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Chairman Black's Opening Remarks on Obamacare Repeal Debate

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Washington, D.C., January 13, 2017 | Ryan Murphy, William Allison (202-226-6100) | comments
WASHINGTON, D.C. - House Budget Committee Interim Chairman Diane Black (TN-06) delivered the following remarks on the House floor this morning during debate on a resolution that will pave the way for repeal of Obamacare.

As prepared for delivery:

Mr. Speaker-

I rise today to speak on behalf of Americans everywhere who are hurting because of Obamacare. They are calling out for relief from this disastrous law, and Republicans are here today to begin delivering on our promise to provide that relief.

Now we’ll hear plenty of claims from the other side of the aisle during this debate, but let’s be clear – Obamacare has failed, and it’s only going to get worse. Patients have seen skyrocketing premiums and deductibles, lost access to the doctors they preferred, had fewer coverage options, while others have had their plans cancelled outright.

It’s no wonder so many people have rejected this law. In 2015, roughly 8 million Americans paid the Obamacare penalty and more than 12 million claimed an exemption from the penalty. That’s 20 million Americans. What does it say about this law when 20 million Americans want nothing to do with it – many preferring to pay a penalty rather than be subjected to its higher costs and fewer choices?

If you ask me, it’s strong evidence that the American people are tired of paying more and getting less.

Of course, the destruction that Obamacare has caused extends beyond discouraging individuals to purchase coverage. It has been a direct attack on those who had insurance already. In my home state of Tennessee, 28,000 people lost coverage on a single day when the CoverTN program lapsed after the Obama Administration decreed that it ran afoul of the federal government’s top down requirements.

Now, premiums in our state are rising by an average of 63 percent, and three-fourths of our counties only have one coverage option to choose from on the Obamacare exchange. In five other states around the country – Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming – patients only have one insurer in the marketplace to choose from. That makes it pretty difficult for someone to find a plan that meets their unique needs or that of their family.

President Obama promised that this law would lower premiums by $2,500 per year for the average family. The exact opposite has happened. Average family premiums have gone up by $4,300 and deductibles have gone up 60%. This is hitting hard-working Americans —many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet. Folks in Tennessee and all across this country are spending more and more money on health insurance because of Obamacare when they’d rather be saving for a new house or their children’s college. The last thing working men and women right now need is the federal government making their life harder with more expensive health insurance by continuing to support this failed law.

That’s why we are here today. The Senate successfully passed this resolution yesterday, and now it’s time for the House to deliver on our promise by kick-starting the reconciliation process so we can repeal Obamacare, provide relief for folks hurting because of the law.

While our friends on the other side of the aisle always claim that Republicans have no ideas or plans to replace Obamacare, that’s simply isn’t true and they know it. I have with me here today a few examples including the House Republican Better Way – a 37 page proposal that will provide access to care for all Americans and increase choice and competition. And we’ve got plans from Paul Ryan, Dr. Tom Price, and Dr. Phil Roe. These are all patient-centered solutions which Republicans have been offering for years.

I urge all my college to vote “YES” on this resolution to begin the process of repealing Obamacare and paving the way for patient-centered reforms.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
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