FIXING OUR NATION'S HEALTH CARE; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 12
(House of Representatives - January 23, 2017)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.


[Pages H594-H599]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                    FIXING OUR NATION'S HEALTH CARE

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2017, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Sessions) is recognized 
for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, tonight, what I would like to do is engage 
the American people on several subjects. I will be speaking for quite a 
bit of time tonight on the health care issue facing America.
  Mr. Speaker, before I get there, I yield to the gentleman from 
Nebraska (Mr. Fortenberry), a very dear friend of mine.


                      Windswept Plains of Nebraska

  Mr. FORTENBERRY. Mr. Speaker, first, let me thank the chairman for 
yielding, but, more importantly, for his extraordinarily hard work as 
chairman of the Rules Committee. I don't think a lot of people are 
aware just how critical his job is in shepherding and guiding order in 
our institution here. So I am grateful for his hard work, most grateful 
for his friendship, and very grateful for his leadership. I thank him 
so much for the time.
  Mr. Speaker, when Presidents give their inaugural addresses, we are 
very accustomed to lofty narratives, to visionary ideals, and to 
sweeping language. But last Friday, President Trump spoke very 
differently. The only sweeping thing in the President's speech was his 
reference to the windswept plains of Nebraska. Of course, when I heard 
that, I perked up.
  President Trump's speech was a striking and direct call for a new, 
healthy nationalism. He spoke to the people, about the people, and for 
the people. A certain awkwardness marked the beginning of his speech, 
not only because of the initial confrontational style from the outset, 
but it also began to rain as the President started, creating a bit of 
an uncomfortable moment. But then the rain suddenly stopped and his 
speech gained momentum. He discussed, in hard terms, some of the stark 
realities we are facing and how they might be resolved for our country.
  Mr. Speaker, we all know this, that defining problems is an easy 
task, but finding solutions is much harder. While President Trump's 
speech lacked specifics in that regard, nonetheless, there was 
extraordinary power in the attempt to articulate an America that has 
been lost to globalized supply-side elitism, an America that has been 
lost to drugs and crime, and an America that has systems that no longer 
seem to serve all persons. It just seems that no matter how hard 
individuals work, they just can't get ahead.
  Mr. Speaker, our President's speech was an authoritative call for a 
new national unity, particularly for those forgotten. The idea that 
America can do better, that we must do better, and that we will do 
better for everyone was clearly conveyed by President Trump.
  I recognize the tone of this speech will not have universal appeal. 
It was to the point, direct, and firm. It was not a delicate, textured 
speech. But the President was clear when he declared: ``The American 
carnage stops right here and stops right now.''
  Mr. Speaker, we are witnessing a renewed and important and essential 
focus on reviving America's economy. The multinational corporations of 
this world are on notice: they cannot play both sides of the balance 
sheet, being for us and against us at the same time, and the benefits 
of exchange will have to be fair for all. Frankly, I believe this 
creates possibilities, possibilities for authentic relationships with 
peoples around the world rather than a transactional one. If this 
objective can be achieved, it will be constructive indeed. A healthy 
American nationalism will lead to properly ordered international 
engagement--for our benefit and the benefit of others.
  Mr. Speaker, when the President spoke before the entirety of our 
government, he also spoke before the House of Representatives. The 
President's authoritative style, communicating the desire to devolve 
power from Washington as well as Wall Street, interestingly repositions 
Congress to its appropriate role in governing society through the power 
of the people.
  Mr. Speaker, it is statistically shown that the majority of Americans 
believe that it is the job of Congress to do whatever the President 
says. This is not true. Congress is an independent, coequal branch of 
government that makes the law, which is interpreted by the judiciary 
and enforced by the President. But across Democratic and across 
Republican executive administrations more and more power has been taken 
by the executive and has been ceded by Congress. This balance of power, 
this necessary balance of power, this original idea of the balance of 
power, has been out of balance for 100 years, and perhaps now a 
realignment begins.

[[Page H595]]

  Mr. Speaker, whether you love President Trump or you loathe him, or 
whether you are someplace in between with certain apprehensions but 
hoping that President Trump succeeds, Friday, Inauguration Day, was an 
extraordinary American day. What we saw was the successful and peaceful 
transfer of power.

