Pallone Floor Remarks on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act
Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following remarks on the House Floor today in support of H.R. 1425, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act:
Madam Speaker, as Americans continue to face both the COVID-19 pandemic and a severe economic downturn, they are justifiably concerned about their health and their financial future. Today, we are here to provide more relief to the American people. I rise in strong support of H.R. 1425, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act — legislation that will make health care and prescription drugs more affordable and will expand access to health coverage.
This legislation strengthens the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for the future, which is critical at a time when the Trump Administration and Republicans continue to support a lawsuit before the Supreme Court that would strike down the entire ACA. These actions could result in 23 million Americans losing their health care coverage and the elimination of critical consumer protections for more than 130 million people with pre-existing conditions during the middle of a pandemic.
Sadly, this is nothing new. Over the last four years much of the ACA’s progress has been halted and, in some cases, reversed by the Trump Administration’s sabotage campaign. Thanks to the ACA, the uninsured rate fell to a historic low. However, the Trump Administration’s actions have driven up the uninsured rate. Today millions of Americans are uninsured and afraid that they will not be able to afford the cost of care if they become sick.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act would reverse these trends. This legislation is a commonsense, fiscally responsible one-two punch that uses the federal government’s savings from lowering prescription drug costs to lower health insurance costs for Americans.
The bill does this by empowering the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate a fair price for prescription drugs. This legislation stops the gouging at the pharmacy counter and ensures that Americans no longer pay four, five or ten times the amount people in other countries pay for the exact same drug. This negotiation not only levels the playing field but it also saves hundreds of billions of dollars.
H.R. 1425 will then reinvest these savings to lower health care costs for consumers and to expand access to affordable care. More middle-class Americans would receive financial assistance with monthly premiums. A family of four with an annual income of $60,000 would save $2,000 annually and a family of four with an annual income of $100,000, who previously did not qualify for the subsidies, would save $8,000 every year. That’s real savings to hardworking families.
This legislation also lowers Americans health care costs by reversing some of the worst sabotage from the Trump Administration. It reverses the Administration’s expansion of junk insurance plans that leave patients saddled with thousands of dollars in medical debt. It restores critical outreach and enrollment funding that was gutted by the Trump Administration. It reduces racial and ethnic health care disparities.
H.R. 1425 also builds on the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and further strengthens this important program. It provides additional incentives to states that stubbornly refused to expand their programs for political reasons to finally do so. If all holdout states expanded Medicaid, 4.8 million people would gain Medicaid coverage overnight, including 2.3 million uninsured Americans.
This bill also takes an important step to address the country’s maternal mortality crisis by extending Medicaid postpartum coverage from 60 days to one year. Simply put this policy will save lives.
Madam Speaker, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act lowers health care and prescription drug costs, expands coverage for millions of Americans, and reverses the Trump Administration’s years-long efforts to undermine Americans’ access to quality and affordable health care. I strongly urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
And I reserve the balance of my time.