WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) issued the following statement on the passage of H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA).
“Seven years ago, President Obama signed Obamacare into law, promising government health care for all, a fraudulent entitlement that he knew could not be delivered. In the years since, the Affordable Care Act has failed and imploded faster than anyone ever imagined. Skyrocketing premiums, lower quality of care and job killing regulations are just a few of the ways Obamacare has burdened individuals and businesses. This law is not sustainable, and doing nothing is not an option, so today we voted to repeal the failing Obamacare system and replace it with one that offers affordable, quality care. This repeal and replace legislation is a step in the right direction with further administrative reforms and separate legislation also needed down the road.
I supported the bill for a number of reasons:
For starters, this bill helps to make premiums affordable for everyone by providing tax credits. Texas has the highest number of uninsured Americans of any state in the nation. Millions of Texans lack health insurance because they either can’t afford to purchase it or they are not covered by an employer. This legislation provides the uninsured with an opportunity to buy health insurance in an affordable way with tax credits if they choose to do so This bill also sets aside $85 billion dollars for the purpose of providing tax credits for Americans over 50 who are not insured by an employer or on Medicaid to help them buy insurance that they may not be able to afford otherwise.
The American Health Care Act empowers individuals to make their own decision on whether or not they want to purchase health insurance. In my opinion, the individual mandate is unconstitutional. This bill removes that. Furthermore, it eliminates the employer mandate, which required employers to purchase health insurance for their workers or pay a penalty and which has forced businesses to not create new jobs, fire employees, or even close their doors.
Contrary to the heated, false rhetoric, this bill protects Americans with pre-existing conditions by ensuring that health insurers cannot deny coverage to people solely because of a pre-existing condition. As a cancer patient myself, I know the importance of this, and I know how important it is for the 27% of Americans with preexisting conditions. The bill also includes a provision that prevents insurance companies from charging higher premiums to individuals based on the fact that they have a pre-existing condition. The legislation permits states to apply for a waiver of this prohibition through the Department of Health and Human Services, but only if the state has chosen to offer another coverage option, like risk-sharing pools or reinsurance. No matter what: no person can be charged more money based on a pre-existing condition if they maintain continuous insurance coverage. In fact, the legislation allocates $138 billion for risk-sharing programs which help protect those with preexisting conditions. It also allows young Americans under age 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance plans.
Under Obamacare, the federal government seized the power to determine the ten essential health benefits that insurance companies were mandated to cover. This bill transfers that power to the states, who can apply for an exemption to these mandates if they have a high-risk insurance pool to help ensure coverage for their citizens. It also provides $15 billion in safeguards to cover coverage costs for mental health care, substance abuse, and/or maternity care.
The bill defunds Planned Parenthood and redirects $500 million to community health centers, which are spread across our district and the nation. These centers provide important women’s health and cancer screenings. The bill also expands tax-free health care savings accounts for those with high-deductible insurance plans. It doubles the amount that individuals can contribute to their accounts.
This bill gives Americans the choice over whether or not they buy health care, and it provides extensive resources and financial incentives for them to be able to do so. Obamacare has failed; it is time for a new path forward driven by individuals and their doctors, not politicians in Washington. This bill is the first step forward on that path.”