The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at a Full Committee Hearing on Protecting Americans With Pre-Existing Conditions.
Before the start of today’s hearing, Rep. Brady and the top Republican on the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Devin Nunes (R-CA) sent a letter to Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) regarding pre-existing conditions. CLICK HERE to read the full letter.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
BRADY OPENING REMARKS
“Thank you, Chairman Neal, for convening this hearing today.
“Without question, while America’s health system boasts remarkable innovation and highly-trained professionals, it faces many challenges – the greatest among them the high cost.
“Americans agree. In a recent Gallup poll, almost 70 percent of Americans say health care has ‘major problems,’ and nearly that many say rising insurance premiums are their biggest concern.
“It’s clear: The status quo of America’s health care isn’t working.
“When Democrats pushed through a health care bill written behind closed doors, filled with special interest provisions and with no Republican support, President Obama made many unkept promises to the American people – including: ‘[the] reform we’re proposing … will provide you more stability and more security.’
“When it comes to health care costs, the words ‘stability’ and ‘security’ are the last that come to mind.
“It’s ten years since the ACA was passed by Democrats only, and yet health care still remains the top worry of American workers and businesses.
“We must do better. For Republicans, what we hope will happen today is an honest conversation. One on how we can create a health care system that is more compassionate, convenient, and less costly.
“As we begin, there are a few things I would like to make clear.
“The first is this: Of course, Republicans support protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
“We included these protections in our House-approved alternative to the ACA. Section 137 of the American Health Care Act said clearly: ‘Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to limit access to health coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions.’
“Furthermore, Republicans guaranteed that there can be no lifetime limits on health care costs – important if you have a child with an expensive disease, or if you face with one yourself.
“And we made sure young people can stay on their parent’s plan until they are age 26.
“Again, on day one of this Congress, we offered and unanimously supported an amendment on the House floor stating our unwavering support for protecting patients with pre-existing conditions.
“That means guaranteeing no American purchasing health care as an individual can be denied coverage, denied renewal, or charged more because they have a pre-existing condition.
“These protections have long been guaranteed for 93 percent of Americans who get their health care at work or through the government. They should be guaranteed for individuals as well.
“If you remember only one thing we say today, remember this: We must do more than protect health care; we have to work together to make it affordable.
“The ACA is failing too many Americans who face soaring costs, skyrocketing deductibles, and few choices of local doctors and hospitals.
“It’s time for a fresh start. This time with both parties working together – creating truly affordable health focused on patients, not Washington.
“This Committee advanced many bipartisan health care reforms last Congress that expanded health savings vehicles for families, protected the most fragile among us in Medicare, rolled back some of Obamacare’s most egregious taxes and looked for ways to increase innovation.
“Let’s work together this Congress to build on these initiatives.
“There are many commonsense areas where we can work together: From price transparency, spurring innovation, lowering drug prices, addressing surprise billings, and removing regulatory barriers to improve patient care.
“The final point I would like to make is this: What Republicans don’t support, as well as the majority of Americans, is the status quo.
“Many of my Democrat colleagues may want to re-litigate the past today. We’ll be glad to – because the ACA has become too expensive to use for many Americans.
“So expensive, in fact, that twice as many Americans have found a way to get out of Obamacare than those who actually choose it.
“What will benefit us is to focus on the future.
“Today, let’s turn a new leaf – beginning the work folks back home sent us here to do: Make health care less expensive and easier to use.
“We owe it to our families and our businesses.
“Thank you, Chairman Neal.”