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Rep. John Lewis Opening Statement On Repeal of Obamacare Individual Mandate

January 25, 2017
Press Release
At Ways & Means Health Subcommittee Hearing

(Remarks as delivered)

Good afternoon.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  Again, I congratulate you on your new role as Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee.  I look forward to working with you in this new Congress.   I hope we can continue our tradition of strong oversight of the Administration as we have in past Congresses.  I would also like to thank each witness for being here this afternoon.

Let me begin by saying what I have said at countless other hearings -- the Affordable Care Act works.  It works.  Now, I want to be crystal clear for the record.  The topic of today’s hearing is a Republican idea.  In fact, Governor Romney called it the “ultimate conservative idea” because it was based in personal responsibility.  The individual mandate became a core part of the health care law. 

There is not a family in this country that has not been touched by sickness or injury.  I have said it before, and I will say it again.  I believe in my heart of hearts that health care is a basic human right.  It is not a privilege of the wealthy.  It should not be reserved for people that insurance companies have decided are worth the risk.

This committee has a mission, an obligation, and a mandate to think of those who have been left out and left behind.  We cannot forget the 100 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.  We cannot forget the struggles of those people whose care cost more than the insurance limit.  We cannot forget the seniors in the donut hole who were unable to afford their medicine.

I know that we can come together, to make health care more affordable, more accessible, for every person in our great country.  I speak for the Members on this side of the aisle who are ready to do the good work – the people’s work.  

We must be mindful not to harm the marketplaces where Americans buy insurance.  We must protect children from being kicked off their parents’ plans.  We must ensure that a woman is not charged more simply because she is a woman.   

Mr. Chairman, today we face a moral issue.  In the coming weeks and months, we should come together to improve the law – not destroy it.  At stake are not just the details of policy, but the fundamental principles of justice and the very character of our nation.  Thank you.