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tv   Senators Schatz Booker and Others on Affordable Care Act Replacement  CSPAN  June 20, 2017 1:22am-3:23am EDT

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ask for unanimous consent with calendar number to nothe be it in order that amendment has not been filed that the dust to make available by a public web site for at least 72 hours a lot with the analysis of the cbo of the bill with those cost implications and they're here to take a stand that disaster the medicare patients families those what the struggle with the opioid addiction the rely and planned parenthood does the
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american public who is left in the dark this is not the normal order senate business. because the people will be outraged when is it it the they're not releasing the bell and then they think it is political suicide so they are bypassing the normal process and then you allow the sun to shine every legislative body had out hearings for all of theed
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flaws not just to placate the masses if this is any good or not because they're not even a lot when there's a love to see it the president said so himself with expert testimony the you need time to talk to your home state with those two committees that exist so under normal sicced circumstances there would be a marked up there is no
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committee hearings and without impact of the american people. and then the american people. democ that is the way that democracy itself should work that is the fruit from the poisonous tree because that process that was produced so far so i will highlight those three groups. h those that will pay more for insurance and then they can afford nursing home care for their loved ones after a share a heart attack.
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they can charge more for diabetes or cancer or asthma everybody from a local paulpa -- planned parenthood clinic and it makes 16 of the american economy to impact millions of workers that will be affected by this bill. trumpcare will take away nearly 1 million jobs by the year 2026 were making their harder for them to get health care. the working poor will struggle even more i don't know why we would punish them.
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millions of americans caredth deeply about the poor and the vulnerable becausehbors. they've made news standing up for their neighbors my understanding that aca mandates everybody to have insurance so the health the people offset the sick people. so if we put that in the high-risk insurance poolm. that is the way it has been in the past and will be again. sic so to punish a the sickest people. agr we may not agree on policy but hopefully of the process. will it
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what would it take for the process to be restored and to be considered in the way it ought to be considered? and with the affordable care act and with the ofri restoring united states senate itself. for and we need the senators to say i will not go for anything there that has the bin day public hearing that has been jammed down the american approach and how will impact my state's hospitals and for the three republicans to say whatever order this is the only way
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the bill is not a total disaster a yield the floor.. >> mr. president i am grateful for the recognition my and for my colleague from hawaii or from across the country coming to the floor tonight this will be a long evening because there are a lot of folks were frustrated it isn't just frustration about the actual bill itself but a lot of it is building p. because of the broken this of the process. man has been conducted behind closed doors on both sides of the aisle and with
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the regular order. and to bring about a better process and to create the opportunity to reflect on the american health care act that the debate would happen and would come about that the american public would see go through the debate this very constitutionalou convention of this country so those records of deliberations that is right
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there in the open. a that is so secretive so people working in secret on the bill they will force through congress with no markups or debate or public accountability so there will be a lot of voice is too late i came from a children's hospital this afternoon those that suffered car accidents how we're relying on medicaidhat's a that is one of the most terrifying scenes that the
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bill the president even called me and. so i understand the substance of the bill that has many people afraid when you look at the health version it values are common ideals with hundreds of thousands of dollars to the wealthy to the degree we have not seen in our lifetime that violates those values in the objective way the to criticize the process.23 mil
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we go the details of that bill 23 million americans by a hundred billion dollarsne-six won six of our economy into crisis that is fundamentally at odds and especially with this body in the senate i had so many people come to me say this is the greatest deliberative body on the planet earth which would slow things down as the ancestors would call thispp body to read history this grappling with issues but the senate is meant to be a
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place of consideration and of debate and discussion that is really interesting and if we should our merchant ships that is the record the issues of "war and peace" i hope they bring about substantive indeliberate in debates the i elder statesman poseidonsost that is the most difficultde decisions they make if you look at the history of the body wicket that debate and
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if to arm those merchant ships the second longest consecutive session in history is health care or more specifically in 2010 about the affordable care act and in fact, here we are with that process of no hearings or markups or committee sessions in the shadow of debates that is as contrast that speaks volumes and that anyone standing back would agree and concur with our country is about we
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literally founded this nation because of life liberty in the pursuit of happiness. and what more fundamental aspect is a critical constituent part of how we preserve life but what isis the state of our health care? and for this great deliberative body to do that without so much as the plot is with the brilliant mind on both sides of the ideal woman negative of the ideal with different philosophies what with public discussion and debate that is what a democracy is and founded upon not back rooms this by
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the reflex of best of what they are to fundamentally affect life in pushing it to the floor. it has been said before but i remind you affordable care act as a lengthy process and your record breaking consecutive days. the senate health committee had 14 bipartisan round tables and 30 hearings, 25 partisan walk-throughs considering 300 amendments. affordable care act accepted over 160 amendments republican amendments to shape the bill.
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the finance committee held 70 ground tables 13 member h meetings dirty meetings and negotiations with the seven day marked up that is our history. in the end it went through a lengthy process with policy experts and market experts and medical professionals insurers and hospitals and families who all came to the senate to put forward their input and ideas it was not a republican or democratic bill. america was invited to the table with hours and hours that records show if a
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reflected their ideas or not they had their say that is what is beautiful about this democracy. it is the dignity and the voice in the opinions that are brought into the process i was mayor of newark during the time the process was going on. people in my community were riveted into those issues that would affect their life was pulling on here and the united states senate the number one reason for being grossi in my state was people declaring bankruptcy because of their health caret bills. that is not happening now with those levels. r they were carrying and representatives of my community i saw how the process shaped the bill and
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republican ideas shaped the bill how advocates and doctors in nonprofits and aarp and others let their voices be heard said dignity was respected. >> mr. president will my colleague field?. >> i fully yield to is the majority leader. >> this weekend i was doing town halls in lake county that counties on the map would be described as solidly red the people borer turning now with one huge invitee which is the health care bill that might bemi
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considered next week with no consideration in committee or amendments no opportunity for experts were for the citizens of america so to veterans came up to me and said does d.c. understand the despair and anxiety over the health care plan? but then i was visiting a nursing home with two different individuals that noticed everyone with long-term care was there and they said if we lose medicaid we're out on the street i can walk, that is a problem yes it is for those
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of long-term care and that is why at this moment i am asking for the normal process for any bill to get pharao democratic consideration and that means committee hearings and experts testifying and input from citizens.consent that's why i ask unanimous consent no motion to proceed to calendar number 120 the american health care act me in order until it has beenng the subject of executive session meetings during which amendments they have the opportunity to be presented and considered in the american people have a chance to me you weighed in.
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>>. >> mr. president when i was home this weekend i constantly had people coming up to me asking about the secret republican health care bill and what is a net? how does it affect their families? to use donald trumps were day are afraid that would be mean and make it impossible for insurersco to deny coverage for pre-existing coverage because that would be meanut and. and cut medicaid coverage for grandma and grandpa that would be mean. com so the question that kept coming to new be all weekend
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was is the secret build really meant to cut all of the funding for the disabled or the sick and elderly to give tax breaks to the wealthy? and also they said they did not want to be fooled because they're freer it is trumpcare really is not a health care just like trumpet university was not an institution for the we're demanding the republicans show us the of bill so the american people can see the bill and understand what is a net because the consequences is so dramatic so i ask unanimous consent calendar 120 h.r. 1628 the
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american health care act be referred and report the bill with changes to increase health insurance costs or reduce coverage or make health care less affordable with those of pre-existing conditions and reduced tax liabilities for corporations and individuals over $1 million. i ask unanimous consent the motion we put in order. >> no objection in. >> i am just recognizing where most senior senator is here from delaware a right to suspend the opportunity for the senior senator to have a few words.
