Skip to main content

Trump Administration
  U.S. Senate Approves Tom Price Nomination  CSPAN  February 9, 2017 5:59pm-8:00pm EST

5:59 pm
shows it. thank you very much. i yield the floor. ms. stabenow: thank you very much, mr. president. it's nice to see you presiding. mr. president, the decision made by the next secretary of health and human services will affect all of us and that's why we're here. that's why we have spent so much time and will continue to talk about the issues. this is not personal to an individual. it is about everyone in our country and how they are impacted by the ideas and the policies of this individual as well as the person who has nominated him. but this particular individual has a very clear record as to what he beliefs should happen as it relates to medicare -- medicare and medicaid and our
6:00 pm
entire health care system. more than 100 million people rely on programs like medicare, seniors, people with disabilities are on medicare. medicaid, the majority of money spent through the medicaid health care system goes to seniors in nursing homes. that's where the majority of dollars goes, long-term care for seniors. so congressman price's ideas, his proposals, the things he has pushed in the house matter because they show us what he believes should happen to medicaid and to medicare. we need to make sure that the next health and human services secretary will fight for the health care of families in michigan -- at least i need to be sure. that's where my vote goes, based
6:01 pm
on what's best for families in michigan, what's best for our communities, rural communities where the hospital like where i grew up in clare was the largest employer in the community, greatly affected and impacted by what happens to medicare and medicaid funding. if the hospital's not there, chances are the doctors aren't there either or the nurses. our larger communities where obviously our hospitals are critically important as well. and so when we look at communities and hospitals and doctors, families, children, seniors and the broad economy -- which, by the way, 1/6 of the whole economy in our country is health care, connected to health care. so who is in charge as secretary of health and human services is a big deal, which is why we have
6:02 pm
focused so much on this individual, his policies, his ideas and his own background as well. as we have gone through the confirmation process, it's clear to me that congressman price's policies do not, do not have the best interests of the people i represent in michigan at heart, which is why i will be voting no on his confirmation. i've heard from thousands of people around michigan. i've heard from people who run our hospitals and live in the community and business people and, again, nurses and doctors with great concerns, and i have also heard from people around the country and have helped to lead a forum for people to come
6:03 pm
and speak, people who were not invited into the actual hearing for the confirmation process. i thought it was important, as did my democratic colleagues, to have a forum where people could speak about the ideas, the bills, the policies that congressman price has passed in the house of representatives. so we heard a lot of stories and overwhelmingly people were opposed to this nominee. one of the people who shared her story was ann sarafin from michigan. i was very appreciative that she came in from michigan. ann was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 4 years old. it resulted in functional quadriplegia. she has limited use of her right arm, no use of her left arm. she is fortunate to have strong employee benefits and to be covered until she went on medicare at 65.
6:04 pm
by the way, this nominee thinks the age should go up, 66 or 67 or i'm not sure how far. but ann made it to 65, and like so many people that i know just was holding her breath to get there so she could have comprehensive quality health care that she paid into her whole life called medicare. over the course of the last few decades, the price of her prescription drugs have skyrocketed and would cost her tens of thousands of dollars a year without medicare and medicaid. for her, the decision about our health and human services secretary makes an enormous impact on her life. she told us without medicare and
6:05 pm
medicaid things would have been very different for my family. i don't know how i could have cared for my mom on top of managing my own care. my family would have lost our home, all of our savings trying to keep up with the bills. so many families are squeezed like ours, having to afford care for their aging parents and their own care or child care at the same time. but with support, we don't have to suffer to just be alive. if these programs are cut, if we see the kinds of proposals on medicare and medicaid that congressman price has put forward in the house, in the budget committee, people will face more catastrophes than ever before. you know, mr. president, our new president campaigned on a
6:06 pm
promise not to cut medicare and medicaid. he said himself -- quote -- i'm not going to cut social security like every other republican, and i'm not going to cut medicare and medicaid. but it doesn't square with the person he has nominated for this critical position who will be making administrative decisions as well as leading his efforts on health care, so acts speak louder than words. that's what we say in michigan. just this fall, congressman price says he expects medicare to be overhauled, overhauled within the first six to eight months of trump's administration. he also believes the age of eligibility needs to increase his words and that -- quote -- the better solution is premium
6:07 pm
support. what does that mean? that's another word for voucher. some people say privatization, but it's basically instead of having an insurance card and a health care system where you can go to the doctor and know that you're covered with insurance, you get some kind of a voucher or an amount of money, and then you would be able to go find your own insurance, i guess, or figure out a way to pay for your insurance. you know, before medicare, seniors were trying to figure that out and couldn't find affordable insurance in the private market, which is why in 1965 medicare was created. there is no way in the world i will support going backwards to that kind of approach. as chair of the budget committee, congressman price proposed a budget that would have cut medicare by nearly
6:08 pm
$500 million, not counting what he wants to do with medicaid, the majority of which goes to fund senior citizens in nursing homes. we need to have a secretary who supports making it easier and more affordable for people to get care, not less. let's talk about health care for a moment. in the broader sense. we know that more and more people, some 30 million people would be affected, their health insurance ripped away if the repeal was passed that has begun, the process has begun by republicans in the house and the senate. and the affordable care act has provided health care and the opportunity for people to get care, for children to be able to see a doctor.
6:09 pm
they are part of the country where we need more competition, where prices are too high. i want very much to work on that. i'm committed to working to make that system better, and we can do that without whipping the entire system apart. but there is also another part of the affordable care act that affects every single person with insurance, things that i know have made a tremendous difference to anybody with employer-based insurance. first of all, being allowed to have your child on your insurance to age 26. secondly, knowing that if you get sick, you can't get dropped by your insurance company. and if you have a chronic disease, something's happened to your health that you can't be blocked from getting insurance. but we also know things like making sure you can get all the
6:10 pm
cancer treatments your doctor says you need, not just those up to the cap that the insurance company will pay for. i have had pediatric cancer physicians tell me they have been able to save children's lives who have cancer because there is no longer a cap on the amount of care. mental health and substance abuse services where if they were covered at all before the affordable care act always cost more money. higher co-pays, higher premiums. now, you can't do that. you have to have the same kinds of co-pays and the same kinds of premiums. so so many patient protections that have basically said to insurance companies you don't get just based on profit to decide what's going to happen, that when you buy insurance, you actually get health care, and that is something true for everyone today. and so we have a secretary who
6:11 pm
supports doing away with all that, changing all that, who is not someone who is interested in having a basic set of services identified in health care like maternity care. i talked with him, questioned him at the finance committee. this is an area that i had championed when we passed the affordable care act to make sure that basic services for women were viewed as basic services in health care, and it starts with prenatal care and maternity care. and prior to the affordable care act, it was very hard to find private insurance that covered maternity care unless you wanted to pay more. some 70% of the plans out in the market are required to pay more. so i asked congressman price did
6:12 pm
he believe maternity care was a basic insurance and should be covered under basic insurance. he said well, women can purchase that if they need it. which is exactly what happened before, which is no, it's not basic care, but you can purchase it on top of your regular premium if you need maternity care. so right now the law says you can't discriminate and charge women more than men, and in fact being a woman is no longer a preexisting condition. but the person who the president has nominated for health and human services would take us back there, and he would take us back there on a whole range of areas that create access for people to be able to have the care they need. here's an example from a doctor in west michigan who wrote me regarding just basic medical
6:13 pm
care for someone in need. he said in december, a young man arrived in our emergency room with a badly mangled hand from a machining accident. he knew the hand was seriously injured and was willing to allow his co-worker to bring him into the hospital so that it could be stitched up. when our physician studied the wound, they knew he needed surgery to repair the bone and blood vessel damage. the patient refused, thinking the only thing he could possibly afford was stitches. they then connected this man with a financial services specialist who took a few minutes to find out that he was eligible for medicaid. working now because of the expassengers, able to receive health care under medicaid. -- expansion, able to receive health care under medicaid. he was then able to get the surgery he needed. beaumont physicians said that if
6:14 pm
the surgery hadn't happened, the man could have had an open wound for an indefinite amount of time, been prone to infection and possibly lost his hand entirely, making him unable to ever work at his job, or maybe any job again. expanding medicaid health care to working people, good idea, and millions of people have been impacted and have been able to get the care they need for themselves and for their children. access to health care saved this man's arm and possibly his life. and that's really what is at stake here, both with this nominee and the larger debate on where we're going to go in our country, our great country on the whole issue of health care.
