WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) joined Members of the Maryland Congressional Delegation, Maryland legislative leaders, the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, and the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange on a press call today to discuss the 10th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. The call was led by Vinny DeMarco, President of the Maryland Health Care for All Coalition. Below is a transcript of his remarks:
“Let me say, we are celebrating the adoption of an extraordinarily important bill. I was glad as Majority Leader to put it on the Floor, and Speaker Pelosi’s leadership was critical to its passage. I want to also thank the state legislators that we have on the call, but to all the members of the General Assembly who have been so forward leaning in protecting that which was gained by the passage of the Affordable Care Act and making sure that our citizens are not hurt by efforts at federal level to undermine the Affordable Care Act.
“Ten years ago, Democrats took bold action to reform our nation’s broken health care system, which left tens of millions uninsured and millions more facing discrimination. Because of the Affordable Care Act, Vinny, today 20 million more Americans are covered. Perhaps a little less than that number because of actions taken by the Trump Administration, but millions of Americans are covered. There are no more annual or lifetime limits on coverage, and Americans with pre-existing conditions cannot – and that is such an important aspect – cannot be turned away when purchasing insurance because of a pre-existing condition. As Senator [Chris] Van Hollen and Senator [Ben] Cardin have pointed out, the Administration through lawsuits and other actions taken, are trying to undermine and, frankly, repeal those protections.
“As I understand it, more than 400,000 Marylanders now have insurance than before the Affordable Care Act. And Vinny, I want to thank you, the organization you head, and so many other citizen activists who have made that the case, along with those of us who have been given the responsibility to vote on policies. But Vinny, you have been extraordinary in your leadership.
“In Maryland and other states, the Medicaid expansion has helped low-income families access affordable, high-quality care. It is so very important that every person [can access coverage]. Universal coverage is our objective and must be our reality very soon. After the law’s implementation of the ACA, the number of Marylanders covered through Medicaid and CHIP rose 53%, and we made significant progress bringing down costs and increasing the quality of care for patients.
“I’m proud of the fact that Maryland has been in the vanguard and leadership of implementing these reforms and serving as a model for other states. Senator Van Hollen talked about the easy enrollment system; it’s like voting. We need to make health care and voting are not only accessible, but guaranteed and that the government makes it easier for people to sign up, not more difficult.
“Now, Vinny, as so many of you have mentioned already, we face an unprecedented pandemic, which emphasizes how critically important having full health care coverage for everybody is. We are seeing just how important the health care system is for our economy and for the individual well-being of our people. And we need to make sure that every Marylander has expanded access beyond the ACA to health care.
“Now, we are seeing, Vinny, public health challenges that remind us that we are all in this together, and we know that the health of every other American ultimately is very important to our own personal health. I use an example: I have grandchildren going to be in school. I want the kid in front of them, the kid to their left, the kid to their right, the kid behind them, I want them healthy too. They may not be members of my family, but they are people who will affect the health and well-being of my family.
“That’s why our Maryland Democratic Congressional Delegation has been working hard to defend the ACA and fight back against Republican efforts to sabotage that law. [Republicans] passed a [bill]. The President was happy about that [bill], had a celebration at the White House, and two weeks later upon reflection, the President called it a mean bill. By that, he meant it undermined the health of people who needed health coverage.
“We will not relent in that effort. And we will continue to partner with groups like Maryland Health Care for All Coalition to demonstrate the grassroots support for the ACA, which is frankly growing every day and continues to get strength.
“And let me say in closing, Vinny, because I know we have a lot of reporters on the call, I am urging the President of the United States to direct, urge, and plead with every manufacturing firm in America who has capability to produce personal protection devices, whether they be face masks, whether they be gowns, whether they be gloves, whether they be respirators or ventilators. [I urge them] to immediately turn this extraordinary capacity that America has to make sure that the hospitals and caregivers and Americans [can access] these absolutely life-saving devices.
“As we recall the ACA passage, let us also recall that we have not finished our job of making sure that every American, not just 20 million additional Americans, but every American has the availability of affordable, quality health care. Vinny, thank you for your efforts and leadership to accomplish that objective.”