Fighting Fraud to Protect Care for Seniors Act of 2018

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 12, 2018
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. Speaker, this is the first of four bills that came out of the Ways and Means Committee. They came out without much controversy. The only one that really had any is this first bill. I am not sure we will have any speakers on our side. I will say a few words about this bill in a few minutes.

I first want to talk a bit about bipartisanship. These four bills do have some bipartisanship. Unfortunately, what isn't bipartisan is the basic dispute about healthcare and about the continuation of the reform that we on the Democratic side started some years ago with our President.

It has turned out to be an important piece of legislation--I think historic--and the more people look at it and the more they are covered by it, the greater the support for it.

Unfortunately, unlike the bipartisanship in these four bills, ACA continues to be hit by the worst kind of partisanship and continued efforts to undermine and destroy it.

In October 2017, the administration ended cost-sharing reduction subsidies. That has led to premium increases of 20 to 25 percent across the Nation. In June of this year, the Trump administration expanded the reach of junk insurance policies that have weakened the risk pool, and these policies are not subject to consumer protections.

In July, we saw the impact of this firsthand in Michigan. The administration announced another cut in so-called navigator organizations. They slashed the funding from $63 million just 2 years ago to $10 million. It had an impact throughout this country, and I saw firsthand what it meant in the State of Michigan.

Essentially, the administration said we are going to cut and essentially eliminate help for outreach to people in terms of their knowing about the ACA and how, as millions of others have, they can obtain coverage.

I think maybe most disturbing, last week, the Federal court heard arguments in Texas v. the United States. It is a lawsuit launched by Republicans that could jeopardize healthcare for 130 million patients living with preexisting conditions. The Republicans like to point to language that says that won't happen. But essentially, I think they have their heads in the sand on this if the court were to rule in favor of the suit. I think, to the disgrace of the administration, they decided not to defend the government's position.

So we are here today with bipartisan bills, and it is really sad-- indeed, worse than that. We haven't had a single hearing on any of the issues I mentioned. And the Republicans, while they come here and talk about bipartisanship, which has been so essential until recent years when it comes to healthcare, they now essentially are engaging in very partisan efforts to undermine healthcare for millions and millions of people.

So let me just say, Mr. Speaker, a brief word about this. Mr. Roskam has been working on this for a long time, working with Mr. Blumenauer, and I think the gentleman's efforts to strive for some bipartisanship have been a positive.

As I said at the beginning, of all four bills, this one had the most discussion in our committee and had some disagreement. The smart card idea has been examined by a number of entities, including the Government Accountability Office. According to their 2016 report--and I have copies of their report of 2016, and there is also another report that relates to this--according to that, their estimate was that smart cards would help in only a minority of cases. In fact, of the 739 healthcare fraud cases that the GAO examined, only 18 would have been fully addressed had Medicare used these cards. That is only about 2 percent of the cases.

Also, transition to smart cards is going to be significant, and the estimate is that it is going to cost about $40 million. As we discussed in the committee, some thought there might be a better use of this money.

Be that as it may, this has been worked on, and Mr. Roskam and Mr. Blumenauer have combined forces to undertake this 3-year pilot program.

So under those circumstances, wishing we had more bipartisanship on healthcare issues that run more deeply and affect the needs of people even more broadly, with that caveat, I do not suggest anything but support for this bill.

Mr. Speaker, I have no further conversation, and I yield back the balance of my time.