Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 15, 2013
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 413 provides for consideration of H.R. 3350, the Keep Your Plan Act of 2013. The rule provides for 1 hour of debate controlled by the Committee on Energy and Commerce, equally divided between the majority and the minority. Because the bill addresses a targeted emergency situation caused by the lack of foresight in the Affordable Care Act, namely, the cancellation of millions of existing health insurance plans despite repeated promises to the contrary, because of that, the rule makes no amendments in order. However, the minority is afforded the customary opportunity to offer one motion to recommit, should they so choose.

This is a fair rule to allow us to give some relief to Americans who actually want to keep their health insurance plan but are being told that because of the Affordable Care Act, they may not.

We are now 6 weeks into the disastrous launch of the President's signature health care law, and more and more problems are uncovered with each succeeding day. It seems that the President has quickly forgotten all of the promises made over the past 4 years to the American people about this law.

In 2009, in a speech before the American Medical Association, President Obama stated:

We will keep this promise to the American people: if you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.

At the end of September, the President said:

The first thing you need to know is this: if you already have health care, you don't have to do anything.

Americans from across the country, from across the ideological spectrum agree that President Obama has broken his fundamental promise. And now his attempts to reconcile this broken promise only serve to bring further confusion and chaos.

Today, H.R. 3350 offers a real solution. The bill would allow plans available on the individual market today to be offered in calendar year 2014. It would provide millions of Americans the opportunity to keep their health care plan in 2014. The bill would also ensure that Americans keeping their plans would not face a penalty under ObamaCare's individual mandate.

Mr. Speaker, I have heard from constituents about the problems that they have faced because of the President's law. A Texan from Flower Mound, Texas, recently wrote me about how her insurance has doubled in recent years because of the Affordable Care Act. In short, she wrote me that ``I miss 2009 when our family health care was affordable.'' Millions of Americans, just like this Texan, are losing their health care coverage. They are facing massive increases in their premiums and losing access to their doctor under the Affordable Care Act.

The Associated Press has reported that over 3.5 million people on the individual insurance market have had their insurance canceled. Let me restate that: the Associated Press has reported that over 3.5 million people on the individual insurance market have had their health care plans canceled. We learned just this week the number of people who successfully signed up on the President's Web site for the Affordable Care Act, under 27,000--3.5 million lose their insurance; 27,000 sign up. It doesn't sound like a fair trade-off.

This is not the first time that the President has realized that his signature law is significantly flawed. Since the law was passed, the President has signed seven bills into law that have repealed portions of the Affordable Care Act. Those were laws passed by the House, passed by the Senate, and sent down to the White House for signature, the way it is supposed to happen in a constitutional Republic.

But in addition to these statutory changes that were passed by the Congress and sent down to the President for his signature, the President has taken it upon himself to issue a multitude of administrative fixes to the law. And now this same President wants to, once again, fix his own law? Can we really trust the administration that wrote this disastrous missive in the first place and so mishandled the implementation? Do we trust them to now fix it? Do we trust them not to change their minds in 2 or 3 weeks' time when perhaps winds are blowing from a different direction?

The White House is saying that it will use its administrative authority to allow health plans that it deemed illegal to now still be able to be sold, but this bill that the House is considering today provides a fix that is both constitutional and follows the legal process.

H.R. 3350 offers a legislative solution to help Americans get a lifeboat, a life raft up from under the crushing weight of this law. The bill would grandfather in all existing health care plans so that no American will lose their coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

President Obama is shifting the blame. He is saying it is up to States and the State insurance commissioners to fix the massive problem that his signature law has created for millions of Americans who are losing their health insurance.

His attempt at another ``fix'' is quickly coming to a halt. Just hours after the President's announcement, the Washington State insurance commissioner announced that he will not allow insurance companies to continue offering the canceled plans:

We will not be allowing insurance companies to extend their policies. I believe this is in the best interest of the health insurance market in Washington.

It is clear that H.R. 3350 offers the only feasible lifeline to millions of Americans who are crying out for our help. They want to keep their health care plan. It is our job, it is the job of the Congress, to protect the American people from the excesses of this administration. And I urge my colleagues to pass this rule so Americans will have the opportunity to keep their health care plan.

Let's be very clear here: this bill today cannot fix the Affordable Care Act. What has been visited upon the American people in the Affordable Care Act will not be resolved by this action today. It is merely to stop the bleeding. It is an effort to triage, to stabilize the patient. Maybe then we can get the same patient to the operating room to actually fix the problem that bedevils it.