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>> thinks for yielding. i take a train back and forth time to time to our home state thank you for letting me have a few minutes just to say this. i was here in 2001 but two days after was elected town daschle was the democratic leader and they said ifo understand it on the to pick my committee's selection he said give me your letter today. i am not sure how they work on the republican side but i said my first three choices is the finance committee and
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the third is the finance committee he said he wantedbo the finance committee have to get in line. i did and it took me 80 years and it was a great committee in the interim with government affairs and homeland security and others. committ but eventually i got on to finance in 2009 and the hope was the new leaders would do something the president since truman wanted to do which was provide healthth care.
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so first lady hillary clinton and to come up with the alternative with the republican think tank at that had five components and co-sponsored by hatch and then when mitt romney was running for president andrge pur then the exchange of the of marketplace with better
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health care coverage that 93 legislation those whose incomes were low they could not qualify for the sliding scale tax credits to have the individual mandate and to get coverage that they would just not sign up in those exchanges and to make money doing that.ide cove
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and then to provide coverage to your people.s. they cannot deny coverage. them and those are pretty good ideas.e and that is what they called romney cared massachusetts.d by because bin to be associated and then to be scaled the. being
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and then at least getfu something from my many. but then he ran for president and then to provide health care coverage and then they spent time with the show book like perot then will fly'' was offered 1993 and that's with their relative success in massachusetts. >> we had hearings and round tables and discussions to
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talk about if this made sense or not with three democrats and republicans to find out those reasonable compromises in with the finance committee those that were adopted by democrats and republicans alike. but there were 300 it amendments made in over 165 adopted so long story short i it became what i know they wanted to be involved that would maya recollection a there was a lot of
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involvement of poolsides for :but never that the i debate would end but it finally did by a close margin but i bring this up that was my first year of the finance committee. i loved it. i was with the number of others in reaction the legislative. it was fun and challengingt trying to build consensus. i wish to do that again i know the affordable care act is not perfect but the ideato be preserving what needs to be b preserved for fixed and as smart as our republican friends are and as smart as we like to think we are in this case we would be a lot better off i know our leader
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senator schumer would like to meet later this week to just talking over john kennedy used to say we should not be afraid to negotiate a is a great quotation about being afraid you should never be afraid to negotiate. give thanks to the senator from new jersey to yield back this time i was in africa and a couple of years ago either do great african proverb that says u.s. avast
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golan if you want to go far go together and we need to go together i yield back. >> mr. president you talked about tanzanian the remains be of good breeding have often heard you probably heard that when they normally say please to meet s you. h that is part of our concern here in to be impacted and if we see them it is not inic
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their best interests so we know all senators to restructure the nation's entire health care system so what they can spend on prescription drugs and the rest we'll understand it makes up 1/6 of the economy.enth that affects the parents and grandparents and children struggling with asthma or battling cancer.l. those of secretary of health and human services the american people that we all represent certainly have not seen the bill. but the american people deserve better it was written on partisan lines to
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bring the american people on board this bill is written and rushed to the senate with a cost in the details of this proposal in the american people deserve better.e i remember when the colleagues said it was being rammed down in the middle of the night that went through 106 public hearings incorporating those republican amendments that whole process took an entire year but this health care plan involves of hearing and no transparency and all as united states senators river set your to represent the american people. represent the american people. we answer to the american
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people. so why are my colleaguese? trying to put one over on the american people? all across california they see what is happening in thisul wonderful it would be out in the open the american people deserve greater transparency even though those office tried to conceal the details of the plan we know he enough it is nothing short of a disaster because we have been told it is 80 percent the same that was passed by the house that even the president who hails the passage it means 23 million americans with
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those californians are put a risk of losing coverage we know that raises cost for middle-class families and seniors the average monthly premium cost goes up so the note it puts americans of pre-existing conditions times with the open your a treatment without coverage so we know that would cut $8,304,000,000,000 fromor medicaid that means less money for families -- bless you. that is another reason. [laughter]
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to be in place to fix whatbr is wrong and not repeal that all together for gore recently revisited a remarkable treatment clinic and was angeles. . . a transcription. then -- a prescription.
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then she would realize she couldn't afford to pay for the insurance beyond that and she said it's, quote, the worst feeling in the world to have to tell your doctor, who is trying to make you well, that you cannot afford the treatment prescribed. tanya told me, quote, before the affordable care act, living without health coverage was a nightmare in this country. but she went on to say that has all changed, and thanks to the a.c.a., i can now see a doctor when i need to, monitor my condition, and stay healthy so i can keep working and contribute to our nation's economy. if my colleagues in congress -- and she referred to them, if the republicans in congress repeal the law, i don' i don't know whi will do. so i ask, how does the republican health care plan help tanya? another woman, christa, told me, quote, i am married with four children, none of whom -- and
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one of whom is a 10-year-old type 1 diabetic. he requires daily active insulin management to stay alive, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. she went on to say, health care is not optional for us. even with health insurance, diabetes management is the type of thing that can bankrupt you. without health insurance, i can't imagine what i would do. she went on to say, the a.c.a. is a huge relief for my family. so i ask, how does this bill help christa and her family? then there's rhett in march are incounty. more than seven years ago, he was diagnosed with leukemia. he is nine years old. he says, cancer cells are the bad guys. this is what he wrote me. for three and a half years i took chemo to get the bad guys
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out. i had more than 1,000 doses of chemotherapy. my parents had to tell my sister that i might die of cancer. and then he went on to write, thanks to my doctors and nurses, my family and friends, my church and my community and the affordable care act, now i'm -- and then he writes -- gone with the cancer. i have a preexisting condition. thanks to the affordable care act, my parents don't have to worry about losing coverage. a 9-year-old rhett is showing us the way. but how does this bill help rhet (now, i don't know the party affiliation of any of these folks. i don't know if they're democrats or republicans or independents, i don't know if they're members of the green party. aim note asking them -- i'm not
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asking them those questions. i'm asking them, how are you doing? what's helping you? what do you need? and how will this impact you? and i know that i'm just one of two senators that they have, and when it comes to their sneads and their -- to their needs and their need to be represented in the united states congress and their need to be heard and their need to be seen, party f. fillation -- party affiliation should not matter. what should matter are the needs of the american people. and regardless that of who they vote for in a partisan election, i am certain of this: this health care plan that is being proposed by my colleagues from across the aisle will not solve their problems. and it will only create, in fact, more problems and potentially devastate people's lives. so to my colleagues, i say: this shouldn't be a matter of
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supporting this bill automatically if you're a republican or objecting just because you're a democrat. this is about what's right and what's wrong. if you know this bill is bad, stand up and stop it; speak that truth. now is not the time to keep quiet and hope nobody notices. forget the politics. forget partisan pressure and talk radio and primary ads. instead, just listen to the voices of the american people. not just in california but in nevada, in arizona, in ohio, in alaska, in maine, in pennsylvania, in a west virgin virginia. because they have made themselves overwhelmingly clear. only 20% of americans support
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this bill. a majority opposes it in every state in this country. it is the least popular piece of legislation in modern history. i'm asking you to think about the american people. i'm asking to you think about tanya, think about christa, think about rhett living wither leukemia since he was just two and a half years old, undergoing infusions every night with such incredible bravery. let the determination of americans like rhett bring us together, a 9-year-old boy who tells us in his words, don't repeal the affordable care act; improve it." because we all agree, the a.c.a. can be improved. it must be improved. it isn't perfect. and i am ready to work with
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anyone who really wants to make it better. instead of playing politics, instead of playing politics with public health and people's lives, we can actually work together to strengthen our health care system. in fact, i'm proud to have recently cosponsored a bill with senator dianne feinstein and a number of my democratic colleagues. our bill would make it safer and easier for middle-class americans to buy insurance if they currently don't qualify for any help paying their premiums. these are the kind of solutions democrats can get behind. these are the kinds of solutions that would help and not hurt the people we represent. we took an oath to represent all the people, so i am asking every member of this chamber to think long and hard about the consequences of this bill.
