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Commerce Secretary Gary Locke's Statement on U.S. House of Representatives Vote to Repeal the Affordable Care Act

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Today, House Republicans cast a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It is a vote both to make American businesses less competitive in the global economy and to diminish the added control American families now have over their health care decisions.

Just 10 months after its passage, the Affordable Care Act has brought badly needed change to the American health care system, with families now having the security that their children won't be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition or that their insurance company will cap the dollar amount insurance companies will spend on benefits like cancer treatment.

Repeal would jeopardize this newfound security for American families. But from my perspective as Commerce Secretary, the most damaging aspect of repeal would be how it would affect the competitiveness of American businesses and their workers. The fact is that prior to passage of the Affordable Care Act, U.S. companies were dealing with a runaway, healthcare cost train with absolutely no mechanism to put on the brakes. 

These costs were forcing companies to ship jobs overseas and making it tougher for them to compete with foreign competitors who almost universally had lighter health care costs.

The cost-saving measures in the Affordable Care Act will help slow the growth of these burdensome health care costs. According to the Business Roundtable, large companies alone could save $3,000 per employee in health care costs under the reform. Meanwhile, if reform were repealed, American small businesses would be on the hook for nearly $2.4 trillion in healthcare costs over the next 10 years. 

All Americans should know that if Congress succeeds in repealing the Affordable Care Act, it is not going to be replaced with something better. It will be replaced with the same system that was making U.S. businesses less competitive in the global economy and breaking the backs of American families and our government.