The bill we are voting on today serves to stop that hemorrhaging, and the hemorrhaging that is occurring is a consequence of the ill-conceived government takeover of the American health care industry. Any good triage

doctor knows before they can fully treat or cure the patient they have to deal with the immediate problems. In this case, they have to stop the hemorrhage of people losing their private health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. That is what the House of Representatives will do today. That is what House Republicans will be voting in favor of. I hope that our colleagues across the aisle will see the wisdom in this and join us.

I encourage everyone in this House to vote ``yes'' on the rule and ``yes'' on the underlying bill. Let's stand with millions of Americans who are visited daily by cancelation notices in their mailboxes. Despite the promises made to them, they are losing their insurance because of this disastrous law.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.

First off, I do need to point out that yesterday, the President of the United States thought that this situation represented an emergency that required his immediate attention, and he rushed a press conference at high noon yesterday to announce his resolution for the problem.

As far as the issue of hearings, I will submit a list of eight hearings that were held in the Energy and Commerce Committee over calendar year 2013 on the issue of grandfathering health care plans.

But the most important thing I wish to point out, for those of you who were here in 2009, we will remember, H.R. 3200 was the Democratic health care reform bill. That bill is now lost forever in the vapor, in the ether. No one knows what became of it. H.R. 3590 passed the House of Representatives in July of 2009. It passed as a housing bill. It went over to the Senate to await further action. The further action was an amendment by Harry Reid late in December of 2009 ``to strike all after the enacting clause and insert.'' All the housing language was taken out, all of the health care language was inserted.


Mr. BURGESS. I yield myself an additional 30 seconds.

As a consequence, this bill came over to the House and we just simply had to pass it. We had to pass it before we found out what was in it. We didn't have a hearing on H.R. 3590. We didn't have a markup in any committee that I sat on in 2010 on H.R. 3590. This was a bill that was visited upon the American people without the due caution and exercise of the United States House of Representatives.

CBO Analysis: CBO analysis is not currently available.

Committee Action: The Energy and Commerce Committee has held the following ACA-related hearings:

Full Committee:

August 1, 2013: PPACA Pulse Check

October 24, 2013: PPACA Implementation Failures: Didn't Know or Didn't Disclose?

October 30, 2013: PPACA Implementation Failures: Answers from HHS

Subcommittee on Health:

February 14, 2013: SGR: Data, Measures and Models; Building a Future Medicare Physician Payment System

February 27, 2013: Fostering Innovation to Fight Waste, Fraud and Abuse in Health Care

March 13, 2013: Obamacare's Impact on Jobs

March 15, 2013: Unaffordable: Impact of Obamacare on Americans' Health Insurance Premiums

March 18, 2013: Saving Seniors and Our Most Vulnerable Citizens from an Entitlement Crisis

March 20, 2013: Health Information Technologies: How Innovation Benefits Patients

April 3, 2013: Protecting America's Sick and Chronically Ill

April 18, 2013: A Financial Review of the Department of Health and Human Services and Its FY 2014 Budget

September 10, 2013: PPACA Pulse Check: Part 2

Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations:

March 21, 2013: Health Information Technologies: Administration Perspectives on Innovation and Regulation

April 24, 2013: The Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight and the Implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

July 18, 2013: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Implementation in the Wake of Administrative Delay

September 19, 2013: Two Weeks Until Enrollment: Questions for CCIIO

Subcommittee on Communications and Technology:

March 19, 2013: Health Information Technologies: Harnessing Wireless Innovation

Administration Position: A Statement of Administration Policy is currently not available.

Rule Request: Chairman Upton (R-MI) sent a letter to Chairman Sessions requesting ``that the Committee on Rules hold a hearing and grant a closed rule to govern consideration of H.R. 3350 by the House.''

I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Kline), the chairman of the Education and Labor Committee.


Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.

Mr. Speaker, that evening in March of 2010 when the Senate bill was finally going to be considered by the House, there was a meeting of the Rules Committee that night. Democrats were in charge. I presented myself to that meeting with 18 amendments to H.R. 3590 that had been passed by the Senate. Every one of those was summarily rejected.

The problem the Democrats had that day was, should we change a single word in H.R. 3590 as passed by the Senate, the bill would have to go back to the Senate and concur with the House amendment to H.R. 3590. The Majority Leader in the Senate, having lost his 60th vote in a special election in Massachusetts that year, felt that he could not pass anything. He could not achieve cloture with only 59 Democrats to vote in favor of that motion for cloture. That is the reason why not one word was changed between Christmas Eve of 2009 and the time this bill was actually passed.

But after H.R. 3590 came back from the Senate, came to the Rules Committee, did it come to the House under an open rule? No, it did not. It was a closed rule. We were kept out of the process.