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think about the responsibility we've been entrusted with. we owe it to the american people to tell the truth, not to hide it. we owe it to the american people to solve real problems, not to manufacture new ones. we owe it to the american people to do the job we were sent here to do. i urge my colleagues, vote down this bill and stand up for the people we represent and serve. i yield back. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nevada. ms. cortez masto: thank you, mr. president. i rise to speak out on the
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legislation that republicans are trying to jam through the senate without any public view or consideration. this is an insult to the american people. it is a shameful abdication of the role as a u.s. senator to represent the concerns and priorities of the people of a state and country. we were elected to be a voice for the people of our individual states, and what aim hearing is -- and what i'm hearing loud and clear from my state, keep the affordable care act, do not repeal it. keep it and work together to improve it. like my colleagues, mr. president, i would like to share the story of one of the many nevadans who have contacted me to share their story about the a.c.a. and why they so desperately want to avoid its repeal. jessica and her husband own a brewery in reno, nevada. i was lucky enough to get and speak with her in person when i was home last month touring the
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community health alliance center. after meeting with her, i had the opportunity to sit and talk with so many incredible people -- doctors, nurses, people who care about the very faces of women, men, and children we are talking about tonight. but this is jessica's letter to me, and this is what i'd like to share with you, what she wrote to me. "dear senator cortez-mass stow: i am a resident of nevada. a small business owner and a mother. i am writing to express my views about the affordable care act. the affordable care act has had a tremendously positive effect on my life, and i would like to share my story with you. the affordable care act saved my small business. when the patient protection and affordable care act was signed into law in 2010 and when it was upheld by the supreme court in
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2012, my husband and i were in the planning stages of our small business. at the time, my family was provided health insurance through my corporate job. knowing the a.c.a. would take effect gave me the peace of mind to leave my job and become a full-time small business owner. today our business, under the rose brewing company, is celebrating our fourth year in existence, and we are in the beginning stages of a large expansion, which will create many new jobs in reno. this business would not have survived without my full-time dedication, and i would not have been able to leave my corporate job without the ability to procure affordable health care for my family. the affordable care act allowed me to start my family in a healthy way. as my husband and i prepared to sign up for our first year of health care with the a.c.a., we
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found out that i was pregnant. prior to the a.c.a., health insurance -- health insurers were allowed to consider pregnancy a preexisting condition. instead of being denied coverage or charged higher premiums, i was able to receive appropriate and affordable care during my pregnancy through the a.c.a. the affordable care act saved my life and my life because 30 weeks into my pregnancy, at a regular checkup, with our midwife, my husband and i were advised to see a doctor. since i didn't look sick or feel sick, we hesitated, but our midwife was positive it would be for the best. our insurance through the a.c.a. allowed us to see the recommended ob-gyn. halfway through our appointment, my doctor became very concerned and rushed me into the hospital. my son was born by emergency c-section a few hours later.
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several doctors agreed that near the the baby nor myself would have survived a further 24 hours of pregnancy. having health insurance through the a.c.a. allowed my husband and i to seek treatment and care without having to worry about the affordability of following doctors' orders. this is the first time i could say that the a.c.a. saved my life and the life of my beautiful baby boy. the affordable care act saved my baby's health -- it saved my baby's health and provided us with health insurance. my son was born nine weeks early and was admitted into the nicu. he stayed in nicu for 32 days and was under constant doctor care. by the time he left the hospital, we had incurred well over $1 million in total costs. the a.c.a. allowed him to start his life without a cap on his total lifetime health care coverage. prior to the a.c.a., many nicu
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babies reached their lifetime limits before even feeling the sun shine on their faces. i'm eternally grateful for this provision of the a.c.a. one week after bringing our beautiful little baby home from the hospital, i find myself in need of emergency care for a second time. i suffered a postpartum stroke. i was taken to the emergency room and admitted to the hospital for the second time in two months. again, the a.c.a. allowed me to seek treatment and care without worrying about coverage. the affordable care act will save my son's health care. my son now has a medical issue with his growth. should the a.c.a. be repealed, amended or replaced with something less inclusive, this issue will be considered a preexisting condition. the thought of my 18-month-old son being denied coverage or potentially not being able to
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afford the health care offered to him makes me sick to my stomach. why would our lawmakers vote to take this away from him? i implore you to consider the great lengths the affordable care act has gone to not only improve and save lives in my family, but families across the great state of nevada. i further implore you to consider the children currently could have had and benefiting from the a.c.a. as you contemplate your vote on this significant matter. i strongly urge you to defend this crucial legislation. too many of your nevadan constituents rely on this lifesaving, health-saving and financial-saving legislation. thank you for reading my story and considering my views. i am happy to speak directly with you. sincerely, jessica and her family. mr. president, i know jessica's story is one of thousands. i hope my colleagues across the aisle think of jessie and her family and the millions of
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americans like her who have so much at stake while continuing to secretly rewrite our country's health care laws. thank you, thank you, mr. presir listening, and i yield the floor. ms. stabenow: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: thank you, mr. president. first, i want to thank the senator from nevada. we are, first of all, so pleased that she is here and her voice is so strong for the citizens of nevada, and appreciate very much her comments this evening. mr. president, i'm rising this evening to talk about an issue that affects every single person, every single family in michigan and all across the nation, and that's health care. and i feel very confident that i can say that each one of the 48 members of the democratic caucus, each and every one of us would love to be on this floor working with republican
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colleagues across the aisle to lower the cost of prescription drugs, to lower the out-of-pocket costs of health care, to create more competition, more insurance choices for people in the insurance pools that are there, to basically fix the problems. but we're here, and i'm proud to be with colleagues tonight, because we are not willing to support anything that unravels the health care system, raises costs, and takes away health care for people, that on top of that gives a tax cut to the wealth yet americans, insurance executives, pharmaceutical companies with the dollars that are cut. so here we are. the house has passed a bill that in fact raises costs, takes away health care, gives the tax cut i talked about. now the republicans have a
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health care bill, but they won't let us see it. i'm the ranking democrat on the house subcommittee of the finance committee. you would think that someone would have reached out to have conversations with me. about -- and the members of our subcommittee and the members of our whole committee. but that has not happened. so they're letting the trump administration see it. but not the american public. they're letting k street lobbyists see it. in fact, that's probably where i'll get a copy first, is through lobbyists. but not the american public who will lose their health care and pay more. if you have cancer and you're not going to be able to get coverage, if you're going to potentially be dropped or now a preciftion -- preexisting condition or get a cap put on for the number of cancer treatments that you can receive, i believe you have a
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right to receive this bill. if you have epilepsy and will lose your insurance, you have a right to see this bill. if you're a woman who will be charged more for insurance and be considered to have a preexisting condition just because you are a woman, you have a right to see this bill. and if you're a senior whose rates are going to go skyrocketing upwards, you have a right to see this bill. but the sad fact is republicans don't think the american people have a right to know or to see this bill, or to review it, or to comment on it, to have a chance to give their opinion on it. the difference in process couldn't be more clear between the way the affordable care act was originally worked on for about 18 months and then passed, and what's happening right now.
