(House of Representatives - January 09, 2018)

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[Pages H22-H23]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Connecticut (Mr. Courtney) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. COURTNEY. Mr. Speaker, last October, President Trump loudly 
proclaimed that the Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare, was ``virtually 
dead.'' He said it was finished, it was gone. This was after the 
pummeling that this law had been taking over 2017 in the unsuccessful 
effort by the Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  Again, last October was a critical moment, because enrollment was 
about to commence for 2018's policy year, and the Trump administration 
announced that they were going to cut in half the time that people 
would have an opportunity to go out and learn about rates, to talk to 
get enrollment help, and also to sign up for different plans. They also 
cut the marketing budget by 80 percent and eliminated funding for folks 
at the State level to actually provide face-to-face assistance. So it 
all looked pretty grim back in October in terms of what that would 
result in in terms of enrollment for 2018.
  Well, as a famous resident from the State of Connecticut, Mark Twain, 
once infamously said: Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

  Yesterday, the Connecticut exchange, the Connecticut Access Health 
Exchange, announced their enrollment numbers for 2018. Rather than 
going down, even though they were only able to enroll people in half 
the time there was in 2016, and even though they had no budget in terms 
of trying to actually promote and advertise, their enrollment went up. 
It went up by 3 percent in terms of the number of people who signed up 
for Anthem Blue Cross plans, for ConnectiCare plans, and for Medicaid 
  Again, it was done because of this amazing grassroots, organic effort 
by libraries, by community health centers, by human service agencies, 
by hospitals that went out and took on the task of getting the word out 
that, in fact, the Affordable Care Act was still alive and that people 
would have access to affordable health plans. Sure enough, it resulted 
in an increase in health plans.
  Interestingly, the young invincibles, the young enrollees that 
everybody predicted were going to abandon the program because the 
enforcement of the mandate was going to be relaxed by the IRS actually 
had a very strong, healthy number.
  Coming from a State that is known for its insurance history--it was 
the insurance capital of the world--the fact of the matter is that 
getting those young enrollees, those young members to sign up for these 
plans, in fact, portends well for 2019 and beyond.
  This morning, The Hill newspaper reported that for ObamaCare 
insurers, actually, their financial prospects are looking much better 
for 2019 because the system has stabilized.
  Now, again, there is still work that could be done. There is a bill, 
H.R. 3748, a Medicare buy-in, which would allow people 50 and up to 
voluntarily sign up for Medicare, again, using subsidies if they 
qualify or paying the full cost, which would still be 40 percent less 
than the plans that are on exchanges throughout the country for people 
50 and up. It would not affect the deficit, and, in fact, arguably, it 
would strengthen the Medicare trust fund because you would get a 
younger population into the Medicare Program.
  So there is work that we can do that is optional, voluntary, in terms 
of trying to provide more choices for individuals out there; but, 
clearly, what happened yesterday in Connecticut and throughout the 
country in terms of enrollment figures, that despite the active efforts 
by the Trump administration to undercut and sabotage this law, in fact, 
shows that the law has a life of its own, that, in fact, people are 
voting with their feet in terms of still trying to get access to the 
critical needs of every human being and every American, which is access 
to healthcare.
  I want to particularly congratulate Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, 
who spearheaded this effort in Connecticut and yesterday stated: This 
just shows how valuable the Affordable Care Act is to thousands of 
residents in Connecticut; also, Jim Wadleigh, the director of the 
exchange, who, again, was not distracted or demoralized by the comments 
coming out of the White House but still plunged forward and still 
persistently and determinedly went out and made sure that people got 
the real information, the real facts, the real news so that they could, 
in fact, take an opportunity to protect themselves and their families 
from the inevitable problems of sickness and accident, that every 
American and every Member of Congress enjoys through their health 
benefits, for every resident in the State of Connecticut.
  It is time for us to stop the attack in terms of a program that has 
provided millions of Americans coverage and opportunity to healthcare. 
We should work together on bills like H.R. 3748, a voluntary, deficit-
neutral attempt to try and strengthen and provide cheaper alternatives 
for people 50 and up and small businesses. That is the way forward, not 
this persistent, nonstop hyperpolitical, hyperpartisan attack

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on a bill that has made a huge difference to millions of Americans.