6:15 pm
we all know that the secretary of health and human services' advice will be a strong influence on the president's decision to promote, to sign, to veto legislation. we know he has the ability administratively to do a number of things to cut off care, to cut off access to women's health care, to change the system that we have now, to destabilize it so that the affordable care act won't work. and i'm extremely concerned because of congressman price's record and his actual proposals and decisions and votes that he will be willing to actually do that. whether it's cutting medicare or medicaid or removing some of the critical policies that keep people healthy and care
6:16 pm
affordable, i'm deeply concerned with the decisions that this nominee will make and the recommendations that he will make to the president of the united states. again, we don't have to speculate about this. he's put these plans on paper. he supported them. he's passed them. and it's very clear we don't have to guess where he wants to go to dismantle medicare as we know it, to gut medicaid, most of which goes for seniors in nursing homes, and unravel the entire health care system and the patient protections that every person who has insurance has right now that allows them to get the health care that they are actually paying for. one other thing, mr. president, that i need to raise because this is very serious, and that goes to serious issues surrounding conflicts of
6:17 pm
interest and likely ethics violations that relate to this nominee. there are a lot of unanswered questions and serious concerns related to congressman price's investments in health care and pharmaceutical companies. he, frankly, misled the finance and the help committees -- and the help committee with answers to questions and just the night before he was to have a confirmation hearing and a vote, we learned from company officials that he got a privileged offer to buy stock at a discount. in other words, he got a special deal on health care stock. he told us he had not. they had paid fair market value even though it was already an issue that he had purchased stock and put legislation in related to similar companies or the same companies involved, but then we found out it was even
6:18 pm
worse because he had a special deal. we asked questions as democrats. we didn't want to move forward without -- so we can ask questions about what he had said to the committee versus the business that sold him the stock afterwards, and, unfortunately, that did not happen, requiring the finance committee to be in a situation where the rules ended up being broken and the nomination was forced through the committee without having bipartisan participation. i have a number of concerns related to the ethics and possibly legal violations of this nominee. on multiple occasions he did purchase stock within days of
6:19 pm
introducing legislation that would have affected that company's bottom line and his investment. despite multiple requests over several weeks, we still don't have the answers, and more importantly, the american people don't have the answers for the person who will oversee health insurance, oversee medicare, medicaid, the entire system, someone who has invested and then helped the same companies, indicated he didn't get a special deal, and now we have information that says otherwise. i think that's very concerning and should have been addressed before we were asked to vote on this particular nominee. mr. president, there are a
6:20 pm
number of reasons, policy, track record, questions that have been raised that i find extraordinary that they haven't been answered and shocking that folks haven't felt that they should be answered at this point, but for many, many reasons it is my intention to vote no on behalf of the people in michigan who care deeply about a strong, effective medicare system, about making sure medicaid's there for our children as well as our seniors in nursing homes, and for everyone who believes that in this great country we've got to have the ability -- we ought to have the ability to see a doctor and get the medical care for your child or yourself. mr. president, i would yield the floor.
6:21 pm
the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: thank you, mr. president. my understanding was that the minority leader -- the democratic leader wanted to come and speak for five minutes between senator stabenow and myself, but he's not here so i'm going to speak. how's that? i want to say something specifically to the presiding officer because he is a new senator from indiana before i start my remarks that i prepared. i read an article in "the new york times" just a few weeks ago -- a front-page article about -- and it featured indiana
6:22 pm
university -- their hospital there and the health positions there because there was an article there about the savings and the delivery reform that has been driven by the affordable care act and that -- things -- stuff that will be staying us with even if this is repealed, which i hope it isn't, but this is a quote i would like to read for the presiding officer. this is from gregory, the cochief of primary care for indiana university health physicians. i would just ask the president to -- for his attention for a second. this is what he says: i've been a registered republican my whole
6:23 pm
life, but i support the affordable care act said dr. gregory c.kiray, cochief of indiana university's health physicians because -- this is what he says -- because it allows patients to be taken care of. i -- i admit i didn't have 49 of these for every state, but i -- i had remembered this one. on february 3, 2009, tom daschle, president obama's nominee for secretary of health and human services, withdrew his
6:24 pm
nomination because he hadn't paid his taxes on his car service. on january 9, 2001, linda chavez, president george w. bush's nominee for the department of labor, withdrew her nomination after questions were raised about her decision to shelter an undocumented immigrant, and most recently vincent viola, president trump's nominee to be with the -- would the leader like -- would you like me to yield to you for a few minutes? mr. schumer: that would be gre great. mr. franken: would that be good for me and my career? mr. schumer: you your career is so good you don't need it. mr. franken: i will yield to
6:25 pm
our leader in just a moment when he manages to get there and, it will be the esteeminged senator from new york, -- esteemed senator from new york. he's stepping over there, walking out to the podium, the leader, who i would yield to. mr. schumer: first -- the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. like i said, he doesn't need any help. he does it so well on his own. i will regard this as not a quid pro quo, but as an act of kindness and generosity. mr. president, i rise this evening to oppose the confirmation of representative tom price to be secretary of h.h.s. and urge my colleagues to vote no on his nomination. representative price might be the quintessence of president
6:26 pm
trump's cabinet, a creature of washington, deeply conflicted and far out of the mainstream when it comes to his views on health care. like other nominees, philosophically he seems completely opposed to the very purpose of his department . candidate trump promised he would not cut medicare or medicaid, but congressman price has spent his entire career trying to cut medicare and medicaid and dismantle the affordable care act. mr. president, just listen to these quotes. the nominee for secretary of health and human services has said -- quote -- "nothing has a the greater negative effect on the delivery of health care than the federal government's intrusion -- intrusion through medicare." that might have come out of the 1890s if we had medicare then. he said we -- -- quote --
6:27 pm
"within the first six to eight months" of this new administration. does that sound like someone who doesn't want to cut medicare and medicaid? it doesn't to me. it doesn't to the american people. in fact, if you could pick someone who in either house of congress was most likely to cut medicare and medicaid, you would pick congressman price. it do not be more of a contradiction to what candidate trump promised in the campaign. so, mr. president, here's what worries me: from what i know of the president, he will creed great authority to cabinet officials, content to jump from one poppic to the next, one tweet to the next, i would put greater stock in price's record than anything the president promised during the campaign, and that is very bad news for seniors and the american people in general. and for that reason, every
6:28 pm
american who receives benefits from those programs, the millions of american seniors, women, families, and people with disabilities should be gravely concerned about what the tenure of a secretary tom price will mean for their health. mr. president, make no mistake, in the dark hours of the early morning with the confirmation of secretary price, the republicans launch the first assault in their war on seniors. the war on seniors begins when we select secretary price over our votes as secretary of health and human services. when it comes to the health care of older americans confirming price to be secretary of h.h.s.
