By Bryant Daniels, Director of Public Affairs, Office of Eliot Engel
Mar. 8, 2017: Congressman Eliot L. Engel, a top member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released the following statement last week regarding House Republicans' plan to force their health care agenda through the Energy and Commerce Committee:
"New reports tell us that House Republicans plan to push their clandestine 'replacement' for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the Energy and Commerce Committee this week.
"As of today, neither the public nor a single Democratic member of the committee has had an opportunity to even see the Republican bill – let alone assess the full impact it would have on the American people and our economy.
Before enacting the ACA, Democrats held 79 hearings and markups over two years. In contrast, Republicans have chosen to hide their draft in a basement. If they were proud of their efforts, they’d be out there championing them. But that’s far from the case.
“It’s not hard to guess why. First, after seven years of promises, Republicans have been astoundingly incapable of forming a consensus within their own party as to how to act on the ACA. But, most importantly, the GOP is embarrassed to reveal just how inadequate their proposal is in comparison to the ACA’s achievements.
“Here are some successes just in my congressional district (NY-16) that Republicans are putting at risk:
78,700 individuals in the district who are covered by the ACA’s Medicaid expansion now stand to lose coverage if Republicans eliminate the expansion. In addition, 21,900 individuals who have purchased Marketplace coverage now stand to lose their coverage if the GOP dismantles the Marketplaces.
421,800 people with employer-sponsored health insurance are at risk of losing important consumer protections, like the prohibition on annual and lifetime limits.
371,000 people who now have health insurance that covers preventive services, like cancer screenings and flu shots, without any co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles stand to lose this access if Republicans eliminate ACA provisions requiring health insurers to cover important preventive services without cost-sharing.
“These ramifications aren’t limited to the health care sector. Repeal would cause New York to lose 130,700 jobs in 2019 alone. The U.S. overall would lose 2.6 million jobs. In addition, repealing the ACA would shrink New York’s economic output by more than $89 billion from 2019 to 2023.
“And the outlook isn’t just grim for New York. In fact, every single Congressional district’s uninsured rate has dropped since the ACA went into effect – meaning, every Republican Member of Congress that votes to repeal is voting to erase gains in his or her own district.
“Given this bleak forecast, it’s no surprise that Republicans are hiding their bill from view. What is surprising, though, is the about-face Republican members have made since Congress considered the ACA.
“Members who once decried any negotiations they felt were hasty or opaque have been silent on their leadership’s refusal to share drafts publicly. During the 111th Congress, Democrats posted the original ACA text online a full month prior to the first committee markup – because that is the openness our constituents deserve.
“I joined my Democratic colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee in calling on Chairman Greg Walden to post the text of their repeal bill at least 30 days before moving to a markup. At a very minimum, Republicans ought to afford their colleagues – and their constituents – that courtesy.”
Photo courtesy Office of Eliot Engel