Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act

Floor Speech

Date: Jan. 19, 2011
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. TIERNEY. Mr. Speaker, it is deeply disappointing that, following last week's near universal calls for unity and cooperation and amidst all of the calls to lower the temperature of political discourse and to move to working together to solve America's pressing issues, the new Republican majority is moving full steam ahead with an attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The health care law may not be perfect--that prospect would always certainly be open to debate and suggestions on how it might be improved might also be open to debate--but instead of working together and building on the work that has been done and the progress that has been made, we find ourselves here today, debating and voting on a bill, which, while it may pass the House, most certainly will never become law--nor should it.

Some may call it political catharsis. Others may call it pure theater, plain and simple; but let's be clear: the positive impact the existing health care reform law is having on millions of residents and families in all of our districts is very real, and the law's important, commonsense consumer protections are very popular.

Specifically, this misguided legislation will spell the end of one meaningful consumer protection which I and others fought to get into the law. This protection, the medical loss ratio requirement, holds insurance companies accountable and ensures consumers are receiving the health services for which they are paying top dollar.

In 1993, many private companies routinely spent 95 cents of every dollar on health services. By 2008, in the absence of regulation otherwise, many had reduced their spending on health services to below 75 percent, some to even less than 60 percent of those premium dollars. That meant that companies could spend up to 43 cents of your premium dollar on executive salaries, advertising, lobbyists, bonuses, dividends, and other administrative costs instead of using it for what you had contracted for--health care.

To keep their excessive profits up, you may have been charged ever-higher premiums or may have been denied care through a number of anticonsumer gimmicks. You might have been denied coverage because you or your family member had a preexisting condition or because you had coverage capped annually or in a lifetime, stopping coverage when it was most needed, or, as a parent, you were refused coverage for your children under 26 even if they were still unemployed or were working someplace where coverage wasn't available.

All of these injustices are addressed in the bill. Its repeal would reverse that. I ask that this misguided bill fail, and I ask my colleagues to vote against it.