  Mr. Speaker, with that, I want to thank, again, my good friend, the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Sessions), for yielding to me.
  Mr. SESSIONS. I thank the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Fortenberry) 
not only for taking time today to discuss the important things that he 
has on his mind, but also for sharing with the American people his 
ideas about where our country is and where we are headed with the new 
Presidency, a new Senate, and a new House of Representatives.
  Tonight, Mr. Speaker, I rise to talk about the current state of our 
Nation's healthcare system.
  Mr. Speaker, tonight I am given this time as a result of the majority 
leader, Mr. McCarthy. He has given me time to talk about an important 
issue that faces not only our country, but also elected Members of the 
House of Representatives and the United States Senate and the President 
of the United States, our new President, President Trump.
  As each of us is aware, the issue of health care is one of the most 
important issues that has been faced in our Nation for many years. Back 
in 2009, President Obama began the search that he talked about for what 
was called an Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act seemed to be 
a promise to make health care better. It seemed to be a word, in the 
words of the President, an Affordable Care Act that would help all 
Americans to receive health care on a fair basis and one that would be 
sustainable.
  The President stood before this body several times and talked about 
his ideas about health care. It took about a year, maybe a little bit 
more, for the Democratic Congress to work through this issue. On or 
about March 21 or 22, 2010, a bill popped out of the United States 
Senate, came to the House of Representatives, and we handled the matter 
here up in the Rules Committee, brought it to the floor, passed it with 
debate, no opposition--no opposition, meaning Republicans were not 
allowed to present an alternative case, a bill. It was a closed rule. 
And the Democrats passed it and went to the White House the next day, 
March 23, 2010, and signed the bill.

                              {time}  1930

  The American people had grave reservations about that, but what 
happened is that it took several years in which they were working 
through this process. We did not know exactly what would happen; but, 
almost immediately, hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of spending 
would take place and taxes would take place. What the President did and 
what the Democrat Party did is they tied health care directly to 
employers and put mandates on top of employers and mandates on top of 
individuals with the belief that individuals would be forced into 
taking what was then ObamaCare--health care--under the Affordable Care 
Act.
  What has happened over the years, including as we stand today, is 
that only some 12 to 20 million people are on ObamaCare at any one 
time. That is because the system that was devised and run by the 
Affordable Care Act is a system that does not work well. It is very 
expensive. It provides limited benefits. And perhaps worst of all, the 
promise that it would make health care available and better for poorer 
people never materialized as they sold it. In fact, healthcare 
providers are reimbursed 50 percent less than from normal insurance; 
meaning that, while you may have some bit of coverage, the people who 
would accept that health care are hard to find.
  It is true that many times you could find someone who is a GP--
someone who is a family physician, someone who is an internist who 
might take what is known as ObamaCare--but if he found something that 
might be wrong or needed to refer that individual, it was very 
difficult to do. In my hometown of Dallas, Texas, major hospitals do 
not take what is known as ObamaCare under the Affordable Care Act, and 
it is because of this problem that it is a false promise for the people 
who are on it.
  Members of Congress are legally required to be on ObamaCare if we 
accept the health care from our providers, but President Obama did not 
ask anyone else in government to fall under the same opportunities that 
we would have as Members of Congress. Over the years, it became a 
festering point--a sore--among not only those who were paying the 
costs, but also those who were on it saw it as a concrete life 
preserver, one that did not live up to its billing. Repeatedly, 
businesses would come to the House of Representatives--to Members of 
Congress--and say to us: This law is not only not working, it is 
causing us to make full-time employees become part-time employees 
because we cannot either pay or do not want to or do not have the 
ability to follow all of the requirements of the law.
  We here in America saw not only dwindling opportunities for 
employment, but we also saw the skyrocketing cost--from taxes, from 
behavior that did not help health care. So Republicans, yes, and the 
American people began talking about some way that we could isolate 
health care to where we would have our friends who were Democrats want 
to accept one of these opportunities to fix this broken system. Over 
the years, Republicans offered some 60 different alternative votes--
piece parts, rifle shots--that said we want to fix ObamaCare, the 
Affordable Care Act. We picked 60 different things about the bill that 
were either incomplete, that did not live up to the billing, that 
caused bad behavior, or that simply were tremendously anticompetitive 
in their nature.
  It was a lonely few years.
  As the chairman of the House Rules Committee, day after day, we would 
seek opportunities for our colleagues to come join us to present their 
ideas, and they not only disagreed with us, but they chastised us. We 
kept going. We kept offering alternatives to a healthcare system that 
was not working.
  Mr. Speaker, what happened is the American people soon saw, as we 
came close to another election, that we were going to have to ask the 
American people to be a part of the solution. We had tried in 
Washington, D.C. We had over 60 votes and we had made it a regular part 
of our discussion. Republicans, each time, had better ideas, better 
alternatives--ways to take 60 different pieces and trade them out so 
that we could better this terrible law that was not working.
  Then came the election. With the election, one of the most key and 
cleanest issues that was discussed was not only the repeal of 
ObamaCare, but the promise that Republicans would replace it also. For 
the past 4 or 5 years, Republicans have had a talking point that we 
want to repeal and to replace the healthcare system that was known as 
ObamaCare.
  Mr. Speaker, that is why I am here tonight--to talk about Republican 
ideas that we think are better for health care and ideas that we think 
will work not only in a marketplace, but that will be able to be used 
by a vast number of people here in America. It will not be something 
that is use it or lose it, as health care many times is. It will be 
sustainable. Perhaps, more importantly, there will be the ability for 
families to get what they want and to not have to pay for what they do 
not need. It passed on March 21 by a vote of 219-212. No Republican 
supported the Affordable Care Act, but every Republican understands 
that health care is important to families. It is important that a 
family takes the responsibility and tries to cover its family.
  Tonight, as I speak with you about where we are in health care, I 
want to include the words that come from Dallas, Texas--my home--of the 
families whom I have gotten to know and of the families who have 
communicated with me, because, as their Member of Congress, I am 
expected not only to listen, but to try and work for their betterment. 
I am probably no different than hundreds of other Members of Congress 
who come to Washington every week with a message.
  This is from Julie Ross of Dallas, Texas, with her two beautiful 
children. This is a very high-level conversation in which she says:

       Now that my daughter is at home and thriving--who was in 
     the hospital--we depend upon these protections to provide

[[Page H596]]

     health care for her complex healthcare needs.

  ObamaCare did not meet those needs; but as a Member of Congress, if I 
am going to talk about repealing, I need to also, forthrightly, talk 
about replacing what is a bad healthcare law with a better healthcare 
alternative. Republicans have better ideas to fix health care, and I am 
going to speak about these.

  The first thing I would like to speak about is the reality that about 
150 million Americans have an opportunity to receive their health care 
on a pretax basis. That means that our employers and our employees who 
work for large companies have a chance to get their health care without 
paying for it on an after-tax basis. I pay about $13,000 myself out of 
pocket for my health care. My employer pays essentially what is a 70-30 
split, but that entire amount is on a pretax basis. The 1943 employer-
sponsored insurance exemption and the 21st Century Cures, which we just 
passed this last December, allow businesses an opportunity to provide 
their employees with pretax health insurance. Pretax health insurance 
means that they are able to deduct the contributions that they make for 
their employees, and employees are allowed to receive this as a 
benefit.
  However, this, I believe, is part of what we have known for a long 
time as being an unfair, rigged system. It is a system that says, if 
you work for one of these larger companies, you will get that tax 
advantage; but if you do not--if you are self-employed, if you are an 
entrepreneur, if you are a 941-type employee, meaning perhaps you are a 
real estate agent who is self-employed or perhaps you work for a small 
company--then you are not offered this pretax opportunity. It is 
probably true that you could deduct that amount next April. As you pay 
your taxes, you would file if you qualified based upon the amount of 
money that you spent.
  Mr. Speaker, this right here is the disadvantage for about 100 
million Americans. They do not receive what 150 million other Americans 
do, and that is to get their health care on a pretax basis. I have 
worked now for some 2 years with some 500 physicians who are across the 
country. We have worked on a system that would allow every single 
American not only to have better health care, but to have an 
opportunity to participate on a fair basis.
  The gentleman from Lubbock, Texas (Mr. Arrington) will participate 
with me tonight and will speak about how important this is for him.
  Mr. ARRINGTON. I thank the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Sessions) for 
yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about something that is near and dear to 
my heart and to the hearts of my constituents.
  It has been 44 years since Roe v. Wade. Since then, 58 million 
precious American lives have been aborted. The Supreme Court got it 
wrong when it violated its authority by creating a constitutional right 
to abortion. To make matters worse, the Federal Government is now using 
our taxpayer dollars to subsidize these abortions. Tomorrow we will 
have the opportunity to put a stop to this. This is an area in which 
the Constitution, my constituents, and my conviction will not allow me 
to budge.
  I believe that all life is ordained by God and begins at conception, 
as the psalmists so eloquently said: ``for You created my inward parts. 
You knit me together in my mother's womb.'' Our Constitution clearly 
defines that all Americans--even those who cannot vote, who cannot 
speak or defend themselves--have the same right to life, liberty, and 
the pursuit of happiness.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to stand with me in support of H.R. 
7; but, most importantly, I plead with them to stand up for generations 
of Americans yet unborn.
  I thank the gentleman again.