Mr. BURGESS. I yield myself an additional 30 seconds.

It is hard to feel too sad for the gentleman from Massachusetts when a bill of this magnitude came with so little debate, so little input from the minority. We have got a 1-page bill before the House today. This was a 2,700-page bill that affected every man, woman, and child in this country, not just today, not just tomorrow, but for the next three decades they will be living under this. And it came under a closed rule.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 3 minutes.

We have talked about the votes in this House to delay or to modify portions of the Affordable Care Act. Indeed, the House has passed seven of those, and they have been signed by the President.

What really doesn't ever get much attention are the multiple times that the administration--the President, himself--has changed parts of the Affordable Care Act. If you want to talk about something that was done without any hearings, if you want to talk about something that was done in a non-transparent fashion, if you want to talk about something that was done without the ability to amend or debate on the floor of the House, then let's go through a few of these.

Number one: A congressional opt-out. The administration gave Members of Congress and their staffs the option of exempting themselves from the ObamaCare exchanges that were created by the Affordable Care Act, which is contrary to the language of the law.

Exchange enrollment: The administration extended by 6 weeks--from February 14 to March 31, 2014--the period in which people can enroll for coverage in order to avoid the individual mandate tax penalty.

The employer delay: By an administrative action, which is also contrary to statutory language in the Affordable Care Act, the reporting requirements for employers were delayed by 1 year.

Self-attestation: Because of the difficulty of verifying income after the employer reporting requirement was delayed, the administration decided it would allow the self-attestation of income by applicants for health insurance exchanges.

Small businesses on hold: The administration said that the Federal exchanges for small businesses would not be ready by the 2014 statutory deadline. Instead, officials delayed until 2015 the implementation of the Federal shop exchanges.

Closing the high-risk pools: This one was, I thought, particularly egregious. Mr. Speaker, I, frankly, do not understand why this was not covered by the Nation's press. The administration decided to halt the enrollment in Federal high-risk pools, blocking coverage for an estimated 40,000 new applicants, and it decided, rather than using the money from a fund under Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius' control to extend coverage for Americans with preexisting conditions, that it would, instead, use this money to pay for advertising for the Affordable Care Act.

Remember, the Affordable Care Act was sold to the American people because--remember the quotes?--there were 8 to 12 million people with preexisting conditions. Yet the President's own preexisting pool, which was started in this law when it was signed in March of 2010, was closed on February 1 of 2013, barely 2 1/2 years into its lifespan. Why have we not heard more about that? This was an administrative action to restrict people from access to the risk pools that they were told they were going to get as a consequence of the President's health care law. Many of these people probably voted for the President in November of 2012 because, after all, he was going to provide them their risk pool insurance for another year--until it didn't happen.

Is it any wonder why there is no faith in what the administration says it will do by administrative edict? Why there is no faith in what has come out of the White House? Why congressional action is not just constitutionally required but is required for the people of this country to continue to have faith in their government?

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute for the purposes of response.

Talk about changing the rules in the middle of the game. What in the world was that Presidential press conference 24 hours ago all about? It was about changing the rules by executive fiat. Again, I just went through a list of many of the 27 times that the President has changed the rules in the middle of the game.

What about the times the administration has been engaged in ``hide the ball'' from the American people, from the Nation's Governors, from the Nation's insured? What about the fact that the rule for the essential health benefit was held up until 2 days after Election Day last year? Then the Governors had to make a decision as to whether or not to participate in the exchanges in their States a week later. Is it any wonder they could not make a decision of that amount of import in a week's time? Sure, they were given another month's extension, but eventually, 26 Governors said, I can't do it based on the information provided. Another six Governors said, Okay, but the Federal Government is going to have to set up the exchanges. That is why you have 32 States for which the Federal Government is having to set up the Federal fallback exchange.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 3 minutes for purposes of a response.

The rate shock issue is one about which every Member of this House should be concerned.

Let me read to you from a letter I received from a constituent who lives in The Colony, Texas, a city within my congressional district. They are complaining about the cost and lack of transparency on the Web site:

The prices the ObamaCare Web site say we can expect based on our ages are $372 to $600. But when I go to actually purchase, those prices automatically become $870. We don't qualify for subsidies so that was not part of any of the calculations.

The constituent goes on to say:

It is bad enough the President has lied to us on multiple points--$2,500 a year savings, keep your plan, keep your doctor--but also the Web site is designed to mislead us about the price as well. What is the reason that the ObamaCare site and health carrier sites don't agree? I just saw a North Carolina couple on the news who had the same experience and the insurance carrier told them that the prices on the carrier sites are correct and those prices on are incorrect.