6:29 pm
is akin to having the fox guard the hen house. when price was in the house, he was in several questionable practices relating stock and there were many instances, to save time, i won't go through them, but ask that they be placed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. these allegations alone might be enough to sink another nominee in another administration, but it seems this cabinet is so rife with ethic challenges that represent price's conduct in the house doesn't place him too far outside this unethical norm. mr. president, that should be no excuse. when you're a congressman or senator, you must endeavor to avoid even a hint of a conflict of interest, let alone a situation where you are trading stocks that may be impacted. so, mr. president, this is a sad
6:30 pm
evening. the war on seniors by the trump administration begins when we confirm representative price. people will look back back and say that the republican war on seniors began at 2:00 a.m. on friday morning when the senate unfortunately confirmed tom price. i urge my colleagues to vote no. i yield the floor and once again thank my colleague. mr. franken: thank you, mr. leader. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: thank you, mr. president. i'm going to start this over fresh. i don't know if the congressional record needs to -- to have this first half paragraph twice, but so be it. on february 3, 2009, tom
6:31 pm
daschle, president obama's nominee for secretary of health and human services, withdrew his nomination because he hadn't paid his taxes on his car service. on january 9, 2001, linda chavez, president george w. bush's nominee for the department of labor, withdrew her nomination after questions were raised about her decision to shelter an undocumented immigrant. and most recently, vincent viola, trump's nominee -- president trump's nominee to be secretary of the army, withdrew his nomination after it proved too difficult to distance himself from his business ties. congressman price's conflicted financial investments and his affiliation with conspiracy theory peddling extremists should be enough to disqualify his nomination. but on top of that, congressman
6:32 pm
price's policy agenda squarely contradicts what the majority of the american people want, and the key promises that president trump made during his campaign. it's frankly hard to believe that we are seriously considering someone who has advanced policies that would privatize medicare, cut medicaid and rip coverage away from millions of americans. for all these reasons, i strongly oppose congressman price's nomination for secretary of health and human services. now, let's take these issues one by one. first, congressman price's stock trades. public documents show that between 1993 and 2012, congressman price owned shares in tobacco companies worth tens of thousands of dollars. at the same time, congressman
6:33 pm
price voted against landmark legislation in 2009 that gave the food and drug administration the authority to regulate tobacco and bring down the death toll inflicted by tobacco products. that means congressman price, a physician who swore to uphold the hippocratic oath of do no harm, voted against public health and for big tobacco. this is the person who is slated to become the next secretary of health and human services, someone who personally profited from increased sales of deadly addictive products. when asked about this during his hearing in the health, education, labor and pensions committee, congressman price's best defense was that his broker made these stock trades on his behalf without his knowledge. but here is the problem with
6:34 pm
that defense. first, congressman price annually reported his financial holdings, signing off on documents acknowledging that his investments in tobacco companies, meaning that he would have knowledge of the fact that his vote to block tobacco regulation could have a direct financial benefit to him. second, these were not investments in diversified funds. these were individual stocks that he owned for nearly 20 years and that he reported paid him dividends. let me repeat that. congressman price, a medical doctor, owned individual tobacco company stocks that paid him dividends. but owning tens of thousands of dollars of tobacco stocks while voting to help tobacco companies
6:35 pm
was not congressman price's only questionable investment. in late december, the "wall street journal" reported that over the past four years, congressman price has traded stocks worth more than $300,000 in about 40 health-related companies, while at the same time serving on the house ways and means committee where he drafted and cosponsored legislation that could affect his investments. let's talk about one example that is public troubling. congressman price made his largest ever stock purchase in a company called innate immuno therapeutics, a small biotech company based in australia. this is a company that has only one experimental therapy in the
6:36 pm
early stages of testing. it has never generated revenues from drug sales. it is not exactly a household name. so how did congressman price get in on this sweetheart deal? well, he was told about innate by congressman chris collins, who in addition to being a member of the house of representatives, serves on the board of directors for innate immunotherapeutics and is the company's largest shareholder. "the wall street journal" reported that congressman price was part of a small group of fewer than 20 u.s. investors who participated in the private stock sale. "the new york times" and "the buffalo news" reported that many of those people had close ties to congressman collins, including collins' chief of staff, a prominent d.c. lobbyist, and several of
6:37 pm
congressman collins' campaign contributors. on august 31, congressman price reported that as part of this special private stock sale, he bought about 400,000 shares of innate stock for as little as 18 cents a share. that same day, the stock was trading on the australian stock exchange for the equivalent of 31 cents per share. that's a 42% difference. 42% below the market price, and congressman price now stands to make a profit of more than $200,000. that's -- that's quite a stock tip. richard painter, george w. bush's chief ethics lawyer, describes price's stock trades as -- quote -- crazy.
6:38 pm
he wouldn't have put up with anybody in the bush administration buying and selling health care stocks -- end quote. painter went on to explain that -- quote -- if you as a member of congress buy and sell health care stocks at the same time, you are possessing nonpublic information about that legislation, you are taking the risk of being charged with criminal insider trading. criminal insider trading. end quote. so let me repeat that. mr. painter, who is george w. bush's white house chief ethics official, suggested that mr. price's actions risk a criminal insider trading charge. now, congressman price could
6:39 pm
have directed his broker to stay away from tobacco stocks. he could have directed his broker to stay away from health care stocks or individual stocks all together, given that health care was one of his legislative priorities. but he did not. why would congressman price take this risk? my colleagues and i have sent congressman price a number of letters asking for more information about his stock trades and investments. if this is all aboveboard, then congressman price should have nothing to hide. i also committed questions for the record as a member of the help committee. in response to all of these questions, i have received
6:40 pm
nothing. it makes no sense that his nomination has been brought to the floor despite his refusal to respond to committee questions. congressman price has demonstrated a lack of judgment with his stock trades and now is stonewalling the committee, refusing to answer our inquiries, but congressman price's questionable stock trades aren't the only area raising red flags. my second set of concerns stem from congressman price's long-standing association with conspiracy peddling antiscience extremists for more than 25 years, congressman price has been a dues-paying member of the association of american physicians and surgeons.
6:41 pm
he's spoken at the organization's conferences and even described the organization's executive directors -- director as one of his personal heroes. this organization is way out of the mainstream. it promotes antivaccine pseudoscience and denies the scientific fact that h.i.v. causes aids. it's an organization that blames -- quote -- swarms of immigrant children for disease and has published scientifically discredited theories linking abortion to breast cancer. at one point, it even accused president barack obama of hypnotizing voters with -- quote -- neurolinguistic programming. let me repeat that. it accused president barack
6:42 pm
obama of hypnotizing voters with -- quote -- neurolinguistic programming. but that's not all. the statement of principles for the association of american physicians and surgeons has an entire section devoted to urging doctors to refuse to participate in medicare in which it says the effect of such government-run programs is -- quote -- evil, and participation in carrying out its provisions is, in our opinion, immoral -- end quote. congressman price, a person poised to become the next secretary of health and human services, the person responsible for leading medicare has been an active, engaged member of this organization for 25 years. just in case you don't think
6:43 pm
he's bought into these ideas, let me read you what congressman price wrote in 2009 in an op-ed. quote -- "i can attest that nothing has had a greater negative effect on the delivery of health care than the federal government's intrusion into medicine through medicare.." unquote. since congressman price won't answer my questions, i'll pose this to -- this one to my republican colleagues. how are the american people supposed to trust congressman price as secretary for health and human services, given that he's belonged to an organization for over 25 years that has such blatant disregard for science? and a propensity for putting
6:44 pm
partisanship and ideology above evidence? lastly and most importantly, the policy reforms that congressman price has put forward are so extreme that they should be disqualifying in and of themselves. an editorial recently published in the "new england journal of medicine" stated -- this is a quote -- as compared with his predecessor's actions, price's record demonstrates less concern for the sick, the poor and the health of the public and much greater concern for the economic well-being of their physician caregivers. end quote, from the "new england journal of medicine." and, mr. president, i ask consent to enter that article into the record. the presiding officer: without objection.
