Representative Coleman’s Statement on Passage of Historic Health Care Legislation
March 21, 2010

 

 Houston–State Representative Garnet F. Coleman (D-Houston) released the following statement in response to the passage of historic health care legislation by the U.S. House of Representatives.

We got it done. With President Obama’s signature, health care coverage will be the law of the land.

Thanks to the members of Texas’ Democratic Congressional Delegation for providing the votes and the hard work that got reform across the finish line. Their votes will help clean up the health care crisis in Texas that Rick Perry and Republican leaders have refused to address.

After years of being victimized by the colossal abuses of the health care status-quo, Texans and Americans scored a victory. The health care legislation passed today will give health insurance access to 31 million Americans and most of our state’s 6 million uninsured residents.

Today’s accomplishments take the advantage away from the insurance companies and put it back in the hands of Texans and the American people. No longer will Americans be driven into debt by health care costs, be denied coverage based on a preexisting condition, and be indiscriminately dropped from their policy when they’re sick and need it most.

Because of our dismal health standings, Texas stands to gain the most from this legislation. I intend to work hard to ensure that this legislation is implemented effectively in our state, so that quality health care becomes more affordable and more accessible for all of our families.

This legislation moves Texas and America forward. Our country is back on the right path.

Representative Coleman is available for comment.

Representative Coleman is a member of President Barack Obama’s 32-member White House Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform.  He is also the chair of the County Affairs Committee in the Texas House of Representatives, chair of Progressive States Network, chair of the Legislative Study Group and senior ranking member of the Public Health Committee.

###

The President’s Executive Order
March 21, 2010

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

_____________________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release                           March 21, 2010

STATEMENT FROM COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR DAN PFEIFFER

Today, the President announced that he will be issuing an executive order after the passage of the health insurance reform law that will reaffirm its consistency with longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion.

While the legislation as written maintains current law, the executive order provides additional safeguards to ensure that the status quo is upheld and enforced, and that the health care legislation’s restrictions against the public funding of abortions cannot be circumvented.

The President has said from the start that this health insurance reform should not be the forum to upset longstanding precedent.  The health care legislation and this executive order are consistent with this principle.

The President is grateful for the tireless efforts of leaders on both sides of this issue to craft a consensus approach that allows the bill to move forward.

A text of the pending executive order follows:

Executive Order

 

– – – – – – –

 

ensuring enforcement and implementation of abortion restrictions in the patient protection and affordable care act

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (approved March ­­__, 2010), I hereby order as follows:

Section 1.  Policy. 

Following the recent passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“the Act”), it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered), consistent with a longstanding Federal statutory restriction that is commonly known as the Hyde Amendment.   The purpose of this Executive Order is to establish a comprehensive, government-wide set of policies and procedures to achieve this goal and to make certain that all relevant actors—Federal officials, state officials (including insurance regulators) and health care providers—are aware of their responsibilities, new and old. 

The Act maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions governing abortion policy and extends those restrictions to the newly-created health insurance exchanges.  Under the Act, longstanding Federal laws to protect conscience (such as the Church Amendment, 42 U.S.C. §300a-7, and the Weldon Amendment, Pub. L. No. 111-8, §508(d)(1) (2009)) remain intact and new protections prohibit discrimination against health care facilities and health care providers because of an unwillingness to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

Numerous executive agencies have a role in ensuring that these restrictions are enforced, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  

 

Section 2.  Strict Compliance with Prohibitions on Abortion Funding in Health Insurance Exchanges.  The Act specifically prohibits the use of tax credits and cost-sharing reduction payments to pay for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered) in the health insurance exchanges that will be operational in 2014.  The Act also imposes strict payment and accounting requirements to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services in exchange plans (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered) and requires state health insurance commissioners to ensure that exchange plan funds are segregated by insurance companies in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, OMB funds management circulars, and accounting guidance provided by the Government Accountability Office. 

I hereby direct the Director of OMB and the Secretary of HHS to develop, within 180 days of the date of this Executive Order, a model set of segregation guidelines for state health insurance commissioners to use when determining whether exchange plans are complying with the Act’s segregation requirements, established in Section 1303 of the Act, for enrollees receiving Federal financial assistance.  The guidelines shall also offer technical information that states should follow to conduct independent regular audits of insurance companies that participate in the health insurance exchanges.  In developing these model guidelines, the Director of OMB and the Secretary of HHS shall consult with executive agencies and offices that have relevant expertise in accounting principles, including, but not limited to, the Department of the Treasury, and with the Government Accountability Office.  Upon completion of those model guidelines, the Secretary of HHS should promptly initiate a rulemaking to issue regulations, which will have the force of law, to interpret the Act’s segregation requirements, and shall provide guidance to state health insurance commissioners on how to comply with the model guidelines.

Section 3.  Community Health Center Program.  

The Act establishes a new Community Health Center (CHC) Fund within HHS, which provides additional Federal funds for the community health center program.  Existing law prohibits these centers from using federal funds to provide abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered), as a result of both the Hyde Amendment and longstanding regulations containing the Hyde language.  Under the Act, the Hyde language shall apply to the authorization and appropriations of funds for Community Health Centers under section 10503 and all other relevant provisions.  I hereby direct the Secretary of HHS to ensure that program administrators and recipients of Federal funds are aware of and comply with the limitations on abortion services imposed on CHCs by existing law.  Such actions should include, but are not limited to, updating Grant Policy Statements that accompany CHC grants and issuing new interpretive rules.