                              {time}  1945

  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
Arrington), one of our brand new freshman from Lubbock, Texas. Jodey 
not only comes from the high plains of Lubbock, a young man who has 
given great service to the State of Texas, but he also comes as our 
newest member from the Texas delegation who stands not only with the 
principles of that district, but with the principle of caring about 
other people. I thank the gentleman for letting his voice be heard 
about what will be a bill that will be before the House of 
Representatives tomorrow.
  Mr. Speaker, continuing our discussion about health care and 
Republican ideas. Back in 2013, some 4.7 million Americans that had 
their own health care were knocked off that health care because it 
didn't qualify in the way that President Obama and Democrats wanted to 
have a comprehensive healthcare plan. So it knocked off 4.7 million 
Americans, and what it did is it placed America into a circumstance 
where we began looking for options and alternatives about how we would 
insure the uninsured.
  We were told: Just watch and wait. This Affordable Care Act is going 
to make sure that it takes every single American and gives them an 
affordable healthcare plan.
  Here is what happened, Mr. Speaker. We found out that we still have 
some 30 million people in this country--now in the sixth year of 
ObamaCare--that do not have coverage. We have learned that about 49 
percent of those who are insured work for employers, about 20 percent 
of the marketplace is Medicaid, about 14 percent is Medicare, but we 
still have some 9 percent who were uninsured.
  We then find out that what happened is that the Federal Government 
decided that insurance was not working, so we had coops that were 
invented out of the Affordable Care Act. Seventeen out of the 23 coops 
have now gone into bankruptcy. They could not provide the services that 
the Affordable Care Act was just so sure, with government-run programs, 
would work; and they wiped out almost unilaterally every single 
insurance plan where they came in. I don't know if it was just because 
they undercut them, but what they did is provided a false indicator for 
people.
  Well, the Federal Government is here. Barack Obama and Democrats now 
have a healthcare plan for every single American. Only a few short 
years later, they are gone. They are gone from the marketplace after 
wiping out the insurance that was there.
  Perhaps worst of all, as they left, there was a requirement by the 
Obama administration that somebody had to come and renew insurance, 
even late in the year, or they would receive a $2,000 penalty because 
they did not have insurance at the end of the year.
  Mr. Speaker, this is what the insured and the uninsured look like. A 
gentleman from Dallas, Texas, Kennis Ketchum told us: I am being 
penalized for being an entrepreneur. I am in here, and I want to be in 
here. I want to be able to go and to allow myself to be in insurance, 
but I cannot afford it because I do not have the tax advantage.
  So Republicans finally have the chance for our ideas that we believe 
are bigger and better. We have a chance to do, I think, what we have 
wanted to do for a long time; and that is to repeal the Affordable Care 
Act, but with the promise that we need to make sure that we replace it 
with something better.
  What does this mean?
  Well, I will tell you what it means, Mr. Speaker. What it means is 
that Republicans are going to understand that a simple plan that can be 
paid for literally with the existing dollars that are in health care 
today and authorized by law--some $1.2 trillion that exists in law and 
authorized today--can be utilized for a healthcare system to take care 
of each and every American. I would like to describe that.
  First of all, it is important for us to understand that of the 
uninsured in this country, 74 percent work. That means that people that 
are no different than me and you, Mr. Speaker, get up and go to work to 
the best of their ability. It might be that they don't have all the 
advantages of education that I have. It could be that they have 
something in their life that might be an impediment. It could be some 
sort of perhaps what might be a difference or a disability. I 
understand this. I have a son that has Down syndrome. Alex is not 
really capable of taking care of himself, so he is not necessarily one 
of these that would qualify for what we know as the alternative to 
ObamaCare.
  There are millions who do need the help, who do want and need 
insurance and not insurance that is like the Affordable Care Act 
because we know