6:45 pm
mr. franken: thank you, mr. president. this article cites his votes against mental health parity. think about what that means in terms of treatment during this opioid crisis. against funding r aids, malaria and tuberculosis, against the expansion of the state health insurance program, against tobacco regulation, against the reauthorization of the violence against women act, and more. price has also been a champion of efforts to repeal the affordable care act. the congressional budget office recently estimated that if the a.c.a. is repealed, nearly 20 million americans will lose their health care coverage immediately with the number
6:46 pm
growing to 32 million over the next 10 years. 300,000 of those individuals live in my state of minnesota. let me tell you about at least two of them. leeanna has a 3-year-old son named henry. henry has been diagnosed with leukemia and his treatment will last at least until april of 2018. henry often needs around-the-clock care to manage his nausea, vomiting, pain, and sleepless nights. this is a 3-year-old boy. he is a 3-year-old boy.
6:47 pm
henry's immune system is to compromised that he is not supposed to go to day care, so his mother left her job to take care of him. their family is supported by her spouse but couldn't pay for henry's treatment on one salary. leeanna said -- quote -- "it is because of the a.c.a. that henry gets proper health care. henry can get therapy and the things he needs to maintain his health and work towards beating cancer. henry is still with us because of the a.c.a." let me say that again: henry is still with us because of the a.c.a. i've asked republicans repeate repeatedly to show me the plan
6:48 pm
they have to make sure that leeanna and her son henry and the hundreds of thousands of minnesotans who have gained coverage don't lose the care that they need. i have yet to see their plan. what i seen congressman price advocate for so far is pretty awful. his proposals would strip away coverage for people with preexisting conditions, strip away preventive health benefits, strip away coverage for young adults. moreover, congressman price vi views medicaid and medicare as government expenditures be cut rather than lifelines of
6:49 pm
millions of seniors, disabled populations, children, and families. as chairman of the house budget committee, congressman price introduced proposals to cut funding for medicaid by more than $2 there will. -- by more than $2 trillion. in my state medicaid provides health insurance to 14% of the residents. that includes two out of five low-income individuals, one in four children, one in two people with disabilities, and one in two nursing home residents. think about that. one in two people in nursing homes are covered by medicaid in my state. what is going to happen to these people? our parents, our children, our
6:50 pm
spouses, our families if congressman price and his colleagues succeed in slashing medicaid's budget? i can guarantee you it won't be kind and it won't be just and americans are going to lose out. congressman price's assault on our health care system doesn't end there. he wants to slash medicare's budget by hundreds of billions of dollars undermining our basic guarantee of coverage to our nation's seniors. and no wonder because let me remind you this is the same person who wrote -- quote -- "i
6:51 pm
can attest that nothing has had a greater negative effect on the delivery of health care than the federal government's intrusion into medicine through medicare. do we really -- do we really want the person who wrote this to be running medicare? price's determination to gut medicaid and medicare is directly opposed by the vast majority of americans and in direct opposition to president trump's campaign promise never to cut medicaid or medicare. when tom daschle withdrew from consideration for h.h.s.
6:52 pm
secretary, he talked about the challenges of health care reform and said -- quote -- "this work will require a leader who can operate with the full faith of congress and the american people and without distraction. right now i am not that leader and will not be a distraction. so i say to congressman price: you do not have the full faith of the congress and you do not have the full faith of the american people. you are not the leader that this country needs and you should not be a distraction. since you have not withdrawn your nomination, i urge my colleagues to do the right thing and oppose this controversial nomination.
6:53 pm
i would suggest -- oh, no. i would yield the floor. -- i would yield the floor to my colleague from hawaii. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: i rise to speak about president trump's choice to lead the department of health and human services or h.h.s., congressman tom price. i am particularly concerned about this nominee because of the mixed messages president trump has been sending about health care. during the campaign, president trump promised to protect medicare and medicaid yet he has nominated congressman price to head h.h.s. congressman price has led the effort to privatize medicare and
6:54 pm
dismantle medicaid in the u.s. house. this is hardly someone who would protect medicare and medicaid. shortly before taking the oath of office, president trump said he supported the concept of universal coverage. he said -- quote --"we are going to have insurance for everybody. they can expect to have great health care." yet, he nominated congressman price, who has spent the past six years who tried to end universal health care coverage by appealing the affordable care act. president trump says a lot of things. he tweets his thoughts daily, but at this point instead of listening to what president trump says, we should pay attention to what he does, and my nominating congressman price, the president demonstrated he
6:55 pm
does not intend to protect access to quality affordable health care to all americans, not by protecting medicare and medicaid, not by protecting health insurance for all. president trump's health care agenda would have far-reaching, negative, painful consequences for tens of thousands of people in hawaii and millions all across the country. maybe president trump should tweet less and listen more. over thover the past few monthse heard from thousands of hawaii residents concerned that they will no longer be able to afford health care if president trump succeeds in repealing the affordable care act and privatizing medicare. i'd like to read a few of the messages i received. katherine from honolulu wrote -- quote -- "i am writing to you to express serious concern over the repealing of a.c.a. and other
6:56 pm
health insurance changes. as a working teacher and single parent of two young children, i am very afraid for our future. i am afraid my insurance will not cover my artsd right is if i -- arthritis if i change jobs, if i change companies, or if for some reason i lose my job. my medicine without insurance would cost more than my mortgage payment and would be cost prohibitive. if i don't have my medication, i would be in so much pain. i would be unable to work and therefore lose my insurance which would mean i would never be able to get coverage because of a preexisting condition. i am certain there are many other people out there with similar stories. please do everything you can to make sure this scenario doesn't happen to us. if there is anything i can do, please don't hesitate to let me
6:57 pm
know. i just don't know who else to turn to." next, i'd like to share a note i received from julie on the big island. quoting kwaouly "my -- julie "my husband and i are totally dependent on social security for income and medicare for our health plan. many millions of seniors are in the same situation as we are. please continue to fight for us as this horror of an administration goes forward. i shutter to think of what will happen if these programs are repealed or privatized." finally, i'd like to share ar heartbreaking story from desi from hawaii. she is a extremely hard-working teacher and mother of two children.
