Washington, D.C. – Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) today spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives in support of the Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act, which he said addresses “yet another flaw that has to be corrected in the Affordable Care Act due to the rushed and forced process by which the bill was passed in 2010.”
Burgess, Vice-Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, said the bill would allow Congress to correct and clarify the ACA’s impact on expatriate health care plans, preventing more than 1,000 Americans from losing their jobs as a result of the President’s health care law.
“The legislation before us today is a clear example of why a top-down, federal approach to health care doesn’t work,” Burgess said. “Consumers should be in the drivers’ seat in deciding what works best for themselves and their families, not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.
Burgess, who also sits on the House Rules Committee, delivered his statement while managing House Resolution 555 that provided for consideration of this bill on the floor of the House.
The full text of his statement is below.
“Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all members have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks.
“House Resolution 555 provides for consideration of yet another flaw that has to be corrected in the Affordable Care Act due to the rushed and forced process by which the bill was passed in 2010. As a direct result of this sloppy and hasty legislating, experts have estimated that over 1,000 Americans could lose their jobs unless Congress takes immediate action to correct and clarify the ACA’s impact on expatriate health care plans. This bill before us today will do just that, putting Americans above partisan politics, and helping yet another subset of people in our country who are currently being harmed by the President’s signature law.
“The rule before us today provides for one full hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Ways and Means. Further, the rule provides for the adoption of an amendment by the bill’s authors, Representatives Nunes from California and Carney from Delaware which addresses a number of concerns the minority expressed during debate of this legislation several weeks ago. True to the Speaker’s commitment of letting the House work its will, Republicans listened to those concerns and crafted a bipartisan amendment to improve this legislation. In addition, the rule provides the minority the standard Motion to Recommit.
“H.R. 4414, the Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act of 2014, addresses the problem caused by the Affordable Care Act which could result in those Americans who live abroad for a substantial portion of the year – referred to as expatriates – losing their health coverage because of the one-size fits all approach to our health care system employed by the ACA. Expatriate health care providers have traditionally offered tailored, specialized insurance plans to meet the needs of Americans who spend their time oversees. These citizens cannot simply rely on a local, general practitioner or neighborhood clinic because they are so often on the road and away from home.
“However, the ACA does not provide an avenue by which these plans can continue to be offered. Instead, Senator Reid, Kathleen Sebelius, and Barack Obama decided it was up to them to decide how Americans’ health insurance plans could be structured. The legislation before us today is a clear example of why a top-down, federal approach to health care doesn’t work. Consumers should be in the drivers’ seat in deciding what works best for themselves and their families, not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.
“Because of the regulations in the ACA, insurers have announced that they will have to shift their expatriate operations overseas in order to be in compliance with the law. And with those operations, will go those jobs. All Americans know that it was shown to be an empty promise that ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.’ It’s a good thing the President never promised ‘If you like your job, you can keep it.’ Over 1,000 jobs tied to expatriate health care operations will be shipped overseas. And Americans who rely on these niche health care plans which have until now worked so well for them and their families will have to scramble to find alternative coverage.
“Some examples of those Americans who will potentially lose their health care coverage due to the unyielding regulations in the ACA include businessmen and women, pilots, foreign aid workers, ship operators, and tour guides. The President has already acknowledged that his law will hurt these Americans, announcing that HHS would, yet again, ignore the law and provide a temporary waiver from complying with the law’s requirements. But this isn’t how you fix flawed legislation. You come to Congress and you ask that the law be amended – for a so-called constitutional scholar, the president seems to have only read Article 2 of the Constitution, skipping over entirely the first and longest Article, where the Founders made the Congress the body where laws are passed and amended. As a result of the President making this change unilaterally, the relief is only temporary. The bill before us today provides the long-term certainty that is required to give these affected Americans and their families the certainty they need to make decisions for their futures.
“These expatriate plans are not bare-bones plans that some in this body have criticized. They are typically robust, comprehensive plans which simply cater to the special needs to Americans who travel for a good portion of the year.
“The amendment by Representatives Nunes and Carney which is adopted in the rule before us takes a thoughtful piece of legislation and improves it even further. It clarifies that any future plans offered to expatriates must still comply with the actuarial requirements in the ACA, as well as any pre-ACA laws, including the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, known as ERISA, and the Public Health Service Act. Moreover, it narrowly tailors this relief to those Americans who spend more than 180 days outside the country. These were concerns that Democrats expressed during the previous debate on this legislation, and they are fully addressed in the legislation before us today.
“This is a carefully crafted fix to a poorly crafted law. It is needed to help Americans who are being directly harmed by the President’s health care law.
“I encourage my colleagues to vote YES on the Rule and YES on the underlying bill. With that I reserve the balance of my time.”