[[Page H597]]

that reimburses at 50 percent less than insurance, some 25 percent less 
than Medicaid, a plan that limits the number of physicians and 
healthcare professionals that a person can see. No.
  The American people need something that they can count on. They need 
something that is better, that provides better reimbursement to where 
virtually every hospital would take their plan instead of a few, where 
four times as many doctors would take their plan, their insurance as 
opposed to them being on ObamaCare. These people who want and seek 
health care need a plan that is worthy of the representation that would 
be given to them, and that is the Republican idea.
  So Republicans have a chance, an opportunity. Just one of the ideas 
is to allow the healthcare tax benefits to be consistent with those of 
every American who works for a large company.
  You see, there are two ways to look at this. One might be a high 
standard deduction that an employee or a person would be able to take 
and buy health insurance and, next April, be able to write that off, so 
to speak, as a pretax deduction. You know the problem with that and so 
do I. Seventy-four percent of the people who are uninsured do not have 
the money to buy health care. Seventy-four percent of the people who 
are uninsured might not have enough money to be able to go buy 
insurance and wait all year long to get back their money next April 
when they file their taxes.
  So one of the ideas that I have--and I shared this plan with Senator 
Bill Cassidy from Louisiana--is that what we would like to do is to 
provide a $2,500 tax credit for adults and a $1,500 tax credit for 
dependent children that would be advanceable, assignable, and 
refundable.

  What would this mean?
  This would mean that this year every single American that did not 
receive the tax advantage--the tax advantage like I receive and some 
150 million Americans receive by getting their health care on a pretax 
basis--would have an opportunity to go online. They would be able to go 
online and look at the insurance in their area, and they would be able 
to receive this benefit, this tax advantage. It would not ever come to 
them. It would go directly to their insurance program.
  They would be able to take, for a family of four, some $8,000. They 
would be able to use this first $8,000--the exact same tax advantage 
that Pete Sessions and 150 million other Americans get--January 1st of 
next year and to assign this $8,000 to their healthcare plan.
  They could decide they wanted more, and they would be able to do that 
on a pretax basis also up to $5,000. They could decide that they would 
like perhaps to get a plan that would be at their local hospital. That 
is fine. They could decide that they would like to have what is called 
a health savings account, an HSA, which, more generally, is an 
opportunity for them to control their costs. This is very attractive 
for young people and advantageous for young people because they would 
be able to control their costs and roll these advantages or savings 
over year after year after year as opposed to losing what they had 
saved or, at the beginning of the year, starting back over.
  Republicans have an opportunity to make things fair. I think this is 
what President Trump talked about when he was candidate Trump. I think 
he talked about a rigged system. When you have a system where 150 
million Americans get a tax advantage and you don't, you would describe 
that as a rigged system.
  So Republicans, at least one of the proposals that is out there--
because it is Senator Cassidy's and mine, known as the World's Greatest 
Healthcare Plan--employs an opportunity where up front we allow every 
single American to have health care January 1 that is superior in 
nature to whatever they had with ObamaCare.
  It allows the purchase of a nongovernment plan and it allows each 
individual, if they choose, to go to a health savings account.
  What is a health savings account?
  A health savings account is a well-known product whereby a family 
would be able to get what is called major medical coverage. They 
actually, as part of their plan, would make sure that, if they were in 
the hospital or a member of their family was in the hospital, they 
would have to cover the first $5,000, but that the insurance plan then 
that they could find about affording out of this $8,000 for a family of 
four would give them a chance then to have either a 90/10, 80/20, or 
70/30 contribution. Meaning they could decide what they wanted to 
afford based upon their age, based upon their risk, based upon their 
own circumstances. But they, as a consumer, would be able to make sure 
that they are taken care of if they go in the hospital.
  Then that contribution, to the level that they would choose--either 
they would pay 30 percent or 20 percent or 10 percent for expenses past 
$10,000--gave them the coverage that they need in the marketplace. 
Maybe it is a baby. Maybe it is major surgery. Maybe it is cancer. But 
they would receive hospital coverage.
  Then with the remaining amount of money, they could then put that 
into a health savings account and use cash for their doctor's visits. 
Cash is king. Cash is also the most economical way to get your health 
care because you go and actually, instead of negotiating with a doctor 
or looking at what your insurance company negotiated, you negotiate 
paying that person today instead of the doctor having to file insurance 
and go through the necessary elements to receive their money back.
  You go to the doctor you choose. You pay for what you want. You pay 
for those things that you have made a decision, and you pay out of your 
cash account. It is the most leading edge, fastest way to get health 
care in America, and, generally speaking, it is 18 percent cheaper.
  Mr. Speaker, these are but one of the ideas that Republicans bring to 
the table.