6:58 pm
desi is self-employed because she needs the flexibility to work and care for her daughter. this year as a sole propriety over the age of 55, her premiums rose to over $680 per month for 2016. in a letter she wrote to me, desi said -- quote -- "paying this high premium was no longer possible and jeopardizing my family's ability to pay for food and mortgage. she found an a.c.a. plan in 2017. she said if the a.c.a. is successfully repealed, we will no longer be able to afford medical coverage. families like ours are thes reasons why -- are the reasons why it is so important to defend the affordable care act. end of quote. these letters and stories demonstrate what is at stake for
6:59 pm
200,000 seniors on medicare in hawaii and millions more across the country. it is why i will continue to fight tooth and nail to prevent any cuts that would jeopardize our safety-net programs. the fight has already begun. last month republicans in congress pushed through a partisan budget resolution that would give them the tools they need to repeal the affordable care act. this is -- the affordable care act is also an assault on medicare and medicaid because the a.c.a. strengthened medicare and medicaid through closing the doughnut hole and providing prefree preventive -- free preventive checkups for seniors. i joined senator donnelly to block republicans from privatizing medicare. it would also prevent changes
7:00 pm
that reduce funding for medicaid. during the debate on our amendment, one of our republican colleagues in his opposition to the amendment basically made our point for us. he said something to the effect of a vote in favor of our amendment to protect medicare and medicaid is a vote against repealing the affordable care act. exactly. in the end, it was a close vote on our amendment, and while the amendment lost, i was encouraged that two of our republican colleagues, senator heller of nevada and senator collins of maine, voted in favor of the amendment. in the coming weeks and months, there would be other battles to protect medicare and medicaid. it's going to be a daunting fight, but i'm not going to shy away from it. i want to do whatever i can, whenever i can to protect the affordable care act, medicare and medicaid. in this fight, i strongly urge
7:01 pm
my colleagues to vote no on tom price's nomination to serve as secretary of health and human services. tom price is not the champion that millions of people in our country are counting on to protect their health and welfare. mr. president, i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
7:02 pm
7:03 pm
7:04 pm
7:05 pm
7:06 pm
7:07 pm
7:08 pm
7:09 pm
7:10 pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. engines: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. menendez: thank you. mr. president, i have come to the floor to speak on the nomination of congressman price to be the secretary of health and human services, but before i do, i must speak to the decision that the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit just decided in the case of the state of washington, the state of minnesota versus the president and the department of homeland security, and i am pleased to see that the courts of the united states are still part of the separate co-equal branch of government that the founders dictated when they
7:11 pm
ultimately created an ingenious document to the constitution of the united states that has served the nation well for so long. and even though it seems that the president may need a review of history and an understanding of the constitution as it relates to the separate co-equal branches of government because he seems to be wielding -- willing to try to disparage the judiciary as an effort to try to either affect their decisionmaking or to call into question the legality of their decisions or the righteousness of their decisions, i'm glad to see that that has not affected our judicial system. i just want to read from some elements of the court's decisions which i think are pretty extraordinary. of course, this is far from a
7:12 pm
final decision on the merits, but it was on a motion for a stay of the order of the district court that said basically the muslim ban could not be continued to be enforced. the court said, and i'm quoting for the minute, a unanimous opinion which speaks very powerfully to their decision. we therefore conclude that the states -- meaning the states of washington as well as the state of minnesota -- that the states have alleged harms to their proprietary interests traceable to the executive order. the necessary connection can be drawn in two very logical steps. one, the executive order prevents nationals of seven countries from entering washington and minnesota, and two, as a result, some of these people will not enter state universities, some of them will not join those universities as faculty, some will be prevented from performing research and some will not be permitted to
7:13 pm
return if they leave. we therefore hold that the states have standing, which was one of the critical legal bars. secondly, they opined on the reviewability of the executive order, and this is, i think, extraordinarily important. the court went on to say that yes, -- and i'm paraphrasing at this point -- that yes, the courts owe substantial deference to the immigration and national security policy determinations of the political branches, legislative and executive, but it went further to say -- quote -- "-- here i'm quoting. instead, the government has taken the position -- this is on behalf of the executive branch -- that the president's decisions about immigration policy, particularly when motivated by national security concerns, are unreviewable.
7:14 pm
unreviewable, even if those actions potentially couldn't convenient constitutional rights and protections. even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections. the government indeed asserts that it violates separation of powers for the judiciary to entertain a constitutional challenge to executive actions such as this one. i didn't really capture that the government had made that argument, but that's an extraordinary argument. the court went on to say, and i quote -- "there is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy. within our system, it is the role of the judiciary to interpret the law, a duty that will sometimes require the resolution of litigation challenging the constitutional authority of one of the three
7:15 pm
branches. we are called upon to perform that duty in this case. further, they say, and i quote -- "although our jurisprudence has long counseled deference to the political branches on matters of immigration and national security, neither the supreme court nor our court has ever held that courts lack the authority to review executive action in those arenas for compliance with the constitution." it's an extraordinary set of statements that the administration made saying that the president's actions are unreviewable in this regard. they further go on to say -- and i'm quoting again -- "nonetheless, courts are not powerless to review the political branch's actions with respect to matters of national security. it would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we
7:16 pm
would sanction the subversion of one of those liberties, which makes the defense of the nation worthwhile." well, i fully agree with the circuit court's determination in that regard, and it goes on to say, "although courts owe considerable defense, it is beyond question that the federal judiciary retains the authority to adjudicate constitutional challenges to executive action." all i can say is thank god. thank god that courts of the united states feel that they are not controlled by the executive branch in pursuing the decisions that are made, and this is a great day for democracy in our country and for the preservation of the separations of power.
7:17 pm
a great day, i think, from my own perspective that a ban that does not help the united states, that harms us, and is against every fiber of our being in the nature of the history of our nation, which was founded by those fleeing religious persecution ultimately today we restore that sense of our history and we restore who we are as a nation, both at home and across the world. but today's decisions in this regard are also important as we consider the nomination of congressman price. so i want to rise today along with so many of my completion to voice my strong -- along with so many of my colleagues, to voice my strong opposition to the conversation of congressman price to be the secretary of health and human services. i am a deeply concerned about his views on what is the core mission of health and human services, not only his career-long opposition to the
7:18 pm
very existence of medicaid and medicare but his wavering fidelity in science and his regressive views of women's health cared and the social safety net. the secretary of health and human services is one of the few cabinet positions that affects virtually every single man, woman, and child in america. it affects the health care of 56 million seniors on medicare, of 74 million low-income individuals and children on medicaid, and of 12 million americans who have enrolled in the affordable care act coverage p. but more than that, the department of health and human services is home to the world's leading institutions of research at the national institutes of health, of advancing public health and epidemiology at the centers for disease control and
7:19 pm
prevention, known worldwide of working to ensure that we have access to the most advanced, most effective and safest medications at the food and drug administration, and many other critical departments and agencies that we as americans rely on. now, many of our republican colleagues have pointed out that congressman price's history as an orthopedic surgeon is enough evidence that he is someone who should be in charge of the department of health and human services. now, i can't speak to his credentials and qualifications in the operating room, but i do have a constitutional obligation to speak about his credentials and qualifications to be the secretary of health and human services. so, mr. president, i can say without hesitation that his career in congress and his positions on key issues of policy have proven to me that he is not the right person for the
7:20 pm
