Dingell Calls Today's Mark-up a Manifestation of Mischief

Date: April 5, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Today, Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI15) made the following opening statement at the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Full Committee Markup on H.R. 1213 - H.R. 1217:

"Today's mark-up serves as yet another opportunity for the Majority to strike away at the heart of the Affordable Care Act through its public health programs and the State Based Exchange Grants. These attempts to defund or convert pieces of the Affordable Care Act seem contrary to what my colleagues in the Majority claim to be for.

"They say they are for improving the nation's public health -- yet they are going to repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which would make a national investment into innovative prevention and public wellness activities.

"They claim to support School-Based Health Centers -- yet they are going to repeal the construction and renovation funds, which serve as the first major investment into these Centers.

"They claim to want to allow States to address the needs and challenges of their individual populations -- yet they are going to repeal the State Based Exchange Grants, which will help the States to set up Exchanges that will best work for them.

"In the Subcommittee we heard time and again about their purported outrage over the fact that these programs - the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the Teaching Health Centers, the Personal Responsibility Education Programs, the School-Based Health Center Construction grants, and the State Exchange grants -- were mandatory in nature. Yet there have been numerous pieces of legislation that have come before the Members of this Committee that have included both mandatory and discretionary streams of funding. This is not a debate that is new or unique to the Affordable Care Act.

"I do not believe that today's mark-up will produce any piece of substantive legislation that will truly improve or contribute to the nation's public health or the well-being of American families. If today's mark-up was a test for our nation's health system, the Majority would be erasing the answer sheet and then leaving it blank for lack of a better solution. The American public demands more than no solution at all.

"More importantly, the American families are tired of fighting in Washington. They deserve more than a rehash of last Congress's debate. They want to know how they will benefit from the changes to our health system laid out in the Affordable Care Act, and it is our duty as their Members of Congress to provide them with these answers.

"The Affordable Care Act includes some of the strongest consumer protections in our health system in years. Insurance companies can no longer make health decisions for families, cancer patients can no longer be denied health insurance due to a pre-existing condition, seniors now have help affording their prescription, and college students are allowed to stay on their parents health insurance plans.

"This is legislating at its best -- protecting consumers from abuses in industry, helping to lower the costs of health care, and ultimately offering real solutions to problems families are facing every day. We all want health care coverage that is more affordable and covers the uninsured and the underinsured, and rather than spend our time in the Committee show-boating, let's work to improve the situations of American families across the country."