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in 2009, republicans called for a fair, collaborative and deliberative legislative process. and i agree. in fact, we all agreed. from 2009 to 2010, the senate finance committee held more than 53 hearings on health reform. hearings, open committee meetings, work sessions. as a new member of finance at that time, i was involved in every single one of those, hours and hours and hours of listening, deliberating, people sharing their opinions, debating. counting the health committee deliberations, there are 100 hearings and committee meetings before the bill was finalized and debated to be reported out of committee. 100. the republicans had had no
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hearings -- zero hearings -- no public meetings; zero public meetings. during the finance committee markup, when we were working through and voting up the bill, we considered 135 amendments often late into the night. the final senate bill included 147 republican amendments. until the end, we were trying to do everything we could to get bipartisan support when it was clear that politically there was not a desire. even with 147 republican amendments in the bill to have a bipartisan health care bill. but republicans won't even allow us to see the bill, let alone amend it. now, our position is very clear. if there is no hearing, there is no vote.
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you need to show us the bill. but there's, i think, a really good reason that they won't show us the bill. they won't let us see it because it's a disaster for the american people. it's a disaster for people in michigan that i represent, from the house bill, we know that 14 million fewer people will be insured after the first year. 23 million fewer people will be insured after ten years. now this may change somewhat back and forth. we have no idea. but we know the general framework that the senate is working in is the same general framework as the house. we know that in 2026, according to the budget office, 51 million people -- 51 million people -- under the age of 65 will be uninsured.
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no insurance. we're told that premiums would go up 20% next year and states would be allowed to opt out of key insurance laws that protect consumers. to really understand what that means, that means all of the decisions about your care go back to the insurance companies. not your doctor. you know, laws that protect people with preexisting conditions, gone. rules that prevent women from being charged more, gone. laws that prevent seniors from being charged more, gone. and the way it used to be is if you got sick, the insurance company could decide to drop you. itit-- it was the insurance comy that said how many cancer treatments that you were able to receive or mental health visits, if any, you would receive. and you always paid more than for physical health. the same with addiction.
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this all goes away with what's being talked about here. in other words, costs are going to go up and care is going to go down. and to add insult to injury, all of this is going to go to tax cuts for multimillionaires and billionaires and drug companies and insurance company. while somebody is losing their nursing home care, their cancer treatments, maternity care, children unable to go to the doctor and parents forced to go back to using the emergency room. mr. president, i want to share what these changes would mean for people in michigan. there are so many people i've talked to, so many stories that i've heard. i received a letter from a woman in michigan p named amy who owns a small retail business, has health insurance through her husband's job. small business owner. amy has chronic myeloid
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leukemia. it ising managed with a medication that costs -- it is managed with a medication that costs $20,000 a month. not a year. a month. after her deductible and 10% copay, she said she quickly reaches the maximum out-of-pocket expense on her insurance each year. amy wrote preexisting conditions, maximum out-of-pocket costs, lifetime caps are important to me. without them, i could never afford my health care. without the affordable care act, i could quickly bankrupt my family and still die. please consider my situation when deciding your vote on any changes to health care. i need your help. i want and need to stay alive and raise my children. health reform allows amy to stay on her husband's insurance plan
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and pay for the cancer treatments that are keeping her alive. the republican plan would put people with preexisting conditions like cancer at the mercy, again, of health insurance companies. here's another way the republican plan would hurt michigan families. thanks to the medicaid expansion , 650,000 people are newly covered under what we call healthy michigan, the healthy michigan plan. and the good news is 97% of michigan children can now go to the doctor. they don't have to wait and go to the emergency room. if they have a cold, their mom or dad can take them to a doctor. they can get preventive care rather than waiting until something awful happens and go into the emergency room. and what's the good news for the state of michigan out of that? michigan will end up this year going into next year with $432
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million more in the treasury. taxpayer dollars that aren't going to have to be used on health care. , because the right thing was done, creating a way for children to see a doctor. and what has happened? we have a 50% reduction on folks going into the emergency rule oe emergency room that don't have insurance, and it saves money when you do that. the number of people treated has gone down 50%. the number of people treated without insurance. you know, the great thing about health care to understand is that if we ignore it, it doesn't mean people don't get sick, that they don't get cancer, they don't need to have a nursing home or that their child doesn't get sick. if you just ignore it, the costs go up because people ultimately use the most expensive ways to get treated. if you actually plan it out and do the right thing on the front
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end and people can see a doctor and they can get the checkups and the care that they need and the treatment they need, you actually save money. that's -- that's the example of the state of michigan. but it would end the medicaid expansion. one young man in michigan, only 19 years old. he was living with his mother when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. he didn't have a way to get to his appointments or treatments. thanks to healthy michigan, he was able to get treatment. he is now free from cancer, has a job with benefits, and is engained to be married -- engaged to be married. healthy michigan and the medicaid expansion saved this
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young man's life. the republican plan would end the healthy -- the healthy michigan plan, ripping coverage away from 650,000 people in michigan, including cancer patients. and for what? for what? to pay for tax breaks for drug companies and the ultra wealthy one more time. this means michigan families will be unable to care for their loved ones when they need it most. in january i led a forum on health care prices. and a woman told her story. ann was ttioned -- was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when with we -- when she was 14 years old. medicare and secondary insurance cover most of the costs of her
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medication, which costs an astonishing $75,000 a year. that's nearly her entire household income, including social security benefits. ann had opinion caring for her aging mom when her mom's dimentia worsened and didn't know where she would find the $6,000 a month to pay for nursing home care. fortunately ann's mom qualified for medicaid, which three out of five in michigan are getting nursing home care because of medicaid, including ann's mom. and this nursing home care paid for the final three years of her life. here's ha ann -- what ann said. it was only because of medicaid that she was able to get the help that she needed at the end
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of her life. 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 and all of our savings trying to keep up with their bills. medicaid helped ann care for her mom at the end of her life. this is a good thing. again, the republican plan would cut medicaid by $834 billion. that's the house plan coming over. we don't know how much will be cut here, but we know whatever will be cut will be used for tax breaks for drug companies, insurance c.e.o.'s, millionaires and billionaires. how does that reflect american values? in conclusion, republicans are hiding their bill because they know it is a bad deal for american families. it is a bad deal.
