“Thank you Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, I appreciate his leadership on helping us honor what our founders put forth, in our founding documents, which is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and that is exactly what the Affordable Care Act helps to guarantee. A healthier life, the liberty to pursue happiness free of the constraints that lack of health care might provide to families. If you want to be a photographer, a writer, an artist, a musician, you can do so. If you want to start a business, if you want to change jobs, under the Affordable Care Act, you have that ability – that liberty to pursue your happiness. And so, that is why I’m so pleased that this week we can celebrate the two year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.
“And I want to mention some of the provisions that are in it. But not before mentioning that the legislation on the floor today [which] is a feeble attempt to unravel legislation that makes a big difference in the lives of American families. You be the judge: if you’re a family with a child with asthma, diabetes, bipolar, has a preexisting medical condition – up until this bill, your child could be discriminated against, for life, of ever receiving affordable health insurance and therefore, care. But already, even though the full thrust of the law does not take place until 2014, right away, no child in America can be denied health coverage because of a preexisting condition. And soon all Americans will have that same protection.
“For the first time in American history, millions of American women and seniors have access to free preventive health services. Services that prevent – that are early intervention to detect a possible illness in a person. 86 million Americans have already received key preventive health benefits under the law. And more than five million seniors have saved over $3.2 billion in prescription drug expenses. Already, $3.2 billion in prescription drug benefits because of provisions in the law that are already in effect. So if you’re a senior, and your caught in the donut hole, you are already benefiting from this law. And that’s what the Republicans are trying to take away from you, from your family, from your life, from your liberty, from your pursuit of happiness.
“The last point about seniors and prescription drugs is particularly important because it fits in with our consistent commitment, from day one, as authors of Medicare in the ‘60s, it fits with our consistent commitment to always strengthen Medicare for American seniors, never weaken it. Indeed, as I mentioned, Democrats created Medicare, sustained Medicare, and Democrats will always protect Medicare – even from language that is so misleading as to make one wonder.
“Republicans on the other hand have voted to end Medicare. End the Medicare guarantee. They have said that their goal for Medicare is for it to ‘wither on the vine.’ And tonight’s legislation is a part of the withering on the vine. It’s important for you to know that if you care about Medicare, if you depend on Medicare – this is the wither on the vine scenario.
“In fact yesterday, Republicans released their budget – which would end the Medicare guarantee, shift costs to seniors, and the guarantee. What does that mean? Shift costs to seniors – perhaps up to $6,400 dollars from most seniors, a year and again, let Medicare wither on the vine.
“That’s why today’s legislation is such a cynical political ploy – and I know that America’s seniors will not be fooled by it.
“Today, Republicans have brought to the floor legislation to repeal what is known as ‘[IPAB],’ the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Independent of political influence over decision that are made. This piece of the legislation was to bend the curve – to reduce the cost of health care in America. Republicans are desperate to distract seniors from their real record on Medicare. And that’s what they’re trying to do today. I say that without any fear of contradiction, without any hesitation, because nothing less is at stake than the well-being of our seniors. Their personal health. Their economic health. And that means their security.
“Further, in this bill, Republicans have recycled their old medical malpractice liability legislation that undermines states’ rights and hurts the rights of injured patients to obtain just compensation. I can put more in the record but I’ll just say this: because of the impact on America’s states of what they’re trying to do in this bill, the bipartisan, and I repeat, bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures has strongly opposed this bill. That bipartisan group says, that after a careful review, it had reached ‘the resounding bipartisan conclusion,’ their words, that ‘federal medical malpractice legislation is unnecessary.’
“Again, Madam Speaker, this week we celebrate the two year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act for what it embodies. It’s about innovation. It’s about not just health care in America, but a healthier America. It’s about prevention innovation. It’s about customized, personalized care. It’s about electronic medical records. It’s about lowering costs, expanding access and improving quality. So much misleading information is put out there about it that it’s important to keep repeating the difference, the transformative nature of the legislation, in fact has already begun to transform the lives of America’s children by saying: ‘no longer will they be denied coverage because they have a preexisting medical condition.’ And soon we can fully say that ‘no longer being a woman is a preexisting medical condition’ where women are discriminated against to the tune of a billion dollars a year in cost of premiums, not to mention exclusion from obtaining coverage.
“And so, I proudly celebrate the two year anniversary and I emphatically oppose the legislation on the floor.
“If you want to unravel Medicare, vote aye. If you want to support Medicare, you think health care is a right for the many, not just a privilege for the few, vote no.”
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