Section 4.  General Provisions.  

(a) Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:  (i) authority granted by law or presidential directive to an agency, or the head thereof; or (ii) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This Executive Order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This Executive Order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity against the United States, its departments, agencies, entities, officers, employees or agents, or any other person.

THE WHITE HOUSE,

The Battle Over Health Care
March 20, 2010

Texas leaders, like the rest the rest of the country, are divided over the need for health care reform.   The issue continues to fall along party lines, while the people who need heath care are stuck in the middle with no voice.

On Friday,  republican elected officials including Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker of the House Joe Straus today sent a letter asking the Texas Congressional Delegation to “put Texas first and vote against the federal government’s takeover of health care.”  To view the letter, please visit: http://governor.state.tx.us/files/press-office/O-CongressionalDelegation20100319.pdf.

Meanwhile, State Representative Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) joined with other lawmakers who say they’re concerned about  hardworking Texans who don’t have and can’t afford health care.  The letter was signed by fifteen other democrats.

March 19, 2010

Dear Texas Members of Congress,

Thank you for all the work you have done over the last year to ensure that your constituents — and all Texans and Americans — have access to quality, affordable health insurance. As state legislators who have spent years working towards those same goals, we know firsthand the positive impact your work will have on our state. We are writing to request you vote for healthcare legislation this weekend.

You may have received a letter from the Republican leadership in Texas, asking you to join them in opposition to reform. Most of their arguments are dated and not applicable to the version of legislation you will be voting on this weekend. Specifically, they cite as a reason for opposition a cost estimate that is not calculated on the reconciliation version of health insurance reform legislation going to the floor of the House. Additionally, they employ diversionary tactics like decrying the legislation as unconstitutional and citing “special deals” like the Nebraska Compromise. It should be noted that their constitutional arguments have been soundly refuted by legal experts and that the so called “special deals” have been removed through the reconciliation bill.

Last session, Governor Perry vowed to veto a buy-in plan for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that had broad, bipartisan support. Left to his leadership, our common constituents will never see relief from the healthcare burdens they face. The people of Texas are counting on you to bring reasonable and needed change to our health insurance system.

The cost estimate they cite is not current, is based on a different timeline than CBO scores, does not take into consideration changes like revised Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) funding in the reconciliation bill, and does not note the fact that Texas stands to gain over $120 billion in new federal dollars during the first ten years of the legislation’s implementation.

The President’s plan means that the federal government would pay for 100 percent of the costs of covering newly eligible people for four years, making Texas one of the leaders of the pack in dollars received and policy changes from the federal government that solve our health care crisis.

It’s time to rewrite the rules in favor of the American people.  The legislation is a carefully crafted package which will insure 32 million Americans, give unprecedented security and stability to those with insurance, and cut the federal deficit by $1.3 trillion over 20 years. Health insurance reform will provide immediate relief to Texas families and small businesses.

It’s clear that Texas needs federal healthcare reform.  We’ll continue to fight on a state level regardless of the outcome, but we can’t really win the fight against the worst practices of the insurance industry without the help of our elected members of Congress and people of good will.

We support you and urge you to vote in favor health reform this weekend. Thank you for all that you do on behalf of Texans. If we may ever be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

 Garnet F. Coleman Leticia Van De Putte

Senator Hutchison Targeted By Tea Party Society
December 20, 2009

As the U.S. Senate moves closer to voting on a health care reform plan, 2 on The Beat has received word about a Tea Party protest  that is scheduled to take place on Monday, December 21,  in front of  Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s offices in Houston and Austin.

Three tea party groups –  Houston , Katy and San Jacinto – are uniting for the protest.  Members say their actions are designed  to, “stiffen Senator Hutchison’s spine and encourage her to hold rank with fellow republican lawmakers who oppose the health care bill.”

The Tea Party Society is upset that Senator Hutchison, along with  Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins,  joined with Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid  in voting to break a republican filibuster on a defense spending bill on Friday.

The vote also  removed one of the last remaining obstacles on health care reform and moves the bill closer to passage in the Senate.

In press reports over the weekend  Senator Hutchison said she did support the Republican filibuster, but once it became clear that Democrats had the votes to end it  she wanted to support the  troops.

“We must rise above political bickering and ensure that nothing delays our troops from having the funds necessary to carry out their mission,” the Senator told the Dallas Morning News.

http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2009/12/gov-rick-perry-continues-to-pr.html

So, it appears that by supporting the troops, Senator Hutchison has also stepped on a political landmine leading up to the March 2010 Republican Party primary.

Governor Rick Perry, who is closely tied to the conservative Tea Party Society movement, is heavily criticizing the Senator for voting with the democrats. 

The Houston event is scheduled from 5:00pm – 7:00pm, in front of  Senator Hutchison’s office in the Mickey Leland Building, 1919 Smith Street.

UPDATE:  Jennifer Baker, a spokesperson for Hutchison’s campaign, says the Senator is “fighting tooth and nail against the government takeover of health care.  There is no one more opposed to this bill than Senator Hutchison. She has an alternative plan with Senator Jim DeMint to increase access and affordability to health care is based on free market principles and not a government-run plan that cuts medicare, balloons the debt and raises taxes like the Democrats are proposing. But, at this point the democrats have blocked all republican input.  She will be there at 1:00 a.m. Monday morning voting against the bill.”