Press Releases

Conyers: Patients' Rights Repeal Act Would Add 54 Million People to the Rolls of the Uninsured

Washington, DC, January 20, 2011

Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) spoke on the House floor staunchly opposing the Patients’ Rights Repeal Act that would eliminate the essential provisions of health care reform, the Affordable Care Act. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, if enacted, the repeal would increase the country’s deficit by $230 billion in the coming decade. Today, the Patient’s Rights Repeal Act was considered on the House floor for debate and will be considered for a vote tomorrow.

Ranking Member Conyers submitted the following statement in opposition of the Patients’ Rights Repeal Act. You can watch Mr. Conyers speak on the House floor here.

The issues here are simple. The health care bill that that Republicans attack today ensures that millions of Americans have access to essential medical care. It enables businesses to provide health care to their employees – which protects and creates the jobs we so desperately need. It protects Americans from notorious insurance company practices like denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and children with birth defects. It stops insurance companies from dropping your coverage when you get sick.

And it takes critical first steps towards getting health care costs under control, cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the deficit. Everyone in America who gets health insurance through their work has seen premiums and co-pays skyrocket year after year. Those increases afflict our entire health care economy. Before we passed the Affordable Care Act, they threatened to engulf the entire federal budget. Those who would repeal this law are simply not serious about our debt.

Repealing this bill would undo all these profound public policy achievements. And towards what end? Repeal would add 54 million people to the rolls of the uninsured. Is that what the new majority wants as their first legislative act? Repeal would permit health insurers to resume discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions. Does the new majority want to tell women who have survived breast cancer or children with birth defects that they are not allowed to buy health care? Repeal would lead to millions of young people being dropped from their parents’ insurance coverage. In this economy, with work and the health insurance that comes with it so hard to find, does the new majority really want to kick these children off the insurance rolls? And finally, repeal would add more than $230 billion to the near term federal deficit. Is that what the new majority has in store for the American taxpayer?

The majority apparently feels that all these costs are acceptable, because they will “replace” the health care bill with something else. But that is simply not credible.

After all we went through to pass this bill, it obviously would be no simple thing to draft a replacement. So if the majority is serious about wanting to improve our health care system, at the least they should hold off on repealing the current law until their replacement actually exists. Voting now suggests the true motive here is the politics of health care, not the policy.

During the health care debate last year, we saw the Republican approach – and it simply does not improve our health care system. Indeed, in November of 2009, the Republicans put forward their own plan which the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found would cover only 3 million people. That meant that for the 54 million people left without the ability to afford insurance, the Republican’s “No Care” plan provided exactly that – no care; no hope; no security. 

There may be no issue that comes before the Congress that more clearly demonstrates the different priorities of the parties. Based on today’s proceedings, it is clear that the new Republican majority stands for protecting insurance companies, exploding the national debt, and playing to the extremes of their base.

The Democratic minority, on the other hand, stands for affordable health care for all, holding insurance companies accountable, and responsibly addressing our long term financial challenges. I urge all members to vote against repeal of the landmark health care reform law.