                              {time}  2000

  And it is why I can stand up, as chairman of the Rules Committee, 
when my colleagues say: oh, you are going to take away something that 
people had with the Affordable Care Act. And I say: you know, I think 
we have got a better way to look at it.
  Instead of only some 27 out of 100 doctors being available to you as 
a patient, I would like to double or quadruple that. I would like for 
you to be able to make your own decisions, and, in the long run, you 
will be better.
  But there is more to the story. And the more to the story is, what 
this will do is allow a robust marketplace where, instead of forcing 
people to go into a system and then penalizing them, we encourage 
people to go into a system and encourage them to be not only consumers, 
and not only to take care of themselves, but to help everybody out 
because it helps the curve.
  It helps people get in of all ages, of all needs, of all types back 
into the marketplace automatically January 1st. Didn't have to guess at 
how much money they were going to make; didn't have to worry about 
whether they got laid off; didn't have to go check with the IRS; didn't 
have to ask Uncle Sam.
  We are automatically giving the tax advantage by virtue of them being 
American and us doing the right thing off the existing money that 
exists in ObamaCare and health care today.
  Mr. Speaker, that is a better idea. That is a better opportunity for 
us, as Republicans, to go back home, and, no matter who we want to look 
at, we can say: we get it. We do get that you want and need health 
care, that we want and need America to have the greatest healthcare 
system in the world, but we need to make sure we can pay for it. And it 
should not restrict business. It should not come and tell a business or 
a group of people what they will--how they will tie themselves together 
with their health care and their job that makes absolutely no sense.
  I know we were told that is the way it would happen, but it did not. 
It became a concrete life preserver for employees, employers, and for 
the marketplace.
  So, Mr. Speaker, this health insurance tax advantage is but one of 
the ideas that is available to the American people and to the 
Republican Party as part of the world's greatest healthcare system.
  I believe that we need a very disciplined approach. I believe that we 
need to be thoughtful. I believe that we need every single Member of 
Congress to understand what kind of healthcare system America deserves, 
not only for the physicians and the hospitals back

[[Page H598]]