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the president of the united states called it mean. i agree. it is mean, and it's definitely a bad deal for the people i represent in michigan. costs go up, care goes down, and a tax cut for the millionaires and billionaires. we are better than this. our nation is better than that. it's time for republicans to show us the bill so we can work on it together -- together, give us a chance -- give the american people a chance to have input, to say what they think before it's forced on them in a secret process that's rammed through this floor. and it's time to move beyond partisanship to get something done for the american people. again, i know that the 48 democratic senators in this chamber want to work on lowering the costs of prescription drugs and reducing out-of-pocket costs
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and helping small businesses that want to provide coverage for their employees and making the health care system better. let's stop this bad bill and work together on behalf of the american people. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: mr. president, when a pope dies, the cardinals meet in secret to elect the next pope. a white cloud goes up in smoke. when the senate republicans meet together in secret for a health care bill to cover the sick and elderly, that's what goes up in smoke, all of that coverage. the only thing more secret than the republican health care bill is donald trump's tax returns,
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and we might need, ultimately, to have a special counsel to go and find out what's inside of that health care bill because right now the democrats don't know, the american public doesn't know. no one knows what's in that bill. while we may not have details on the republicans' secretive proposal to repeal and replace the affordable care act, we know that they are not completely rewriting the house-passed legislation that eviscerates reduces coverage and all those families caught in opioid crisis. this bill is being done in complete ka lambty and it is -- calamity and it is being done in secret. right now the press is being stifled. the white house didn't even let
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reporters audio tape the press briefing today. last week the senate republicans tried to keep the press from asking questions of senators in the hall. they don't want the press to know about this bill or to cover it. but for families who could need treatment for opioids, the republicans want to take the money from substance-use disorder coverage and care and to use it to offset a $5.5 trillion tax cut for the healthy wealthy and for massive corporations. that would be cruel, it would be immoral, it would be inhumane. like president trump himself, it would be mean. we know the opioid epidemic knows no demographic, it has ruined lives of men and women from lexington, massachusetts to
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lexington, kentucky. it is an equal opportunity destroyer. that's why one of the reasons combating the opioid epidemic has been bipartisan. the comprehensive addiction and recovery act was passed by the president. it passed the senate 92-2. and six months ago the senate passed a 21st century cures act bill 94-5. this bill quickly became law and allocated $1 billion to states to provide much-needed resources to help them address the opioid epidemic on the ground and in their communities. yet today senate republicans are single-handedly looking to betray that progress, erase it from the history books. they are doing so by crafting in
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secret a bill to gut medicaid and repeal the affordable care act and replace it with a shell that hides a tax break for the wealthiest people in our country, people who do not need or deserve a tax break, especially if it's coming from the health care coverage from those people who are sickest, those people who are oldest, those people who are most disabled, those people who are most vulnerable to having an addiction to opioids and need treatment. it would be wrong to take their money for that health care coverage and give it as a tax break to the wealthiest billionaires in america who already have enough money for their health care coverage. that would be a death sentence to the 2.8 million americans with substance use disorders, including 220,000 with an opioid use disorder at risk of losing
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their insurance coverage all together in order to ensure that their family member could get treatment. for those who do manage to get insurance coverage, trumpcare will make it more expensive to get the treatment and the care they need. the congressional budget office explicitly said that out had -- out-of-pocket spending could increase by thousands of dollars per individual in any one given year for a disease as critical as an opioid use disorder, any delay in treatment can be the difference between life and death, not to mention that because trumpcare reduces protections for people with preexisting conditions, even those with insurance may find out that the coverage they have won't work for them when they need it the most. under the republican proposal a
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substance use disorder could be classified as a preexisting condition and therefore you can't get coverage for it. the congressional budget office also said that trumpcare would slash medicaid by $834 billion permanently, decapitating medicaid, decapitating. they say they are moving to a per capita system. another way of saying that if you're an ordinary person is decapitation for medicaid for the families across our country who need it. and if this becomes law, there is no norcan for medicaid. once it is cut by trumpcare, it is dead. those devastating cuts would grind the progress and bring the access to opioid treatment to a screeching halt and kick people
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in treatment to the curb. medicaid spent money for access to care, access to recovery and access to hope for millions of americans. medicaid can cover in-patient detox treatment, access to noloxone. additionally medicaid pays for one-third of the medical -- medicaid assisted treatments in the country -- more than any other payer. in massachusetts medicaid pays for nearly one half of the medicaid assisted treatment. one half of the people who get medicaid assisted treatment for opioids, for addiction will lose their coverage and then the republicans are going to take the money they save and then give it to the wealthiest people in our country who also need the
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same coverage, leaving them with the money needed for those who are the other one half who won't have it. and what happens to those other individuals? it could be a death sentence without treatment. and those of us from states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, hear how it has helped to save lives. there is one story of a mother whose son became addicted to opioids after getting a prescription from a family member. through medicaid he was able to help treat his substance use disorder. his mother dawn said, quote, he has done very well with his recovery, but i fear without insurance coverage that he will not be able to continue his counseling and he may lose everything that he has gained and fall back into the cycle of addiction. his medical insurance is
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literally his lifeline. please don't abandon my son and others like him who need medicaid assistance to continue their fight against addiction. instead of recognizing the importance of medicaid for families like dawn's across the country, republicans are proposing to starve this lifesaving program through trumpcare by cutting more than a quarter of its budget. because that's not enough to fund the massive tax breaks that republicans want for their donor friends, president trump has proposed to cut the program by an additional $600,000, leaving medicaid a shell of its former self. although republicans refer to this as capping the medicaid program, for dawn's son what that really means is they will decapitate his access to medication assisted treatment, decapitate his ability to seek counseling, and decapitate the
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peace of mind dawn receives in knowing her son receiving the help he needs. we also have to consider the affordable care act prevention of public health fund and its role in the opioid epidemic. it is the feder -- federal government's single largest investment in prevention. since 2010, massachusetts has received more than $95 million through the prevention fund. importantly, for massachusetts, nearly $4.5 million has been given to the preventative health services block grant that has helped the state respond to the heroin, prescription drug and fentanyl crisis. eliminating this fund will only hurt our ability to respond to the opioid and other drug epidemics popping up in every one of our communities. we should not be building bridges to recovery with money that is stolen from those programs in order to be spent on a wall that is going to pretend
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to block the drugs from coming in from overseas. we should be building bridges to recovery, not walls to isolation. and instead of more commissions, we need more commitments from the administration and congressional republicans to not undo the progress we have made in preventing and treating substance abuse disorders. it's unfortunate that republicans who have touted our progress on opioid issues aren't standing up to the policies in trumpcare that would negate their hard work. by supporting this, they are betraying the families and communities who have suffered from the relentless grip of substance use disorders. when discussing the opioid crisis, the only thing the g.o.p. stands for right now is gutting overdose prevention. that's the new g.o.p., gutting overdose prevention. while devastating, this isn't
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surprising for those of us who have been watching many congressional republicans salivate over ways to annihilate medicaid for decades. republicans harbor an ancient animosity towards medicaid, raiding the medicaid hoppers achieves two of their goals. first, it kills a lifeline for more than 70 million low-income and working class americans. and second, it provides the g.o.p. a piggy bank to aid their donors and pay for these tax breaks for their friends. in fact, trumpcare alone would provide the wealthiest individuals and national corporations with over $660 billion in tax breaks over ten years. included in this figure is the repeal of the health insurance tax which gives a $145 billion tax break to insurance conglomerations and their c.e.o.'s. millionaires will get a tax break of $50,000 per year, more than three times the income of
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most medicaid beneficiaries, and the top 400 highest income earners would save $7 million in taxes annually. all of this comes at the expense of the 23 million americans who will lose health insurance coverage under trumpcare. don't let the g.o.p. fool you. trumpcare is not about creating health. it's about concentrating wealth in the hands of a small number of americans. it's about making middle class and working americans pay for a tax break for people who need it least. we can do better than that. we owe it to the families of the 33,000 americans who died from an opioid overdose last year. the proposals under consideration with republicans is going to only add to the tally of overdose deaths. we're hearing that senate republicans could create an opioid fund as a paltry attempt to appease those who have called out the cruelties in this bill.