job. throughout his time as a congressman, most recently as the chairman of the house budget committee, and during his confirmation process through the senate finance committee, of of which i am privileged to serve, it has become abundantly clear that congressman price views patients, including seniors on medicare and even those with private employer coverage, as nothing more than a source of revenue or a budget line-item. the characteristics that have defined congressman price's career run contrary -- contrary -- to the fundamental mission of the department of health and human services, and it should be a cause for concern across the aisle and across the country. despite the alternative reality portrayed during his confirmation hearings in both the finance committee and the health, education, and labor committee, congressman price's vision for our nation's health
7:21 pm
care system has been laid bare for the public to see for years. all one has to do is look at the legislation he has introduced and the radical budget proposals he, along with speaker ryan be, have been pushing through the house of representatives. so let's look at some of them. let's start by taking a look at his plan for medicare, which is by all intents and purposes a plan to fundamentally end medicare as we know it end medicare as we know it, despite congressman price's seeming denial of this fact when i asked him about it directly during his confirmation hearing. there is absolutely no other way to characterize his plan. it ends medicare as we know it. now, currently and for more than 50 years medicare has provided a guarantee -- a guarantee -- that
7:22 pm
word is critical here -- to seniors that they have coverage, a guarantee that they have coverage. access to care and the ability to, rest assured, their health care needs will be taken care of. it is a system in which they pay their entire working life n -- n a compact that has been made with the federal government that we will uphold our end of the deal and ensure that they have quality coverage to stay healthy. the affordable care act, despite the years' long gnashing of death and fake tears shed by some of my republican colleagues has improved upon this deal and made medicare stronger. it has extended the life of the medicare trust fund by more than a decade. it has saved seniors $27 billion on prescription drugs, and last year alone provided more than 40
7:23 pm
million seniors access to no-cost preventive services -- no-cost preventive services. in my home state of new jersey, last year seniors on medicare saved more than $263 on prescription drugs, and nearly1 million seniors were able to -- and nearly one million seniors were able to receive free preventive services. thankfully to the reforms, we're seeing far fewer hospital-acquired conditions and greater coordination of care that has resulted in a healthier population, in a more efficient health care delivery system. that reality stands in stark contrast to tom price's vision of what he thinks medicare should be and in stark contrast with a vast majority of seniors who want to protect the program for their loved ones and for themselves. now, unfortunately, president trump, who himself spent an
7:24 pm
entire campaign promising that he is -- quote -- "not going to cut medicare or medicaid" nominated a leading member of this radical anti-medicare movement to impose devastating cuts to the programs force seniors to pay higher costs and lower the quality of care throughout the health care system. congressman price's destructive legislative history on medicare does not lie. it's there. it's in the record. it's for anybody who wants to see it. it tells a stark truth about his desires to increase the eligibility age, about ending the guarantee -- the guarantee of coverage. you know, that's why we call that an entitlement. if you meet the criteria under the law, you are entitled to those health care services; you are guaranteed those health care services. but his whole legislative
7:25 pm
history is about ending the guarantee of coverage we currently have and replacing it with the possibility of coverage. the difference between guarantee and a possibility is a far, far too significant gulf to be able to overcome. but only if you can afford the difference between congressman price's coupon and the actual cost of care under his vision. while the congressional budget office has shown that this will unquestionably -- unquestionably -- increase costs for seniors. his dark view of medicare that, to quote congressman price, "nothing has a greater negative impact on health care than the federafederal government's intrn through medicare" -- that's an extraordinary statement. "nothing has a greater negative
7:26 pm
impact on health care than the federal government's intrusion" -- intrusion, mind you -- "through medicare" is understandably causing a lot of concern back home in new jersey, with many people who have been calling and writing me to express their thoughts. the dr. william thor of summit, new jersey, himself a retired surgeon of 50 years wrote in that "price's to privatize medicare indicates a lack of quern for americans who need health care coverage." i also heard from mccara davis who wrote in on behalf of her uncle who has end-stage renal disease and requires dialysis saying, "if trum "-- if price ae trump administration successfully move medicare to a voucher program, i fear that my
7:27 pm
uncle will not be able to afford the necessary coverage for his dialysis treatment. for me to battle to protect medicare is more than a political battle. it's more thank a theoretical battle. it is a deeply personal battle to protect a program that allows seniors to live with dignity during the twite o -- twilight f their lives." my personal connection to the medicare program stems not from my experience but that of my late mother angelina." for 18 long difficult years, my mother suffered from alzheimer's disease and during these years we watched as the strong, courageous woman drifted further and further away from us. and after her diagnosis, i like so many families across our nation hoped for the best. but we expected the worst. and while there were times recallly on when she seemed just fine, those times turned into
7:28 pm
lost moments and those lost moments eventually lasted forever. and at this point i had to wonder if all the moments of her life, her struggle to flee her homeland and seek freedom from the united states, of my youth and all of the time spent together were still in there, still with her somehow. or whether those memories were lost forever. but as her illness progressed, she lost her cognitive abilities and vauntsly we had to -- and eventually we had to admit to ourselves that our mother was no longer with us, until mercifully the good lord took her. throughout this experience, throughout her struggle fighting back against the progress of alzheimer's, our family knew that medicare would be there to provide her with access to the health care she needed. and i learned that medicare wasn't just there for her, it was there is for the rest of us, too, providing her with access to care while granting us the
7:29 pm
ability to focus on making the most of the limited time we had left together. medicare twhras to meet the -- medicare was there to meet the challenges of her illness as well as the intergenerational challenges that arise when caring for a parent in the twilight of their lives while simultaneously working to put your children through college. i lived it. i saw it. i understand it. and my mother would not have lived with the dignity that she deserved in the twilight of her life after working a lifetime and paying into medicare but for medicare as a guarantee. i know all too well that an unfounded -- or underfunded voucher will undermine medicare's ability to live up to the responsibility that we have to care for one another, to provide that same dignity to seniors as they and their families prepare to say goodbye for the last time. that is why i couldn't agree with dr. thor or miss davis
7:30 pm
more, and i share their concerns about what congressman price has in mind, despite the repeated pledges from president trump to the contrary for the future of medicare. and my concerns about congressman price don't stop with his desire to end medicare because those desires also extend to end medicaid as we know it as well. his desire to end medicaid are really a two-front war. the first is to repeal the highly successful expansion of medicaid provided for under the affordable care act, which has extended life-saving coverage to nearly 200,000 new jerseyans, many of whom are covered for the first time. nationwide, the affordable care act's medicaid expansion is one of the most successful aspects of health reform. currently, 32 states and the district of columbia have taken advantage of medicaid expansion, making coverage available to
7:31 pm
11 million people. because they recognize the value in providing people with coverage with access to preventative care with the disability to manage chronic conditions, all of which lead to a healthier, more productive population. the second is to eviscerate funding for medicaid by taking away the current funding structure and replacing it with a block grant or some other form of arbitrary underfunding that they mask as allowing for -- quote -- state flexibility. we've seen this picture before. take away an obligation, an entitlement, move it to a block grant, underfunded and ultimate ly slay, slay that opportunity for people to have a guarantee. mr. president, we all know what is really meant when congressman price says state flexibility. he means the flexibility to slash enrollment and deny people access and coverage. he means forcing states to choose between cutting payments to doctors for treating low-income medicaid patients or
7:32 pm
cutting other vital state services like education and infrastructure. he means unraveling medicaid benefits so that for those few still able to enroll, they won't have the coverage for most of the health issues they need treated. it means simply putting his radical ideological opposition to the federal government being involved in health care ahead of the lives of millions of men, women, children, seniors and the disabled across the nation. that is truly remarkable for a man who took the oath to -- quote -- first do no harm. as with his views on medicaid -- medicare, his desire to end medicaid expansion has caused a lot of people from new jersey to write me with their concerns. i would ask congressman price and other like-minded republicans to carefully consider the stress and devastateing -- potentially devastateing impact these policies have on real people.
