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Opening Statement of Ranking Member Sander Levin at Hearing on the President's Budget with Secretary Sebelius

Targeted News Service

WASHINGTON, March 12 -- The Ranking Democratic Member of the House Ways and Means Committee issued the following statement:

Madam Secretary, welcome. We really do welcome you here. It is a chance to have some dialogue. I hope that's what will occur. Instead of dialogue what we've really had from the Republicans is diatribe. And we're going to see that further this week when there's an effort to take up our reform of SGR that's on a bipartisan basis, and fund it with essentially the destruction of the Affordable Care Act.

The New York Times talks about today where the enrollment is. And it's interesting Republicans often used to talk about Medicare Part D and how it proceeded. The Energy and Commerce Committee is going to come out with a report this morning, and it's going to say that that ACA enrollment as a percentage of projected enrollment is already better than Part D's voluntary enrollment, so I hope you'll be able to set the record straight. It's short of the original goal, and I hope you'll address that, where we are, what the figures really mean, and also you may want to comment on the fact that three million young adults have already gained access to health insurance through their parents' policies, which would not have happened if it weren't for the ACA.

I just want to give one example of what this has meant for people in this country. A person from Brighton, Michigan, in her 30s, has lupus, a pre-existing condition. She hasn't had insurance in six years because it was simply too expensive. She lived in constant fear of getting sick or injured and she said, and I quote: "There are a lot of things I haven't done - I used to like to ski and mountain bike, but I knew that if I broke a wrist it would cost me $10,000. It's that constant worry of 'what happens if...'"

The real contrast is an ad that has been running in Michigan about a cancer patient and I won't go into the details, but essentially she said her policy was unaffordable through the marketplace. The ad's been funded by over a million dollars from Americans for Prosperity. It turns out, according to the Detroit News and others, that that ad, and that statement, together are just false. It turns out that this person will save more than $1,000 a year.

So Madam Secretary, I hope you'll use your time to acknowledge the problems with the website at the beginning. And put in perspective what's happened since then and where we're going, and, indeed, to have a dialogue. What has been most short in the discussion of ACA has been dialogue.

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