home but for the real live people who are called constituents. And we 
as Members of Congress should know, the day we pass a bill, how we 
intend it to work.
  My colleagues, the Democrats, for 6 years have bumbled around and, 
even today, don't even understand, nor will they admit, what a disaster 
ObamaCare is. So, the American people did it for them.
  The American people voted in Donald J. Trump. They voted in 
Republicans to the House in the majority. They voted in Republicans to 
the Senate. And now we are in Washington, and we are going to struggle. 
We are going to struggle mightily. We are going to throw ideas onto the 
wall. We are going to have committee hearings. We are going to have the 
best thought process.
  We are going to be able to go back home and to sell to the American 
people not only some of the ideas that I have but some of the ideas 
that my colleagues have. And we are going to come up with a better 
healthcare system.
  So what we are about is fix the system before we repeal it. I believe 
it is wise to say that Republicans owe it to the American people to 
say: before we go replacing something--before we repeal something, 
let's replace it. And more and more and more and more of my colleagues 
are saying this openly. It only makes sense.
  We have nothing to fear with a Republican option and an alternative 
that will be superior for the American people, and every single person 
will be able to see that. We believe establishing a Republican 
alternative that can be implemented this year is the best answer.
  Now, this is my idea. My idea is, let's go get it on. We know what we 
are doing. Let's go hold our hearings. Let's go to the American people. 
Let's sell the ideas that we have got. Let's go move forward and get 
this process on.
  Secondly, we believe that what we have got to do is use 
reconciliation to repeal the most onerous mandates. What might those 
be? Well, the individual and the business mandate, the Cadillac tax.
  We believe that we have got to go and use the processes, the leverage 
that we have got. And then we have got to count on what I hope will be 
the gentleman from Georgia, Tom Price, who is today the chairman of the 
Budget Committee, but tomorrow has been nominated to be the Secretary 
of Health and Human Services.
  We will count on Dr. Tom Price actually sitting in the seat, looking 
at the exact same law that was overwhelmingly voted by Democrats and no 
Republicans, and using those levers that he has that were expressly 
given to the head of HHS to make wise decisions on how to implement the 
law as we move forward.
  I will tell you, Chairman Price, as a physician with a long history 
of understanding health care, as a provider of health care for years, 
as an awesome physician, Tom Price knows the problems, and he will use 
those same opportunities that exist in the law today. Instead of it 
being something that would be more difficult for a consumer, more 
difficult for a person on ObamaCare, more difficult for what might be 
an employer, more difficult and time consuming for a consumer, more 
costly to the consumers of this country, but, perhaps worst of all, 
making it harder to provide better health care for a patient, Tom Price 
will have that opportunity.
  So this is a three-tier process for Republicans, for us to also bring 
the best ideas. The American people should be checking with their 
Member of Congress who will be able to understand the Republican 
alternative. This is great for the American people to know.
  We are going to use the levers of laws to change them, to repeal and 
take back the most onerous parts of ObamaCare, and we are going to work 
within the law that Mr. Price, as head of HHS, would be able to use 
exactly the same levers that someone sat there, if they really wanted 
to fix health care instead of making it harder for someone.

  We know that Republicans have better ideas, and that what we want to 
do is to establish a tax benefit system while allowing the employer-
sponsored insurance tax system to remain. That means that every single 
American will have parity on the opportunity to buy health care on 
January 1 of every year; that no longer will we find that people lag 
behind because they can't afford, or it is a rigged system, or they 
have a disadvantage.
  Republicans have an opportunity to level the playing field. This is 
why Republicans openly in any crowd can say: we have better ideas. We 
don't have to force anybody. We will invite them to come be a part of 
what we do. And I guarantee you, more people will flock to our system 
than fled and ran from ObamaCare, because it has to work for everybody, 
not just some of us.
  The healthcare system that we have today, ObamaCare, literally, young 
people ran from the system. They could not afford it. But worst of all, 
they could not pay the high deductible. And if you have such a high 
deductible, it means, by and large, insurance is useless to you.
  So, Mr. Speaker, what Republicans are doing is going to allow a tax 
benefit system. Republicans are going to make HSAs available as an 
option, an alternative, so that people have a choice and a chance to 
buy what they need but not pay for what they don't want. We want an 
opportunity for them to become consumers. We want them to be a part of 
a system where it is not use it or lose it, rather, they can only, 
through their own means and their hard work, roll over perhaps $1,000 a 
year, $1,000 at 21, $1,000 at 22, $1,000 at 23, and to allow private 
physicians to make sure they are in the system.
  Lastly, as my time is moving forward, I want to say something to each 
and every American because it seemingly has been a part of the lexicon 
in my Democrat friends' viewpoint, and it is this: The Republican plan 
has available to it and, I believe, will accept the rights that were 
known as under ObamaCare, which were very bipartisan, dependent 
coverage through age 26--Republican plan, you bet. No lifetime annual 
limits--Republican plan, absolutely. Modified guarantee availability 
renewability, just like what was in ObamaCare--you bet we will have 
that too.
  Prohibition on preexisting conditions exclusions--literally, just the 
same. You have to buy in. And if you don't, then you have a problem. 
But if you buy in the first time you get a chance, it is an opportunity 
just like ObamaCare.
  Prohibition on discrimination based on health status--absolutely. 
That is a Republican idea, too. It is not owned by just one party. It 
is a generally accepted idea and would be a part, should be a part, of 
a Republican plan, and nondiscrimination and healthcare coverage.
  Mr. Speaker, what I have tried to do in this hour is to give the 
American people and my colleagues the confidence that what lies ahead 
will be an awesome debate, but it will be done in public. It will be 
done above board. It will be done where Members of Congress can go back 
home and explain to people not only what we want to do but be willing 
to take their own feedback also.
  It will be a system that will fix the inequities, the things that 
were unfair about tax benefits. And it should be, and I hope will be, a 
system that will be available this next year so that, on January 1 of 
this next year, as we find the American people wanting eagerly to look 
at the health care that their families would want and need, that they 
will find a tax benefit that is consistent with what any other American 
gets.
  Now, the last point I would like to say is a thank you. I would like 
to say a thank you to some 500 physicians of the National Physicians' 
Policy Council who have worked through, for 2 years, 9 very large 
meetings across this country, the last one, the first week of December 
here in Washington.
  Dr. John T. Gill, national co-chairman, and Dr. Marcy Zwelling--Dr. 
Gill is from Dallas. Dr. Zwelling is from Los Angeles--and our 16 vice 
chairmen, who have devoted not only hard work but a belief that a 
healthcare change should be done with physicians, with the people who 
care about not only patients but care about the system that they would 
be engaged in, the system of health care in America, that is the 
greatest system that we know of.

