Today, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing entitled “Protecting Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions.”
Republicans on the Committee made clear that while they support protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, the status-quo, created by the Democrat’s health care law passed nearly a decade ago, is not working for patients and families.
Republicans Cement Unwavering Support for Pre-Existing Conditions
Before the start of the hearing, a letter was sent to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) from Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the top Republican on the Committee, and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the top Republican on the Health Subcommittee.
The Republican Committee leaders wrote to the Chairman:
“Republicans strongly support protecting patients with pre-existing conditions, but we must do more than protect our health care; we have to work together to make it more affordable.”
During the hearing, Republican Members of the Committee further emphasized this commitment.
Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) said that these protections will always be permanent:
“The provision for pre-existing conditions will stay the law of the land.”
Democrats agreed Republicans support protections for pre-existing conditions, stating we all share a commitment to protect pre-existing conditions. Rep. John Larson (D-CT) said:
“With our colleagues on the other side, it doesn’t seem like there’s much disagreement with us on pre-existing conditions.”
Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), recently appointed to the Committee, stressed during his first-ever hearing on the Committee that support for pre-existing conditions is not contingent on feelings toward a single law:
“To say that if you are against the Affordable Care Act that you are against pre-existing conditions is not being intellectually honest.”
Setting the Record Straight
In their letter to Chairman Neal, Reps. Brady and Nunes explained that Republicans have voted multiple times to protect this important provision.
As the letter stated: First, Republicans did so with the plain language included in the GOP health-care alternative that passed the House in the 115th Congress; and again on day one of the 116th Congress, when every single House Republican voted on an amendment reinforcing this provision. That amendment, unfortunately, was unanimously rejected by House Democrats.
The two Leaders stressed that the promises Democrats told to pass their health care law are not coming to fruition:
“Overall health care costs have continued to escalate, leaving individuals and families exposed to high out-of-pocket costs. Often patients who want to access their personal doctor or local hospital find the plans offered in their area don’t give them that choice. The bottom line is the ACA is not working as promised.”
Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) noted that both sides need to agree Obamacare did not solve the problems Democrats said it would:
“It concerns me when we see an increase in premiums to levels I never thought imaginable when we had that vote back in 2009 and 2010. Let me be very clear: many Nebraskans have been harmed.”
Rejection of the Status Quo
Committee Republicans made clear that for the vast majority of Americans, the status quo is unacceptable – unacceptable for seniors, families, nurses, and doctors. Since the Affordable Care Act was passed, Republicans noted that premiums and costs have continued to skyrocket and folks often don’t have the option to see local doctors at local hospitals.
As Rep. Brady stated, folks across the country believe the status quo isn’t working either:
“A recent poll conducted by Gallup found that 70 percent of Americans say health care has ‘major problems,’ and nearly that many say rising insurance premiums are their biggest concern.”
Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX) said part of that is because the current law keeps special interests employed while hurting folks back home:
“It is a litigator’s dream and a patient’s nightmare.”
A Call to Move Forward with Innovative Ideas
Specifically, Republicans said the focus moving forward needs to be on lowering costs for families and seniors.
Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA) talked about the high costs folks back home are seeing, calling for Congress to work together to fix it:
“What we have now is not working. … I’ve got a single mom with two little girls that simply cannot afford to go to the doctor on her insurance plan. … We need to come together as a Congress and a nation to figure out how to drive down the cost of care.
Rep. Tom Reed put it bluntly:
“Bringing prices down is where the focus should be.”
Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) said lawmakers need to work together to find radical ideas to bring down costs:
“All we’re really debating here is who gets to pay. … It’s time for a radical rethinking … to break down the barriers to have a cost disruption.”
Moving forward, Rep. Brady said Republicans are ready to work together toward bold, bipartisan reforms to our system to help patients receive quality, affordable, and local health care:
“It’s time for a fresh start. This time with both parties working together – creating truly affordable health focused on patients, not Washington.”