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that extra funding would be crumbs. it would be like trading a full body cast for a band-aid, like trading land for a couple of beasts, like trading land for a tricycle. we will not be fooled. we know it took republicans more than a year to agree to providing the funding for emergency opioid response in the cures bill. one can only imagine how long it will take to get any money the republicans are promoting as a consolation prize out to the communities who need it. we know a vote for trumpcare is a vote to perpetuate overdose deaths. passing this bill will be just aiding and abetting one of public health's most wanted and most notorious serial killers. americans from both political parties are not fooled by president trump's tax cut shell game on the backs of families and communities that have been ravaged by opioids.
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that's why democrats will continue to be a public megaphone and shout from the rooftops that eviscerateing medicaid to give a tax cut to the healthy and wealthy is mean, it is inhumane, it is immoral, and we are not going to stand for it, and the american people are not going to stand for it. the best vote i ever cast in my political career, that's 41 years in congress, was for the affordable care act. the second best vote i will ever cast is to block the repeal of the affordable care act because of the good which it has done for tens of millions of families in our country who otherwise would not have the coverage they need. mr. president, i yield back the balance of my time. mr. sanders: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: let me thank the senator from massachusetts for his very cogent and important
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remarks, and let me just start off by asking the president, asking the leader of the republican party, what are you afraid of? what are you afraid of? health care constitutes one-sixth of the american economy. it impacts every man, woman, and child in our nation, and yet, we have 13 republicans, all men, working behind closed doors to produce legislation which will be brought to the united states senate at the last moment so the american people don't know the disaster that it is. you know, what politics is about or should be about is if you are proud of what you do, you tell the world about it. you explain to the american people, to your constituents why this is what i am proposing, this is how i voted, and this is
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why it is good for the people in my state and in my country. but it should tell every american, whether you are a democrat, a republican, or an independent, whether you are conservative or progressive, it should tell you something that major, major legislation is being written at this moment, and most republicans don't have a clue as to what's in that legislation let alone americans, let alone democrats, let alone the average american. so i say to the republican leadership what are you afraid of? bring that bill out. i am a member of the health, education, labor and pension committee. the health committee. the health committee. it is supposed to be the committee in which we deal with health issues. i see senator murray here is the ranking member of that
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committee, and she will concur with me that that committee has held zero hearings. it is the health committee. we have not had one hearing to ask members of the administration, people throughout this country what the impact of this legislation will be on the children, on the elderly, on working families, on those who have chronic diseases, on ordinary americans. what impact will this legislation have on the lives of 300-plus million people? we have not had one hearing, not one open discussion. and i should think that every republican should be embarrassed by this. i know that many of them are embarrassed about it. so before there is any vote on any health care legislation, we need to have a series of hearings to discuss the
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implications of what that legislation is about. mr. president, as i think you have heard, during the debate over the affordable care act, -- and i am a member of that committee -- we had 47 bipartisan hearings, not only in the health, education and labor committee but also in the finance committee, other committees. there were roundtables, there were walkthroughs of the affordable care act. there was a consideration of more than 300 amendments, some 150 amendments offered by republicans were accepted. in 2009 and 2010, the finance committee held 53 hearings, meetings, negotiations and walkthroughs on the affordable care act. that committee marked up the affordable care act for eight days. a markup means you accept
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amendments, you have debates on amendments. that was the longest markup in 22 years, and adopted during that process over ten republican amendments. when the bill was considered on the senate floor, the senate spent 25 consecutive days in session on health reform, the second longest session in history. and oddly enough and interestingly enough, many of my republican colleagues during that process after 25 consecutive days on the senate floor, after numerous hearings in the health committee, in the finance committee, there were senators who said there wasn't enough time. they were saying this is such an important piece of legislation, it's going to impact so many people, we need even more time. senator enzi said, quote, cutting off senate debate and
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deliberation with the budget reconciliation process would shortchange legislation with enormous impact, end quote. senator lamar alexander said, and i quote, i don't think people are going to feel as good about a bill that restructures one-sixth of our economy, that affects every single american's health and the health care bill is being written behind closed doors and the democratic leader's office. so, in other words, you had republican leaders thinking that the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours of discussion and debate on the affordable care act was not enough, and i find it amazing that those same republicans seem to think it's okay for legislation to be written behind closed doors and not have one single committee hearing. now, the truth is, mr. president, i can understand why republicans do not want open
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discussion and open debate on this issue. because the bill that they are working on, which is based on the disastrous bill passed in the house last month, is a bill that would do incalculable harm to people all over our country and really should not be considered as a health care bill. how do you talk about a so-called health care bill when you throw in -- when you are throwing 23 million people off of health insurance? when we talk about a health care bill, the assumption is we are improving health care in america, not doing what the republican house bill did was to throw 23 million americans off of health insurance. surely that is not improving health care for the american people. cutting medicaid by over $800 billion. and god only knows what the implication of that will be for the children, for the elderly, for people who are in nursing
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homes. you're not improving health care when you defund planned parenthood. and after all the rhetoric here about choice, choice, choice, we want the american people to be able to go to their provider of choice. oh, 2.5 million women today who get their health care through planned parenthood, i guess their choice doesn't matter. and we hear about the needs of working class people. we have a candidate donald trump who talked about the needs of working class people. the house republican bill and we think the senate bill will be very close to it, substantially raised premiums, substantially raised premiums for older workers, and that is why, among other groups opposing the house bill, the aarp made the point that this would be a disaster for older workers. the truth is, mr. president, this is not a health care bill.
