Rep. Lipinski Speaks on Health Care Repeal Vote on House Floor

The following is the prepared text of Rep. Lipinski’s speech today on the House floor regarding the bill to repeal the health care law:

Mr. Speaker, we have heard hours of impassioned speeches on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Speeches defending all or nothing, speeches pitting us against them. But the American people aren’t interested in the politics and the posturing, they want us to focus on what we can do moving forward to make good health care more affordable for them without breaking the bank.

I believe the ACA is deeply flawed. That’s why I parted ways with the majority of my Democratic colleagues and voted against it in 2010. At the same time, I know it includes a number of worthy new policies with strong support on both sides of the aisle. Why then are we being asked to blindly throw out the good with the bad, or alternatively, to simply let the law stand with no changes at all?

About the only thing more broken than America’s health care system is the political process in Washington. As a diabetic, and someone who was hospitalized after a serious bike accident a few months before I was first elected, I came to Congress with a personal understanding of some of the problems with our health care system and I immediately began working to improve it. When work began on major health care reform legislation in the last Congress I had great hope. Unfortunately, on balance, the bill that was passed into law was not what we should have done. As I said on the day of the vote, "The bill does not do enough to lower the skyrocketing cost of health care, cuts more than $400 billion from Medicare, is not fiscally sustainable over the long term, and breaks with the status quo by allowing federal funding for abortion and abortion coverage." On the plus side, it expanded access to care and improved health insurance by doing things such as prohibiting discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and extending family coverage to children up to the age of 26.

A few months after I voted against the ACA, at a town hall meeting in Hickory Hills I was asked by an opponent of the law if I would vote to repeal it. I said "no, we need a fix, not a repeal that would take us back to the status quo." He said, "ok, repeal and replace, keep the good parts and make other necessary changes." And that is exactly what we should be doing.

I helped introduce and pass in the House legislation to repeal the ACA’s CLASS Act program, which would have added tens of billions of dollars to the deficit, and which Secretary Sebelius eventually conceded could not be implemented. I helped pass into law a bill to repeal the burdensome 1099 reporting requirement for small businesses that was included in the ACA. In addition, I worked to pass legislation to ensure that no taxpayer money is spent for abortion under the law. Finally, even before HHS formulated the "preventive service" mandate in a way which violates religious liberty, I cosponsored a bill to make sure Americans’ rights of conscience are protected. Now more must be done.

At the start of this Congress, I hoped we could work on fixing the health care law, with "repeal and replace" or whatever it was going to be called. Instead, a bill was brought to the floor in January 2011 which would have eliminated the entire law with no exceptions. I opposed that bill. But I voted for a resolution instructing 4 House committees to develop replacement legislation. Yet 18 months later there is no replacement. Instead, we are again voting on repeal – period. And once again, we all know this bill will pass the House and die in the Senate where it fell 13 votes short of passage last year.

When I voted against the repeal bill the first time, I said, "The choice should not be all-or-nothing, take-it-or-leave-it – between the prior status quo and the health care law exactly as written." But when neither side will give an inch, you get what we have here today: political theater, instead of the problem-solving needed by hard-working people struggling with the high cost of health care.

A Chicago Tribune editorial recently stated: "If Democrats want to save the ambitions of this law, they’re going to have to find a way to write a Truly Affordable Care Act." And it concluded that Republicans "ought to engage Democrats in a real effort to contain the costs before the law takes full effect in 2014."?

I wholeheartedly agree. Let’s stop the posturing, roll up our sleeves, and work to make health care work for all Americans in a fiscally sound manner.

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