six million young adults have been able to get health insurance through their parent’s plans.

  • Over seven million senior citizens have saved more than $8.3 billion on prescription drugs.

“There have been 130,000 fewer hospital readmissions – meaning not just health care savings but better patient experiences because they are not back in the hospital.

“There is a saying about beating a dead horse.  In this instance the Republican Majority is beating a very live horse. 

“The Affordable Care Act is serving millions of our constituents, with more enrolling every day.  And politically motivated Republican efforts to repeatedly attack and repeal the ACA are only serving to mislead.  Take for example the story told in the Republican response to the State of the Union.  It is clear from all of the news reports that the individual from Washington State could have received a much cheaper and more comprehensive insurance plan through the new marketplace than the one used to declare the Affordable Care Act a failure.

“Regrettably, rather than working to achieve success, it is clear with every new bill that Republicans simply prefer its failure. Today’s effort is just the latest salvo.

“The first bill being considered today, which redefines the work week, would be a tremendous step backward for millions of hard-working Americans, while the second bill is being addressed through regulatory efforts and therefore unnecessary. 

“Even without that employer mandate in effect yet – the vast majority of employers today offer coverage to their workers.  Why? Because providing employee coverage is good for business.  

“The ACA’s use of a 30-hour standard to define full-time was set to minimize gamesmanship and incentives that might tempt some employers to reduce hours in order to avoid their responsibility to offer affordable coverage, or in order to help offset the “free rider” costs that would come about to public programs as their uninsured workers seek health insurance elsewhere. 

“Studies have found that raising the threshold from 30 hours to 40 hours would place two to five times as many workers at risk of having their hours reduced and, therefore, at risk of losing benefits.  The bottom line is that many businesses define full-time as somewhere between 32-40 hours.  While changing to a 40-hour standard might help businesses escape their responsibility to contribute to a healthy workforce, if you care about workers and their benefits, you will oppose this measure. 

“Regarding the other bill in front of this committee today, H.R. 3979, we welcome – for the first time – Republicans’ embrace of a purely technical correction to the Affordable Care Act, a focus that has long been lacking from the majority.  Perhaps this is tacit acknowledgement on their part that health reform is here to stay. 

“Mr. Pascrell, Mr. Larson, and others took a leading role in advancing this issue.  However, legislation is unnecessary at this point.  The Administration has already announced that it will use its authority to take the necessary action to ensure that volunteer firefighters and emergency responders will not be treated as employees within the context of the employer mandate.

“Once again, this Committee’s time could be far better spent.

“There are few more urgent issues that confront us than the fact that 72,000 people every week are being cut off emergency unemployment insurance as a result of its Dec. 28 expiration. That’s the equivalent of one person every eight seconds losing their lifeline while they look for work.

“Rather than re-litigating the battle over the ACA yet again, from which millions of Americans currently benefit, this Committee must finally start to tackle the other vital issues that confront our nation.”