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this is a tax break for the rich and multinational corporations bill. this is a bill that would provide over $200 billion in tax breaks to the top 2%. this is a bill that would provide hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks for the drug companies and the insurance companies. the last information i received, the pharmaceutical industry, the major five drug companies made over $50 billion in profit, but this legislation would throw americans off of health insurance to get the drug companies even more profit. this legislation, the house bily the bill being worked on behind closed doors -- is not only opposed by the aarp, the largest
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senior group in america, it is opposed by the american cancer society, by the american heart association, by the american lung association, the cystic fibrosis foundation, the march of dimes, the national m.s. society, the american medical association, because the doctors know what a disaster this will be for health care for millions of americans. the american nurses association and the american hospital association. all of these groups who are the pillars of health care in america saying no, no. this is a disastrous bill and yet we have the republican leadership and a dozen or so members working behind closed doors. mr. president, nobody here has suggested that the affordable care act should not be improved. in my view it should be improved. in my view deductibles are too high. copayments are too high.
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premiums are too high. and certainly the fact that we're paying twice as much as any other country for prescription drugs, that has got to be dealt with also. so the task right now among sensible people is to put on the table and to be honest about it what are the problems of the affordable care act? how do we lower deductibles? how do we lower copayments? how do we control escalating costs of health care? those are reasonable questions that honest people should debate but the answer is not to throw 23 million americans off of health insurance. that is not a solution to the problem. that is an insult to the american people. let me just conclude by stating this. our job right now is to make sure that the disastrous republican proposal never sees the light of day. and i would urge my democratic colleagues on behalf of the american people, the vast majority of whom know how bad
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this legislation is, that we have got to stand up and fight in an unprecedented way to make sure that that legislation never sees the light of day. and after we win that struggle, i would hope that we would come forward as a nation and join every other major country on earth, whether it's canada, and i live 50 miles away from the canadian border, whether it's the united kingdom, france, germany, that we would join every other major nation on earth and say that health care is a right of all people, not a privilege. if you are an american, you are entitled to health care. you should not be one of the 23 million people thrown off of health care bringing the total of uninsured in america over 50 million people. that is outrageous. so, mr. president, i think you're going to hear the american people stand up loudly and clearly, demand
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transparency, demand serious debate on an issue of this consequence and i think at the end of the day this legislation will be defeated. thank you. and i would yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, democrats come to the floor this evening as a voice for the people that we represent to fight back against republican plans to jam trumpcare through this senate, increase health care costs, and hurt families across the country. because republican leaders may hope nobody pays attention, they can hope they can go into these secret rooms and cut secret deals and come out with a trumpcare bill that they can jam through before anybody notices. we're not growing to allow that to happen. we are here. we're going to fight back and i can only hope that just a few republicans decide to listen to their constituents, reverse course, and work with us to improve health care instead of standing with president trump to
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destroy it. mr. president, i want to start by talking about a constituent of mine whose story i heard and whose voice and perspective should be a part of this debate. her name is lisa. she's from spokane in my home state of washington. lisa served our country in the navy for six years. she goes to school. she works part time. she says she relies on medicaid to afford the health care she needs, and she is very worried that if trumpcare passes, she would not only suffer from cuts to medicaid but she could lose her coverage altogether because. like many americans she has a preexisting condition, asthma. lisa's not alone. there are millions of people just like her in washington state and across this country. and each of them, every patient, every family has a stake in this fight. they deserve to be a part of this debate, and they have a
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right to know how trumpcare would impact them if it's signed into law. mr. president, that shouldn't be a partisan sentiment. i've heard republicans come to the floor time and again demanding transparency, railing against secrecy, calling for hearings. one republican senator who is now the chairman of the senate health committee came here to the senate floor back in 2009 to blast democrats for writing an amendment, quote, in secret. he said, and i quote, none of us on the republican side knew what was in it, and he accused democrats of trying to pass our bill, quote, before the american people find out what's in it. well, mr. president, my friend, the chairman of the health committee, is certainly not alone. back then the current republican majority leader said, and i quote, this is a massive piece of legislation that seeks to restructure one-sixth of our economy. it's being written behind closed doors without input from anyone in an effort to jam it past not
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only the senate but the american people. well, mr. president, that was not true back then. we held dozens of bipartisan hearings and meetings over months and months and months, but it is what republicans are doing right now. the chairman of the senate health committee whom i respect and never think he would be a part of an effort like this told me he was not planning to hold a single hearing on trumpcare. the chairman of the senate finance committee where a lot of work on this bill should be getting done told my friend, the senator from missouri, he wasn't going to hold a hearing either. there are reports now that republicans actually have a text of their bill. something is written and almost ready. democrats don't get to see that bill. people across the country are being kept in the dark. republican leaders are treating it like president trump's tax returns and not allowing it to see the light of day.
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it is absurd and it is unprecedented. we could be just days away from a massive bill being jammed through this senate and many republican senators are telling press and constituents they couldn't even say what was in the bill if they wanted to because they haven't seen it either. this bill is so secret, even president trump's top health advisor, the secretary of health and human services, told us in a hearing last week he hasn't seen how trumpcare is being changed in the back rooms of the senate. so, mr. president, let me ask this. why are republican leaders so focused on keeping trumpcare work secret? why are they keeping it locked down so tight and not letting people see what's even in it? what are they so ashimmed of? -- ashamed of? well, one republican senate aid was quoted defending this and i quote, we aren't stupid. in other words, republicans know
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it would be, quote, stupid to put this bill in the public because they know that people across the country, the people they are supposed to represent, would hate it. that explains a lot. republican leaders, those who are writing this trumpcare bill in secret, no they would not be able to go back home and defend it. they know the more people learn about what's actually in it and what the fine print might mean for them and their families, the more people back home are going to rise up and fight back. so they want to keep it wrapped up tight under lock and key, no hearings, no scrutiny, no public input. when they first announced their secret working group, not any women were in it. republican leaders are in their back rooms desperately trying to cut those final deals, doing whatever they can to bully those last few republicans into supporting something they know their constituents will hate. mr. president, we're here tonight to say enough is enough.
