Clyburn Floor Statement In Opposition to House Republicans' Pay More, For Less

May 4, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn (SC) delivered the following statement during debate on H.R. 1628 (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the Republicans’ Pay More, For Less Health Care Plan.  I often repeat the 1966 observation of Martin Luther King, Jr. that, “Of all the inequalities that exist, the injustice in Health Care is the most egregious and inhumane.” On the day it was passed, I observed that the Affordable Care Act is the Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century. Repealing the ACA would be inhumane and put egregious forms of discrimination back into our health care delivery system.

“My Republican colleagues and President Trump have promised more coverage and less costs for everyone.  However, this Republican plan would allow all states to eliminate Essential Health Benefits, such as maternity and newborn coverage, prescription drugs, hospitalization, emergency coverage, and mental health services. It would also allow states to tax older Americans 5 times more than younger Americans.

“Republicans are reneging on their promises to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. Without essential health benefits standards, protections for those with pre-existing conditions would exist in name only. Repeal of essential health benefits would drive a race to the bottom, with insurers dropping coverage for everything from chemotherapy to high-cost drugs.

“It would precipitate a proliferation of junk policies that have historically plagued unsuspecting low income communities. People with pre-existing conditions – who need these and other costly services – wouldn’t be able to find the coverage they need at any price, much less an affordable one.

“When my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in the month of January doctors told us she had only 8 months to live.  She had insurance. But her insurance ran out before her 55th birthdate, 2 months later.  To keep her comfortable for the last few months of her life, we spent every dime she had spent a lifetime saving.

“We took a giant step away from such with the ACA, but this Republican bill takes us back to that era, an era where people with pre-existing conditions are left in the cold.

“Adding money to a state slush fund is not a solution. If this were to pass Americans would jump from state to state depending on which states they perceive as having the better plans.  Make no mistake, insurance companies would once again be allowed to sell, what could only be called “junk policies.”  This would be a giant step backward.

“Repealing the ACA would once again institutionalize the kind of discrimination against the sick and aged that has plagued hard working families for generations.  Passing this bill would turn the clock back on civil rights and civility.”