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Chairman Diane Black Floor Remarks for Debate on the American Health Care Act

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Washington, D.C., May 4, 2017 | comments

Remarks as prepared for delivery: 

Mr. Speaker – 

I rise today to speak in favor of the American Health Care Act – a bill that repeals the worst parts of Obamacare and begins to repair the damage it caused.

This bill brings choice and competition back into the health care marketplace and puts health care decisions back in the hands of patients and doctors. 

It’s been a winding road to get to this point, but we’re here today to fulfill the promise we made to the American people. 

And I’ll point out right now, to those who say we should just move on from healthcare reform, American families and individuals are suffering from rising costs and barriers to getting the care they need RIGHT NOW. 

And under Obamacare, the situation is getting worse every day.  In Iowa, just yesterday one of the last remaining insurers announced that it will pull out of the Obamacare exchanges, leaving nearly all of the state’s residents with no available health insurance plan for purchase under Obamacare. 

And in the few Iowa counties with one remaining insurer, even that company is saying it might stop offering plans, leaving the entire state of Iowa without an insurance plan available under Obamacare. 

That’s happening this very week.  We can not wait a moment longer than necessary to provide relief for the American people by repealing and replacing Obamacare.

I applaud the members of this body who stuck with us during this process and worked hard to make the bill better.

I myself had concerns about the bill as it was introduced. I worked hard to make sure that the bill truly reflected my ideals and the views and desires of my constituents. 

When the bill came before the Budget Committee, which I chair, I urged my members to stay in the fight and work to improve the bill, rather than stop it in its tracks.

Our members did just that, making recommendations that were eventually included in various amendments. 

That message was heard loud and clear by all the members of our conference, who have worked tirelessly to finalize a bill that truly reflects our vision for health care reform. 

Throughout this process, our commitment to undoing the damage done by Obamacare has remained steadfast.

Day after day, my constituents call my office begging us to do something to save them from Obamacare. And it’s because Obamacare is collapsing.  

In my state of Tennessee, families are suffering. Premiums have increased over 60 percent while deductibles are so high that even people who can afford health insurance can’t get quality care.

There are parts of my state of Tennessee that don’t have a single insurance provider in the marketplace, while two-thirds of counties have only one provider. That’s not competition, that’s a monopoly. 

While no legislation is perfect, this bill makes some important changes to help American families get quality, affordable health insurance.

It zeroes out the mandates. It repeals the taxes. It repeals the subsidies.

It allows people to choose health insurance plans to meet the unique needs of their families, instead of purchasing one-size-fits-all plans mandated by a Washington bureaucrat.

And it modernizes Medicaid, a once in a lifetime entitlement reform. Ending Medicaid’s open-ended funding structure will play an important role in addressing future budget deficits and our growing national debt. 

This is a particularly proud moment for me. I was working as a nurse in Nashville in the 1990s when the Clinton Administration pushed a single-payer pilot program in Tennessee called TennCare.

I saw first-hand the negative impact government-run health care has on patient care. I saw costs rise and the quality of care fall. 

It inspired me to get involved in public service. And when, in 2009 and 2010, I saw the same principles being debated and eventually implemented on the national level, I thought my experience in Tennessee could be valuable to the national debate.

In 2011, I sponsored the first piece of legislation that repealed part of Obamacare. And today, we take the largest step yet in rescuing the American people from this damaging government-run health care system. 

I, and many other members of this body, have worked hard to make sure this bill truly reflects our visions for health care reform. I, for one, cannot sit idly by and let this opportunity go to waste.

Governing is hard, but our constituents did not elect us to do what is easy. They elected us to do what is right. 

I urge my colleagues to join me in voting yes on the American Health Care Act to rescue the American people from Obamacare. 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I reserve the balance of my time. 

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