There is rate shock going on in the country right now. That is what part of this debate is about today. But let me just caution my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that the true rate shock experience is likely to hit in September of 2014, about 6 weeks before election day on November 14. What is the reason for that rate shock? Well, we all know that the Web site was, so far, the abysmal failure.

The administration is counting on a certain demographic to flood that Web site and sign up for their wonderful new Elysian Fields of ObamaCare. It is hard, so they are not going to do it.

But people who are older, perhaps have multiple chronic conditions, who are actually fearful about losing their health care coverage, they are going to keep at it. Bless their hearts. They will keep going. They will keep coming back day after day after day until they can finally get through and sign up for the insurance policy. Yeah, it is more expensive than I want, it doesn't cover as much as I want, but, by golly, I will have something at the start of the year. The problem is the demographic that the administration counted on to sign up is not going to sign up.

Beginning about April of next year, the insurance companies are going to begin to price risk. That is what

they do. That is what they do well. So they are going to post risk and they will post their prices somewhere along the lines of July 1 to September 30. Those prices for the renewal of health insurance are going to be staggeringly high; they will be astonishingly high.

The rate shock that is fixing to happen, you ain't seen nothing yet. It is coming in the fall, and it will be unbelievable compared to anything you have seen to date.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 3 minutes.

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind Members of the House of Representatives about the President's press conference yesterday. I would like to read from the transcript of his remarks. The President yesterday, he first talked about the problems with the Web site, ``big problems, and maybe we can talk about those a little bit,'' but then he went on to say:

The other problem that has received a lot of attention concerns Americans who've received letters from their insurers that they may be losing the plans they bought in the old individual market, often because they no longer meet the law's requirements.

It seems pretty straightforward to me what the President was saying yesterday.

He goes on to say:

Now, as I indicated earlier, I completely get how upsetting this can be for a lot of Americans, particularly after assurances they heard from me that, if they had a plan that they liked, they could keep it. And to those Americans, I hear you loud and clear. I said that I would do everything we can to fix this problem, and today I am offering an idea that will help do it.

Already people who have plans that predate the Affordable Care Act can keep those plans if they haven't changed. That was already in the law. That's what's called a grandfather that was included in the law. Today, we're going to extend that principle both to the people whose plans have changed since the law took effect and to people who bought plans since the law took effect.

You know, it is interesting, the 10th Amendment to the Constitution should actually protect the States to issue their own directives through their State insurance commissioners. They didn't need the President of the United States to do that. That is a power that has been enshrined to them in the Constitution. The problem is that power was taken away under the Affordable Care Act. Now they have attempted to bring it back. But the fact of the matter is, in many States, patients and constituents won't have that protection, but the Upton bill today will actually provide that protection.

Make no mistake, the Upton bill is not a fix-it bill to the Affordable Care Act; it is a lifeline that we are extending to our constituents who have lost the coverage that they were told that they could keep.


Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.

I can't help but think back to that September evening in 2009 when the President stood before a joint session of Congress after the August recess and made a statement to the Nation that, yes, he was trying to change health care but not to worry, that no one who was in the country without the benefit of a Social Security number would be included in that cost because many people are concerned that the cost for the Affordable Care Act, already high, would expand unreasonably if that were to change; and the President made a promise to the American people that night.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard a lot of stuff today. I really wish there had been that much interest in improving the Affordable Care Act before it passed the first time. We all know the reasons why those improvements were not offered and why we just simply had to have a take it or leave it proposition that was ultimately signed into law.

Mr. Speaker, today's rule provides for the consideration of a critical bill to protect the millions of Americans who are facing the loss of health insurance that they were promised that they could keep.

I certainly thank my friend from Michigan (Mr. Upton), the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, for producing this thoughtful piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for its approval by the body.

The material previously referred to by Mr. Polis is as follows:

Strike all and insert the following:

Resolved, That immediately upon adoption of this resolution, it shall be in order to consider in the House the bill (H.R. 3350) to authorize health insurance issuers to continue to offer for sale current individual health insurance coverage in satisfaction of the minimum essential health insurance coverage requirement, and for other purposes. All points of order against consideration of the bill are waived. An amendment in the nature of a substitute consisting of the text printed in section 2 of this resolution shall be considered as adopted. The bill, as amended, shall be considered as read. All points of order against provisions in the bill, as amended, are waived. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the bill, as amended, and on any amendment thereto without intervening motion except: (1) one hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the [Committee on Energy and Commerce]; and (2) one motion to recommit with or without instructions.

Section 2. The text of the amendment in the nature of a substitute referenced in the first section is as follows: