VIDEO: Chairman Xavier Becerra on House Republicans’ 52nd Attempt to Repeal and Undermine the Affordable Care Act

April 3, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, delivered the following remarks on the floor of the House before voting against legislation (H.R. 2575) marking the 52nd attempt to repeal and undermine the Affordable Care Act. Watch the video below:

“First, the facts. Not the facts from this side of the aisle, not the facts from the other party but the facts that we get from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which is in charge of telling all of us, Congress and the rest of the country, what does legislation that’s proposed by democrats and republicans actually cost, what will it actually do. They’re the nonpartisan referee that we are to rely on to give us the facts without getting into these political battles.

“And what do the folks at the Congressional Budget Office say about this bill? One, it will increase the deficit by $75 billion. Two, around a million American workers will lose their health insurance coverage that they get through their employer today. Three, around five times as many workers in America will be at risk of losing hours at work as a result of this bill, should it become law.

“So those are the facts, not from Republicans, not from Democrats, but from the nonpartisan CBO.

“Now, let’s talk about these facts a bit more because I think folks are probably a bit confused. What the heck is going on? We are going to lose hours at work, what’s going on? Essentially it’s this. We got to figure out how we make sure that employers that currently offer insurance to their employees, health insurance to their employees, don’t say, I don’t want to do it anymore so I’m going to stop offering it. How can I do that? I can make sure I keep my employees employed for less hours than is required by law. This bill says, if you — if you have that threshold, the number of hours you have to work be 30, well, a whole bunch of employers will say, hey, I can game the system if I drop the hours my employees work at the job to less than 30, that’s true. The problem is this: the vast majority of Americans don’t work 31 hours, 32 hours a week. They work 40. A lot of Americans in fact work 42, 44. They work overtime.

“And so what the Affordable Care Act did was make sure that most employers who currently offer employer-covered insurance to their employees continue to do it, because very few employers are going to say, I can game this system by dropping my 40-hour worker to 29 hours. That’s a lot of quality hours, unless you were letting these folks just sit on a couch.

“What happens if you raise the number of work hours to qualify for the Affordable Care coverage to 40 hours? Well, that’s why the CBO says, about a million Americans will lose their insurance coverage.

“Because if you work in a 40-hour workweek, while an employer would say, gosh, it would be tough for me to drop you to 29 hours, it would be a lot easier to say I’ll drop you to 39 1/2 hours in which case I no longer have to offer you insurance. That’s why the CBO says that over a million Americans would lose insurance coverage and why it would cost about $75 billion to do this legislation. Because guess what, if the employers are no longer offering you insurance and you still have to go to the doctor for your child and you can’t afford it anymore because you don’t have insurance, guess who has to pay? The folks in the gallery, those of us here who pay taxes because they’ll go to the emergency room and now they’ll use the Medicaid program to help cover that bill that they could no longer afford because their employer cut them back a little bit. If we all really want to make sure that Americans get to work, then let’s separate the myth from the fact.

“Remember four years ago, death panels? If the Affordable Care Act, this new health security law takes effect, death panels are going to decide if your grandmother gets to live. How many death panels have told your family he or she will have to die?

“I ask anyone in this audience, you have a doctor, do you have insurance? You know your doctor? Ask yourself this question, what’s the name of your government doctor? You have a doctor, did you know your doctor works for the government? You’re going to say, no, I’ve known my known my doctor for a long time, he or she doesn’t work for the government. If you believe the myth, yes, your doctor does, because, remember, this was a government takeover of health care.

“It was a myth. In fact, this Affordable Care Act law requires you to use private health insurance coverage to get your health care through private doctors and private hospitals. But what it does, is it requires you to do it and it requires employers to do it as well. That’s what the law did. It didn’t say you have to go to a government doctor or a government hospital.

“So once you separate the facts from the myths, it becomes pretty clear what we have to do.

“We have to make sure if you’re an American, we reward you for your work. If you’re an American and you get health insurance through your employer, we don’t want your employer to game the system and put the burden on you now. And so what we want is to make it affordable for the employee and affordable for the employer. This bill makes it unaffordable for the employee moving forward and it makes it quite honestly unaffordable for the employer as well because you’re losing your good workers. We need to defeat this bill and try to make the Affordable Care Act work for everyone.”