Congress Can’t Afford To Waste Time Refighting Old Battles And Should Renew Focus On Creating Jobs
June 29, 2012
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act and Congress’ plan to refocus on creating jobs for the American people. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Yesterday the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed that no family should live one illness or accident away from bankruptcy.
The Court’s decision isn’t a victory for Democrats or for President Obama – it’s a true victory for the American people.
Let me give you a few reasons why.
Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, more than 6 million young people have signed up for their parents’ health plans.
Because children can now stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26, no young person will have to defer his or her dreams to take a job that offers insurance.
Since health reform took effect, 5 million seniors have already saved about $600 each on prescription drugs. Millions more have gotten free wellness checks and cancer screenings.
That means millions of seniors have more money in their pockets for food, gas and the electric bill.
And, hundreds of thousands of businesses that already offer their employees health insurance are getting tax credits for doing the right thing.
Since Congress passed this law, insurance companies can no longer put profits ahead of people.
They can no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions.
They can no longer raise your rates for no reason.
They can no longer drop your coverage if you get sick.
Millions of Americans are already seeing the benefits of this law.
And soon, 30 million more who can’t afford health insurance will have access to reasonably priced insurance and quality care.
Here’s how it works. Each state will set up its own health insurance marketplace, called an exchange, which will offer a menu of private insurance plans from which people can choose.
Once these exchanges are in place, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against any American with a preexisting health condition.
They won’t be able to deny you insurance because you’re sick.
They won’t be able to charge you more just because you’re a woman or because you don’t already have insurance.
And if you can’t afford the premiums, you’ll get a tax credit to help pay them.
But what if you’re one of the 250 million Americans who already has insurance? Nothing will change.
Nothing will change except that you’ll no longer have to worry that if you lose your job, you’ll lose your insurance.
Nothing will change except that if you get cancer or have a stroke, your insurance company won’t be allowed to deny life-saving care because you reach some arbitrary lifetime cap.
Nothing will change except that your checkups and preventive care will be free – a provision that’s already helped 54 million Americans with private insurance.
You’ll be able to keep your plan and keep your doctor. But now you – not the insurance company – will be in control.
And by August, almost 13 million people will get a rebate check from their insurance company because it spent too much on administrative costs and not enough on health care.
The Affordable Care Act is already helping millions of Americans – seniors on Medicare, children with heart conditions, students following their dreams.
And in the coming months many millions more will benefit from this law.
That’s doesn’t mean the law is perfect. Democrats have already shown we’re willing to work with Republicans to improve it.
But now that the Supreme Court has spoken, it’s time to renew our focus on the most pressing challenge facing this nation: the high unemployment rate.
Too many Americans are still struggling. And Congress can’t afford to waste time re-fighting old battles.
Now we need to work together to put Americans back to work.
Thanks to cooperation on both sides, I am glad to say the Senate will vote today on the transportation jobs bill conference report.
This package also includes an extension of student loan rates and flood insurance legislation.
Passing these three very important job-creating measures is a real accomplishment for Congress.
Extending the flood insurance program will allow millions of home closings to go forward at a time when our real estate market is just beginning to rebound.
Preventing interest rates from doubling on 7 million students was a major priority for Democrats and for President Obama.
And passing the two-year transportation bill will create or save 2.8 million American jobs – many of them in the hard-hit construction industry.
It will also restore millions of miles of crumbling roadways, railways and bridges.
This has been an incredibly productive week. And it tops off a fruitful session.
This month we passed a bipartisan farm bill that will give certainty to an agriculture industry that supports 16 million jobs.
I am optimistic the Senate will maintain a spirit of collaboration during the next work period, when we will consider a number of other job-creation measures.
I hope all my colleagues have a constructive week in their home states, and a safe and happy Fourth of July.
And I hope they come back rested and ready to work on in July, because we have a lot to get done next month to ensure this country’s economic future.
I look forward to taking on that challenge together.