                              {time}  2015

  They have sent me hundreds of ideas and hundreds of things which we 
have openly discussed where we rubbed elbows trying to decide how do we 
hone

[[Page H599]]

this idea. It has come down to every single American should end up with 
a better healthcare system than one that was designed that they could 
not explain and still leaves some 30 million people uninsured in 
America, and that is called ObamaCare. We should not have a system that 
demands that a person be on that system or have to pay a huge fine. No. 
We would want a system where people gleefully came to it, liked their 
healthcare system, became a consumer, were proud of what they got, and 
perhaps more importantly, could go to the doctor of their choice 
instead of calling a number and being assigned or take the person that 
they were given.
  Mr. Speaker, there are lots of ways to get things done in this 
country, but Republicans have, for years, had better ideas. The idea on 
health care is one that Republicans are eager--eager--not only to 
accept this challenge, but eager to say that we are going to work 
together. Speaker Ryan has pledged himself to our Conference. We have 
Members of the United States Senate, Mitch McConnell--the other body--
and there are a number of Members, including Dr. Bill Cassidy and Dr. 
Rand Paul who have come out with their own healthcare bills, ways to 
attract not just other cosponsors, but their colleagues who are 
Democrats also.
  So I would say tonight to my colleagues: I would like for you to take 
just a minute to look at the world's greatest healthcare plan. I would 
like for you to be concerned, instead of the some 12 to 20 million 
people across the country--everybody has their own congressional 
district, and there might be a large number in some of their districts. 
But by and large, the vast number would not be on ObamaCare, and each 
of our Members owe them a better healthcare system also.
  But if we all get together, every single person can have the 
opportunity to have a nondiscriminatory system where virtually every 
hospital would take your coverage instead of only a few. ObamaCare is 
only a few, only a few doctors. And if we work together and form larger 
team sizes, we can make health care even better for all Americans.
  So, Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity tonight to talk 
about not only better ideas to fix health care, but it would be done 
through a deliberate, disciplined approach, one in which every single 
Member of this body should be able to describe what they want. If they 
want to be for ObamaCare and say that only 24 percent of physicians and 
only a few hospitals will take their plan, then let them stand on that.
  But I want to be for a system where virtually every hospital and 
virtually every doctor would take the healthcare plan that I would like 
my family to be on and them, also. That is why I stand up tonight and 
speak favorably about the Republican advantages of where we will head, 
specifically about the world's greatest healthcare plan that Senator 
Bill Cassidy and I have cosponsored and, more specifically, that the 
American people can be sold by every single one of us to make health 
care work and be better for each and every American.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

                          ____________________