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Congressman Bobby Scott

Representing the 3rd District of Virginia

SPECIAL ORDER ON REPEAL OF THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

March 7, 2017
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I don't blame the gentleman. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the Affordable Care Act. As we discuss this, as he has indicated, it helps a little bit to talk about what the situation was before the Affordable Care Act passed.

   We knew that costs were going through the roof. We knew that those with preexisting conditions, if they could get insurance, would have to pay a lot more for that insurance. We knew that women were paying more for insurance than men. We knew that millions of people every year were losing insurance. That is what was going on before.

   People talk about small businesses. Well, small businesses had trouble getting insurance because if they had a person with a chronic illness, it would be unlikely that they could afford small-business insurance. But now, the costs have continued to go up, but they have gone up at half the rate they were going up before.

   Those with preexisting conditions can now get insurance at the average rate. Women are no longer paying more than men. And 20 million more people have insurance, not millions of people losing insurance every year, 20 million more people have insurance.

   Now, the full name of the Affordable Care Act is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. There are certain protections, like insurance companies can't cut you off after they have paid a certain amount. There are no more caps. They can't rescind your policy. After you get sick, they can't just decide not to renew your policy. There is no copay or deductible for prevention and cancer screening. We are closing the doughnut hole. The average senior has saved already about $1,000 because of the Affordable Care Act support for closing the doughnut hole. Those under age 26 can stay on their parents' policies. Those are some of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

   Now, we didn't solve all of the problems. There are still problems. But if we are going to change the Affordable Care Act, we ought to improve the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, the bill that was introduced in the middle of the night fails on a number of areas.

   Now, we would know precisely how bad a bill it is if they would wait a couple of days for the CBO to score the bill. It would point out all of the flaws. But there are just a couple.

   One is just a fundamental principle that it purports to cover preexisting conditions without a mandate for coverage. We know that if you allow people to wait until they get sick before they buy insurance, people will wait until they get sick before they buy insurance. The average insurance pool is sicker, more expensive. Healthy people drop out, and the thing spirals out of control. We don't have to speculate how this works because we know.

   New York State tried it, and the cost went up so much that when the Affordable Care Act came in with a mandate, the cost for individual insurance dropped more than 50 percent. Washington State tried it. It got so bad that by the time it got going a couple of years, nobody could buy insurance. Nobody could buy insurance in the individual market. So we know what happens when you try to cover people with preexisting conditions without a mandate.

   So this plan, when it starts off with that policy, we know it is bound to fail.

   We also noticed another flaw: that it saves money by allowing people to purchase insurance that doesn't cover everything. We have people buying insurance now that have to buy the basic essential benefits package. When you can start picking and choosing, you might save a little money, but things like maternity care, if that becomes an optional coverage, then anybody that wants that will not be able to afford it.

   It will cost whatever it costs to have a baby. They just have to pay the bill. They might as well not have insurance. So that is because, if anybody purchases maternity insurance, it is because they expect to have a baby in the coming year, and it becomes unaffordable. If everybody pays the average, everybody pays everything, then everybody can afford the maternity coverage.

   So allowing people to pick and choose what they want, that might help a few, but those that need that coverage won't be able to afford it.

   A final flaw, as the gentleman pointed out, is massive tax cuts. Well, when you reduce the revenue available, two things happen: there is less support for Medicaid, and there is less support for people in paying their premiums. So in the fullness of time, fewer people will be insured; and so you have a plan with fewer people insured, watered-down benefits, and a plan that is ultimately going to fail.

   That is not an improvement. If we are going to deal with the Affordable Care Act, we ought to have an improvement; and until we have an actual improvement, we ought to leave the Affordable Care Act alone.

   I am delighted to be here discussing the Affordable Care Act with the gentleman, warning people that, if they go forward without a Congressional Budget Office evaluation so they know what is going on, we may have a plan that is a lot worse than even before the Affordable Care Act.

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