7:33 pm
real pike like jolie bernett from new jersey who wrote me to say she was finally able to gain access to health coverage thanks to medicaid expansion. she wrote without this care and my medicaid coverage, she wrote, i would have died because i would have had no access to doctors or medications. and jill stasium from jersey city who wrote in saying that thanks to medicaid, i have been receiving top quality health care for the first time in my life. i asked my colleagues how the mantra of state flexibility, which is just another way of ensuring funding for medicaid is slashed and access to life-saving life-enhancing treatment is denied is going to impact miss bonet and miss stasium. i asked how they can justify taking away their coverage, coverage that has provided for the first time in their lives not only the peace of mind of having health insurance but also
7:34 pm
the first time that they have had regular access to the doctors and medication necessary to live. how do you justify that? you can't do it on the basis of state flexibility, and surely not on the basis of a six-year long political vendetta against the affordable care act, yet somehow with this nominee and with this congress, there is something we are all going to have to justify, to every single one of our constituents. mr. president, unfortunately, the list of destructive policies supported by tom price doesn't end with his desires to end medicare as we know it and to dismantle medicaid. it is also -- and this is not surprising, given the republican agenda for the last seven years, repeal the affordable care act, throw millions of americans off their health insurance, return us to the dark ages where insurance companies have free rein to deny coverage for preexisting conditions, cancel
7:35 pm
coverage after a devastating diagnosis, limit what benefits are covered and discriminate against women. that's what the marketplace was before the affordable care act. now, this is not new. republicans have been trying to repeal health care reform since and deny millions of americans health care coverage since before the law was even passed. it's sadly become dogma for republicans, dogma to repeal obamacare, which they voted to do 60-some odd times. but now, after seven long years, the chickens have come home to roost. they now have the ability to live up to their dream of repealing the law but are starting to realize what the implications are, starting to realize that real people with real life situations, with life and death situations that hult from republicans putting partisan ideology ahead of the
7:36 pm
well-being of their constituents, starting to realize that on the ground implications of the affordable care act mean real people receiving real treatment for real health conditions. one of these people is david conapaki from south river, new jersey. david is a diabetic who, thanks to the affordable care act, no longer has to choose between paying for college and paying for the medication he needs. as david put it so succinctly, the affordable care act is literally the difference between life and death for so many. the same holds true for mrs. laurie wilson from morristown, new jersey. her son, like david, has diabetes and has since -- and has had diabetes since birth, and she writes her son -- quote -- is just one citizen among millions whose life literally depends on access to care, which
7:37 pm
under the price republican plan, that access is denied. i mentioned that repealing the affordable care act means reinstating the ability of an insurance company to deny coverage for preexisting conditions. as diabetics, these folks would find it nearly impossible, certainly financially impossible to find coverage that allow them to get their medication and see their physicians, and that's what's truly shocking about congressman price. despite knowing full well that the ban on preexisting conditions is one of the most widely supported and critically important aspects of the affordable care act, is that he considers it to be a -- quote -- terrible idea. so, mr. president, let me say that again. tom price's views on health care are so radical that he thinks insuring people with preexisting health conditions like diabetes from birth are guaranteed access to coverage is a terrible idea.
7:38 pm
it's an extremely callous way to put ideology above people's lives. let me close on this. i have spoken about the many reasons i am opposed to congressman price's nomination to run the department of health and human services, including his long-held opposition to medicare. but above all else, one of the reasons that i am opposing congressman price is because of his seeming lack of fidelity to the one thing that runs at the heart of health care and at the heart of the health and human services department, which is science. for years, congressman price has been a member of a group called the association of american physicians and surgeons. this is a group of doctors who pushed dangerous conspiracy theories and widely debunked claims that have serious implications for the public health. the prime example of this is their assertion, despite all
7:39 pm
evidence to the contrary that vaccines are unsafe and that they cause autism. nothing could be further from the truth. in fact, just this week, i received a letter signed by 350 organizations, including several from new jersey and several representing the autism community restating the fact that -- quote -- vaccines are the safest and most cost-effective ways of preventing disease, disability and death. but unfortunately because of widespread misinformation, the united states -- quote -- still witnesses outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, including the biggest outbreak of whooping cough since 1955 and the fact that we have upwards of 50,000 deaths a year from complications from vaccine-preventable influenza. while tom price personally and as a physician might understand these basic facts, what worries
7:40 pm
me the most is the president of the united states does not. posting on twitter for years that vaccines are dangerous and appointing antivaccine conspiracy theorists to critical posts in the white house and possibly to key positions in the department of health and human services. and when i asked congressman price directly about his fidelity to science and willingness to stand up to the president about adhering to science as the guiding principle of the department of health and human services, his answers were far less than satisfactory. he left me with the impression that he is unwilling to either counter the president when he touts untrue claims about health care and ensure that personnel within h.h.s. are stewards of sound science and not ideology. for the department that oversees the center for disease control, which is the global beacon of
7:41 pm
light on health care that must be focused on science, that's just simply unacceptable. mr. president, i rise today to give my voice in opposition to congressman price as the next secretary of health and human services, and i rise to be the voice of dr. thor, of cara davis, of joe libonet, of dave canaki and lori wilson and the over 6,000 new jerseyans who have called and e-mailed in opposition to tom price's nomination, and i will do that when it comes time for a vote. with that, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington.
7:42 pm
ms. cantwell: mr. president, i come to the floor this evening to continue my remarks from earlier today in opposition to the nomination of congressman price to be secretary of health and human services, and to continue talking about the medicaid program and my colleague from new jersey was talking about the affordability of health care in general and some of the critique about where we're going with health care in the future. that's really what i think this next few years here in the united states senate is going to be about, the future of health care. unfortunately, i think the nominee before us is more about the past of health care, focusing on issues of fee-for-service instead of focusing on the kinds of outcome and patient-centric health care that we need. and earlier today, i was talking about the innovation that's happening in medicaid through the affordable care act and specifically what's happening in both midwestern states, east
7:43 pm
coast states, southern states, western states, how not just the expansion of medicaid is giving more people access to health care but how innovative programs that are reaching that population are allowing people to instead of going into nursing home care and costing states more and having more expense, to basically have community-based care and home-based care, that it's going to help us keep costs down and give patients what they want, the ability to stay at home and have care. and i also talked about how on top of the medicaid expansion, we put a program like the basic health plan that drove down the cost of premiums for people in that program. so not only through states have we expanded health insurance for their citizens and the uninsured rate has dropped. i mentioned in our state of washington, it dropped to just 6%. these delivery system reforms are also driving a better way for us to improve the medicaid program. now, i want to contrast that to
7:44 pm
the position of this administration and to congressman price because it's a very different view. as i said, a very, i think, backwards-looking view about what we need to improve our health care system, and i want to make sure that our colleagues on both sides of the aisle understand this. now, my biggest concern is that the current administration and members of that administration are talking about what they want to do with medicaid. i know that speaker ryan has said that he would like to block grant medicaid and basically back to the states. now, this might sound like some great idea until you realize that right now medicaid resources -- first of all, it's a voluntary program for states to participate in. the money goes back to the states based on the need. it's not block granted. i talked earlier today about the fact that when you block grant it and cap it at a certain level, you're just asking people
7:45 pm
to do with less, so instead of addressing their needs or improving the system like i mentioned on rebalancing to community-based care versus nursing home care or making it more affordable like in the basic plan, all you're doing is capping it and continuing giving an amount of money that doesn't meet the needs of individual citizens. so i did not like that speaker ryan seems to be on this parade ever saying, let's block grant medicaid, and the reason we came to this is because may dear colleague from vermont came to the senate floor one night and showed a tweet from, i think it was actually then-candidate trump, but it might have been president trump, that said, no, no, no, i'm not touching medicare or social security or medicaid, and my colleague from vermont wanted to know whether the president was going to stick to that promise. and what's happened since then is we have seen that there has been a promise, so to speak, on
7:46 pm
some of these programs but not on others. and so i know that the vice president, vice president pence, said that he and donald trump will give states new freedom and flexibility through block-granting medicaid. so they are for this idea of block-granting medicaid. in fact, white house counselor kellyanne conway said, that's right. blockgrant medicaid to the states. and i think the white house chief of staff reince priebus said something similar on tv. so much of the other side of the aisle is saying, you're going to get to keep your health care, no one is going to lose it. i guarantee you, if you block-grant medicaid, which is the premise that mr. price has been rallying on -- not just once but many times -- i guarantee you that it's not going to work out for many
7:47 pm
washingtonians in my state, and it's certainly not going to work out for many people all across this country. mr. price wrote a bill that actually would repeal the medicaid expansion and basically repeal the medicaid expansion on all of the affordable care act. so i know to some people, as i said, that might sound like, oh, you're going to give states flexibility. but right now that dollar goes up and down based on need. when medicaid is block-granted, you're going to give states a set amount of money and, as i said, that set amount of money may not keep pace. through medicaid waivers authorized by congress, such as the centers for medicaid and medicare, states can work with the federal government to deliver flexibility, and i just mentioned two programs that are already in the affordable care act. earlier today i mentioned all of the states that were using it and the shift in dollars that
7:48 pm
were being saved by keeping people out of nursing home care and putting them in community-based services. so a huge win. and a number of states have pursued what some people would call as these medicaid waivers that are you understand a section -- that are under a section called 1115. it is not necessary for people to know the number, but basically those innovations are allowing states to improve the delivery and in the state of washington that is that we're delivering better care, better outcomes at lower cost. that should be our target, not taking a hatchet to medicaid and chopping it and saying, we're only going to give you less and less money. we know that our health care delivery system is going to be challenged in the future, and we know that what mr. price has said that his medicaid budget would cost one-third over ten years. that is a huge cost to the medicaid program. so what would it mean? it would mean millions of
7:49 pm
americans would lose their health insurance because states won't have the investment to cover them. uncompensated care would skyrocket. and that would really hurt the safety net that hospitals try to provide. because people don't go without health care just because medicaid doesn't cover them. they show up in the emergency rooms, they get uncompensated care, it's more expensive, or that he ignore -- or they ignore their health care needs until they can absolutely afford t and we're seeing this across america even now. we have had physicians tell us stories of people who are just waiting until they can afford the coverage. so that is why it's so important to get afford coverage like the affordable care act has been aiive to provide and to get programs like the basic health care plan that allows to you buy in hulk, like a cosco model. a lot of cheaper product because they buy in bulk, it drives down the price.
