Maintaining the status quo under a failing law is simply unacceptable. I have had great concerns about the American Health Care Act, and expressed those to Speaker Ryan and House leadership. But doing nothing isn't an option, which I why I supported this amended bill as an important next step in the longer process of broader health reform that will benefit Illinois. The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) downward spiral is accelerating. This year, three of the seven counties in the 14th Congressional District are left with only one insurance carrier on the ACA exchange, and there are communities in my district that saw premium increases of up to 77.3 percent in 2017. The forecast for next year is more desperate, which is why I support moving a solution forward that does something to protect care for people in the 14th District. Not only are these ACA plans more expensive, but insurers are seriously restricting choice to control escalating costs, refusing coverage for some of the best doctors and hospitals in northern Illinois. Thousands of individuals and families can no longer go to their trusted doctors or get care at their nearest hospital. I have said repeatedly I will ensure people with pre-existing conditions are protected. Under the American Health Care Act (AHCA), insurance companies can never deny someone coverage based on pre-existing conditions. This legislation requires a state to meet very specific requirements if it chooses a waiver to deliver health care that is better tailored to the needs of its population. What people are forgetting is that this much criticized provision is similar to the State Innovation Waivers already granted by standing ACA law. The AHCA provides several layers of protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions in states that get an approved waiver, with rules in place to make sure those individuals have help affording their premiums and that they maintain continuous coverage to keep their costs down. No one can be charged more if they maintain continuous coverage. Today the House also passed H.R. 2192, which applies state waiver rules to Congress and congressional staff. The AHCA also increases plan and network choice by encouraging states to use federal funds to promote participation in private insurance outside failing ACA exchanges, encourages Americans to take advantage of preventive care services and reduces costs in the individual market that have increased dramatically since the ACA took effect. This bill is not the final product—it is not law. It is simply one solution that offers a way out of the restrictive, costly and unsustainable ACA and moves deliberations to the Senate for consideration. I have faith that the Senate will keep their eyes on what matters most for residents of Illinois, including improving access to affordable coverage and high-quality care regardless of health status, income or age. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues and the Trump administration to improve this legislation on the road ahead.
I am very disappointed that the Senate didn't stay at the table to find a way forward to bring down skyrocketing premiums and address the failing ACA system. The healthcare status quo is unacceptable—doing nothing is not an option. Illinois’ ACA health exchanges provide substandard care at outrageous prices for residents without employer-sponsored coverage. Families in my district on the ACA exchange will be offered one choice for their insurance next year if nothing changes. In the coming weeks we'll get a glimpse of what this true insurance monopoly will mean for those who can't afford any more premium increases. These facts can’t be ignored. Further, Medicaid must be restored to its original mandate to provide a safety net to the truly needy. I urge the Senate to take up health reform again. Illinois individuals and families can’t wait.
Today, I could not in good conscience vote for the massive $1.1 trillion spending bill with little reforms or reductions to the spending of taxpayer dollars. It does nothing to reverse the growth of our national debt now nearing $20 trillion. Another continuing resolution moves us farther from regular order and the path of meaningful debt reduction. It doesn’t follow through on the promises we made to Americans calling for a change in direction. Our constituents, our kids and our grandkids deserve better.