WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joined Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic leaders on a conference call to discuss the Affordable Care Act this afternoon. Below is a transcript of his opening remarks and his responses during the question and answer portion of the call:
“Thank you very much, Leader. I appreciate your convening this call and including our leadership on there; the three committees are so relevant to what the Republicans are trying to do.
“Six years ago, January 2011, the Republicans took over the House and have tried to repeal, immediately, the Affordable Care Act ever since.
“Of course, if the ACA were to be repealed, not only as it was pointed out, would tens of millions of Americans lose their coverage – tens of millions of others would see their health care costs skyrocket. I know that Mr. [Richard] Neal, Mr. [Frank] Pallone, and Mr. [Bobby] Scott are going to speak to that.
“According to the Tax Policy Center, repealing the ACA would significantly raise taxes for around seven million Americans, who would lose their tax credits to purchase insurance through the marketplace—a devastating effect for them.
“And according to the Brookings Institution, repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase premiums by 20 percent or more. That’s a startling figure, and Republicans, I’m sure, won’t speak to that.
“Republicans’ so-called ‘repeal-and-delay’ plan is code for ‘repeal-without-an-alterative.’ Again, six years demanding immediate repeal and no alternative to replace it.
“The truth is, they don’t have one, and their plan is simply to turn back the clock. ‘Make American unhealthy again’ perhaps.
“I heard recently through social media from a woman whose family was able to save more than $1,200 a month, and that’s a month, in other words almost $15,000 a year, because of the availability of the health insurance marketplace.
“Another wrote to tell me that the ACA made it possible for her to sign up for coverage for the first time in years since she lost her job. Her name was Ann and her employer-based insurance lapsed when she lost her job, and when she needed to be hospitalized this spring for three days, having coverage, she says ‘saved her life.’
“Democrats will not sit idly by and watch the Affordable Care Act be dismantled and tens of millions lose their insurance and protections. And the challenge and risk it will put Medicaid and Medicare to as well. But importantly, it will increase the premiums of almost every American for the insurance they have now through their employers.
“We’re going to fight as hard as ever to protect the ACA and make sure hardworking Americans, and their families, are not forced to choose between paying for health care and paying for heat in their home, paying for food, and other absolutely essential items.
“Thank you, Leader, again, and I look forward to hearing from Mr. Neal, who is the new Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee.”
“We believe that was a very essential piece of legislation that was passed to the benefit of all Americans, including those who have employer-based insurance. The fact is that we should have been working for the past years to make sure that it works as best as it possibly can because health care coverage is not an option for all Americans. So yes, it’s a priority for us from that perspective. There are many other priorities, which the Leader just mentioned and which we will pay attention to as well.”
“Let me make three quick points. We are defending a policy that over 2.8 million Americans supported the candidate who wanted this than supported the candidate who won. The candidate didn’t win. It doesn’t mean that Trump is not going to be president, but it does mean that more Americans voted for this policy than voted against it. Number two, there was an interesting story that was written, I think it was about a Kentucky community that voted, like 80 percent for Trump. And they interviewed a number of people, and one woman in particular said, ‘Oh I don’t expect anybody to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I’m on that Act and it’s absolutely essential for me and my family.’ So I think that in our defense, a lot of people are going to be looking at this and saying, ‘Gee I didn’t really think they meant that,’ any more than they want to see Social Security privatized or voucherized. They may have voted for Trump, but if they try to do either one of those things, they are going to say to themselves, ‘That’s not what I meant.’ That’s exactly what happened in 1995, as [Newt] Gingrich and company shut down the government. The American people said, ‘that’s not what I meant.’ And after that, we picked up seats, as you recall. So we are defending a policy that we believe the majority of the American public believes is an important benefit for them and their families, to make America stronger and their families stronger.”
“Let me add that this a very cynical political approach, ‘repeal-and-delay.’ It’s essentially an admission that what they’ve been trying to do for the last six years will be very detrimental and will not only have extraordinarily adverse health effects on the American people, but also a very adverse political effect when the American people see the result of repeal. So what they are cynically saying is even after the 18 election, or after the 2020 election we will have it go into effect, so they do not have to bear the political responsibility of the consequences of their act. And I think it is a very politically cynical strategy on their part, and an absolute admission that they no alternative.”