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this has got to end. health care is too important and trumpcare would be too devastating to allow this kind of secrecy to continue. mr. president, we don't know exactly what is in trumpcare bill being written in secret but you know what? we have a pretty good idea. no matter how much lipstick they put on this pig, based on everything we have heard, this is going -- the -- this is going the same way trumpcare went in the house, and the impact on patients and families would be just as bad. higher costs for families, especially seniors and people with preexisting conditions, higher costs. insurance companies no longer required to cover basic health care. you know, things like maternity care or mental health services and much more. women would lose access to see their doctors and the care they need at planned parenthood. and millions of people across the country would see their
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medicaid coverage taken away. that means people nationwide who are finally getting treatment for substance use disorders like opioid addiction or mental health care or access to a primary care doctor under medicaid are going to lose that access. mr. president, this would be so devastating for families across the country. over the past year i've met so many families in my home state who have lost a loved one to the opioid crisis, in bellingham, in spokane, community after community the story's always the same. i heard directly from people on the path to recovery, like tyler in yakama or michele in the tricities who told me how getting treatment changed their life for the better. mr. president, i couldn't imagine any senator would want to go home, look in their constituents' eyes and tell them they helped pass a bill that would take away the tools those
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communities need to fight this crisis. but that is what my republican colleagues are planning to do as we speak. and let's remember all of this damage would be done why? to give a massive tax break to special interests in the health industry and hand president trump a hollow political win. mr. president, it is truly shameful and it needs to stop. last week we learned president trump is now saying that the house bill is, quote, and i quote him, mean, mean. well, that is certainly an understatement from a president who doesn't often do subtlety and it's surprising to hear after we all saw him celebrate the house bill at the white house when it passed. but here's the truth. the house trumpcare bill isn't just mean, it is devastating. and the senate trumpcare bill is going to be just as bad no matter how they try to spin it or how many side deals they cut
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to claim it's changed. so, mr. president, i have a message for senate republicans who are so ashamed of what what's in this bill that they're keeping it secret. it's not too late to change course. it's not too late to bring this process out from the shadows. it is not too late to be honest with people across the country about what you are doing. it is not too late to listen to the voices of people like lisa. it's not too late to abandon this plan to jam trumpcare through congress. and if you do that, if you stop, democrats stand ready as we always have to work with you to actually make health care more affordable and accessible for patients and families across the country. mr. president, people across the country are watching. they are paying attention to this. they are not going to allow
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republicans to slip this through without any scrutiny. and we democrats are here to say loud and clear we're going to keep fighting to make sure they have a voice. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. i'm proud to join my colleagues tonight because this nation stands at a precipice on the verge of a tragic mistake, about to embark on a travesty that mocks the democratic process. truly the combination of secrecy and speed are a toxic recipe in our democracy. secrecy and speed will bring us recklessly over the edge of that precipice to tragic mistakes
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that belie and betray the people of america and the values that we all share in this chamber because they are basic to the american way of life and health care is a right. it should be recognized as a right. and the goal of extensive and comprehensive insurance coverage has to be ultimately a goal that we share in common. but right now we are speeding secretly toward a betrayal of american values and even of our constitutional duties. i'm deeply disappointed that the secrecy employed by my colleagues has brought us recklessly and rep hencably -- rep hencably to the verge of gutting the affordable care act. the absence of hearings before
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the committee, the absence of public debate, the absence of any text of a bill that can be debated and offered for public comment leaves us without a democratic bedrock principle of listening to the people of america and listening to the people who are most affected, who know the most, the experts and the patients. in fact, it is the patients who deserve to be heard here perhaps most of all. and yet my colleagues on the other side of the aisle seemingly will go to any length to suppress the create that -- the cruelty that lies in their alleged health care bill president trump has called mean. and that is an understatement. it is cruel beyond words and
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costly in lives and in dollars and cents because it will deepen and worsen health care issues that can be prevented and made curable or more palatable. let's be clear. this secrecy -- a small group of men making decisions about our entire health care system -- with no input from women, from medicare beneficiaries, from people with substance use disorders, from patients struggling with mental health illness, with any disease at all, is irresponsible and deadly -- truly cruel and costly to our democracy. the way these discussions have been done are a stain on this body and a slap in the face to every american that relies on us to make decisions that are in
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the best interests of their family as well as themselves. my colleagues seemingly would prefer to ram and rush a deeply flawed and unpopular bill through this body, ignoring the needs and will of the people they represent. that is a sad day in this chamber. we need public hearings, not for their own sake, not for our sake but more the individual recovering from substance use disorder -- thanks to medicaid -- for the mother of a little girl with a preexisting condition, terrified of how they'll pay for her care and able to do so now because of the affordable care act. the woman who is at a planned parenthood clinic today receiving mammogram and other cancer screenings and other preventive health care testing
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as well as men because of the coverage provided to them by medicaid and the affordable care act. defunding planned parenthood, risking again preexisting conditions, eliminating the guarantee of essential health benefits like maternity care is a war on women's health care and a disservice to our democracy done in secrecy. my colleagues across the aisle may succeed in gutting our nation's health care system, but the people who pay the highest price will be ordinary americans, working men and women and their families who now have health care coverage, to prevent more serious illness and who will now go without it. secrecy is the reasoning that i convened an emergency field hearing on health care today in
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connecticut on very short notice -- literally, 24, 48 hours -- people came from across connecticut at 9:00 a.m. my staff did yeoman's work putting together the logistics and the outpouring of anxiety and anger was remarkable. the eloquence and power of the insights offered by people about their own situations as well as about others whose interests they advocate. many decided to stay and stand, even though the room afforded inadequate numbers of seats for everyone. it was standing room only, and they literally streamed out theh hearing, and we have an
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obligation to listen to these americans. i told them that i would personally bring their voices and their faces to this chamber, to the floor of the united states senate, and in the coming days that's exactly what i will do because people need to hear the story of justice, a beautiful young woman who now is incapacitated because she suffered from an overdose, after seeking treatment, and the affect on others similarly seeking treatment will be so dire and damaging if coverage for addiction treatment and abuse treatment is eliminated. they need to hear this treatment of sean who similarly sought to overcome a substance abuse problem.
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they need to hear about individuals who would suffer from preexisting conditions. those stories are what i will be recounting in the coming days, as i share word for word their fears, their anxiety and apprehension and their worry for america about what will happen if the affordable care act is repealed and gutted. we must build on that act. we must improve its defects and make sure that it's worthy of the great goals that we share but not destroy it or decimate it. and building on it, acting constructively, coming together is what we owe the american people. the folks who came today to the state capital in hartford, at my
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emergency health care hearing, recognized that if they fail to stand up for planned parenthood or mental health or those people with preexisting conditions or medicaid or their loved one who is battling a dreadful disease, no one will. i am so proud of them and the people of connecticut who spoken up and stood up for the affordable care act, and i'm proud to bring their voices here to the united states senate, literally bring their voices here, as i will do over coming days, as i read into the record and put in the record their testimony, and as i hold a second hearing, probably later this week, because we couldn't hear from everyone who came to speak out and stand up. i hope that my republican colleagues will stop their denial, cease ignoring and disregarding those voices and come to listen to them instead
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and recognize that they cannot conceal the fact that the affordable care act has helped our nation's health. gutting it without any hearings or public debate is unconscionable and reprehensib reprehensible. it is a move they will regret. i stand ready to build on the great strides made by the affordable care act, and i hope my colleagues are ready to do the same. but if -- if this chamber proceeds down this reckless and repre-hencable path of speed toward repeal and gutting the affordable care act, i promise to do everything in my power and use every tool at our disposal to stop this process. we cannot go about normal business in the united states senate while so many back in our states demand that we fight.
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and we must fight. i will stand with hundreds of thousands in connecticut who will lose their insurance -- more than 220,000. i will stand with the people of connecticut who will lose billions of dollars in investment in health care. i will stand with more than 20,000 people in connecticut and a million around the country who will lose jobs, according to a study recently done by the commonwealth fund. jobs althoughs are inevitably the result -- job losses are inevitably the result at some point in the future because of gutting this program. i will stand with the people who will resist, indeed resist, this secrecy and speed that so disserves the values and betrays the


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