WASHINGTON--Rep. John Lewis made this statement today during the debate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with H.R. 1628, the Health Care Repeal Act, also known as Trumpcare. The Congressional Budget Office has projected that the bill will reduce the federal budget by taking health benefits from those who need it most and by drastically altering Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid provisions that support seniors, orphaned children and some of the most vulnerable Americans. CBO estimates that, if this bill were signed into law, 24 million people would lose health benefits in the next 10 years, and 14 million will lose coverage in 2018. Hospital associations, medical associations, senior citizen associations and many others have all come out against this repeal. Citizens have flooded congressional offices with phones calls against this legislation.
The current struggle within the Republican Conference revolves around how much insurance to take away from vulnerable Americans. The Freedom Caucus’s primary objection to the bill is that it does not reduce the deficit enough by sacrificing even more protections for vulnerable Americans. For example, pre-Affordable Care Act some insurance coverage cost less but actually might not cover a range of basic procedures like mammograms, hospitalizations, medications and other standard inclusions. People could pay monthly insurance premiums faithfully only to discover that when they got sick, they did not have sufficient coverage to pay their healthcare expenses. Catastrophic illness sent thousands of Americans into bankruptcy. To combat this, Obamacare implemented minimum coverage standards for all policies. The Freedom Caucus would like to repeal these minimums, for example, to lower the cost of care and reduce the budget, but revisit the likelihood that millions would pay for insufficient health benefits. Rep. Lewis made this statement in response to the repeal effort (video link):
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my friend for yielding. Mr. Speaker, I rise to oppose this bill.
As elected representatives, we have a mission, an obligation, and a mandate to fight for each and every American. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, who will stand for the American people? Who will speak up for those who have been left out and left behind?
Mr. Speaker, I have said it time and time again -- health care is a right. It is not a privilege reserved for a wealthy few. For what does it profit this body to pass this bill and lose our soul? This bill is a shame. It is a disgrace.
Mr. Speaker, today my heart breaks for the disabled, for women, for seniors, and working families. My heart aches for those who are living paycheck-to-paycheck. My heart mourns for innocent, little children whose very life depends on if their families can pay the bills. This is the right and wrong of it. This is the heart and soul of the matter. We cannot abandon our principles. Mr. Speaker, we cannot forget our values.
I have fought too hard and too long to back down now. I will fight any bill that turns the clock back to a darker time. I will fight every single attempt to turn a deaf ear, a blind eye, and a cold shoulder to the sick, to our seniors, and to working families. Mr. Speaker, I will fight every day, every hour, every minute, and every second. I will oppose this bill with every breath and every bone in my body.
We must not give up. We cannot – I will not -- give in. Not today, not tomorrow, and never ever. On this bill, there is only one option – and that option is to vote NO. You can do better. Mr. Speaker, you must do better. Vote no on this bill!