7:50 pm
the consumer wins, the provider wins because they know they'll get big purchases. that provides the flexibility. i mentioned how new york has 600,000 people on the basic health plan and i stead of paying a yearly of $600 and 1,750, they were saving $1 or more on this their annual insurance premiums. why? because the state was able to offer up a bunds of new york -- a bundle of new york residents and drive down the costs. that's the kind of flexibility we need in the health care system. we don't need to just say we're going to cut one-third over a ten-year period of time. what we want to do is make sure we have the flexibility. what would that do? congressman pries bucket would cut $1 trillion in straights over ten years. leaving states with a hole in their budget that i know if you're like our state who is
7:51 pm
challenged with other issues, they would not be able to cover these costs. the notion that block-granting and repealing the medicaid expansion is the way forward is absolutely not what the people of washington state think and i'm here to represent the viewpoint that innovations in the affordable care act are working, and we shouldn't just simply block-granting and cut medicaid. so instead of improving the delivery system of health care and instead of expanding coverage and giving peace of mind, here is what some of the experts who studied medicaid are saying about capping medicaid through the block-granting or repeal of the medicaid expansion. the national council on disability says that block grants -- quote -- "older americans and people with disabilities would be at special risk. states would face strong financial pressure to reduce services to low-income seniors
7:52 pm
and people with disabilities, if the federal medicaid fondles funds were capped." and the center on budget priorities said "to compensate for the federal medicaid funding cuts a block grant would institute, states would either have to contribute more of their own funding as far more likely use greater flexibility the block grant would make them make draconian cuts to eligibility, benefits, and provider payments." so you can see, mr. president, that people understand that block-granting medicaid is nothing more than a war on medicaid, nothing more than a war on medicaid. and that is why i cannot support mr. price's nomination. we gave him chances in the hearing to talk about why this kind of approach is not acceptable and why the programsing within the affordable care act -- and why
7:53 pm
the programs within the affordable care act that are driving down cost, giving people access, making improvements, working all across the united states in various parts of our nation are actually the right way to improve the delivery system, but we couldn't get commitments out of that. i'd also like to say the commonwealth fund says "the federal contribution under a block grant program would remain the same or grow only according to present formula, no matter how large the population needs become or how much a state actually must spend on health care for medicaid recipients." so if my colleagues are being honest with themselves or if they actually understand this, they should be very afraid of the notion that mr. price is putting forward and wanting to block-grant medicaid. i think some of them do. it is why the governor of nevada, governor brian sandoval,
7:54 pm
or michigan governor rick snyder are theare telling congress to p them keep the gains in the affordable care act and do not shift the costs to the states. while shifting cost to the states might be exactly what some people want to do, this is exactly why we need to fight to make sure that the medicaid expansions are there and that we have the right focus moving forward. a delivery system, that is, that works for the patients and improves outcome and it lowers cost, and that's why i mention that two aspects of the affordable care act -- one, in letting the patients buy in bulk just above the medicaid rate. we did the medicaid expansion and then for a working family just above that 200% of the poverty line, they were able to buy in bulk and get the kind of costs down in health care that, as i said, let about 600,000 new
7:55 pm
yorkers understand that incredible price point, make savings, and sign up for health care in record numbers. so that kind of progress being made on medicaid is exactly what we need to keep making. and our colleague steams want to turn back -- and our colleague seems to want to turn back the clock on this plan. so we did not get a single commitment from him on the key to keeping medicaid healthy for more than the 70 million americans that depend on it, and all i can do is go back to his record, his votes, and his comments to understand that his desire to block-grant medicaid will be a war on medicaid. it will not make that population healthier. it certainly won't really control health care costs for the future. and it certainly is the reason i will be voting no on mr. price. mr. president, i yield the floor.
7:56 pm
ms. warren: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to urge my completion to vote against the nomination of tom price to be the secretary of the department of health and human services. you know, the decisions made at h.h.s. touch the lives of every family in america. the secretary who runs this agency makes decisions about everything from the safety of the food we eat to the drugs we take to the health insurance we buy and the quality of the nursing homes that we live in. this is an extremely important job, and we should not hand over the keys to this agency unless we are certain that the person will put the american people first every minute of every day. president trump has nominated congressman tom price to serve in this job.
7:57 pm
unlike many of the president's other nominees who are stunningly inexperienced in areas whether they will be -- where they will be setting policy, congressman price has a lot of experience in health care policy. yes, he has experience, but it is the kind of experience that should horrify you if you care about medicare, if you care about medicaid, or if you care about your own insurance coverage. congressman price's record is perfectly clear. he wants to destroy fundamental protections that millions of americans depend on for their health and economic security. and frankly he isn't very subtle about t he has described the a.c.a. ban on discriminating against individuals with preexisting conditions as -- quote -- "a terrible idea." he has voted ten times to defund planned parenthood, voted ten
7:58 pm
times against a group that provides lifesaving cancer and sexually transmitted screenings to millions of patients a year. he has tried to privatize medicare and raise the ages of eligibility. privatize medicaid, tbhi that. and he has been one of the chief the booster in congress for gutting the medicaid program, which provides health care for millions of kids, for people with disabilities, for families with parents in nursing homes, cut money to keep people in nursing homes. nonpart sang analyses -- nonpart isn't analyses of these plans are not pretty. millions of people in this country, youngs and old, children and grandparents, poor and middle-class workers would be denied access to lifesaving care. congressman price touts his own magic numbers that say different, but make no mistake,
7:59 pm
this is the record of someone who wants to use his position at h.h.s. to advance a radical, reckless agenda that puts right-wing antigovernment ideology ahead of the health and safety of the american people. during his hearing before the help committee, i asked congressman price some really pretty simple questions. i asked him about more than $1 trillion in cuts that he has proposed to medicare and medicaid. i asked him if he would keep or undermine president trump's campaign claim that he would protect these programs. i asked him to guarantee that not one dollar in cuts to medicare would take place on his watch. i asked him to guarantee that not one dollar in cuts for medicaid to help people