Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate Debates Health Care Law Repeal  CSPAN  January 10, 2017 11:59am-1:02pm EST

11:59 am
nick wrote to share the story of recent medical emergency that threatened his life. this past march my heart suffered a debilitating viral infection which resulted in congestive heart failure. as things stand i require a new heart and a weight that a current with patients and resolve. he continues, thanks to the aca i was able to purchase health insurance a month prior to that diagnosis.ave without it i don't know how i i could've paid for my initial three-week hospitalization. without it my ability to obtain a replacement organ with the uncertain. without it i envision a bankruptcy filing as the only viable financial option. individuals are writing about their challenge of -- >> the sin is about the gambling to continue work on a republican plan to repeal the affordable care act. it's part of the 2017 budget
12:00 pm
resolution and directs the committee to write the repealed law. the resolution will also address the committee to start biting something to replace the healthcare law. a number of amendments are pending and we will see a couple of votes at 2:3 2:30 p.m. easte. final voting is expected to begin tomorrow. this is live coverage on c-spa c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, our hope for years to come, we worship you. your name is great, and we offer
12:01 pm
you our adoration and praise. bless our senators. open their eyes so that they can discern your involvement in human affairs. prepare their hearts and minds for today's challenges inspiring them to conduct themselves with courtesy and honor. keep their motives pure, their words true, and their actions constructive. almighty god, we acknowledge that our lives are in your hands. so please keep our feet from stumbling.
12:02 pm
we pray in your merciful name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., january 10, 2017. under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable ted cruz, a senator from the state of texas, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, president pro tempore.
12:03 pm
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: the senate committees have been working for many weeks to process president-elect trump's cabinet nominations. i want to commend the committees and their staffs for their very hard work. now we begin the next phase of this process with committee hearings. in fact, it just began this morning in the senate judiciary committee. i'd like to say a word about our colleague from alabama. each of us knows senator sessions. we've worked with him. we know he cares about his country and the department he'll be tasked to lead. we know he's a forthright colleague and experienced lawyer and someone who believes strongly in the rule of law. we know that he'll reach across the aisle as well. he supported president obama's
12:04 pm
first nominee eric holder. he worked with our late colleague ted kennedy on prison reform. he worked with our current colleague senator durbin on sentencing reform. senator durbin in fact noted that senator sessions is quote "a man of his word." senator leahy called him wonderful to work with. senator schumer, the democratic leader said he's state forward and fair. and let me quote from a former democratic senate colleague who knows senator sessions after having served with him for 16 years. here's what he said. "i always found jeff to be an honorable and trustworthy person, a smart and good lawyer, and a thoughtful and open minded listener." he continued with this. i believe he'll be a principled, fair and capable attorney general. if i were in the senate today, i would vote aye on his nomination." that's former democratic vice presidential nominee joe
12:05 pm
lieberman. it's not just our democratic colleagues who have praise for senator sessions. let me read a letter from one of senator sessions' constituents in alabama. albert f. turner, jr. here's what he had to say. my family and i have literally be on the front line of the fight for civil rights my whole life, reads the letter. i believe that senator sessions is someone with whom i and others in the civil rights community can work with if given the opportunity. i believe that he will listen as he has in the past to the concerns of my community. more than most, i'm familiar with him. i believe he will be fair in his application of the law and the constitution as such i support his nomination to be the next attorney general of the united states. now, a lot of unfair things have been said about our colleague from alabama in recent weeks. i'm glad he's finally getting the chance to show americans in the committee tha, senator sesss
12:06 pm
that we all know and serve with. i look to the fair treatment of our colleague's forthcoming nomination, just as it's fairly processed incoming president obama pick for attorney general, a nominee who as i noted senator sessions supported. so let me turn to a larger point. the nominations process for an incoming president is important. as president obama recently said when he met with president-elect trump, the presidency is bigger than any one person and that's why ensuring a smooth transition is so important. i certainly agree. when president obama was elected republicans worked across the aisle to confirm seven, seven of his nominees on inauguration day. and five more by the end of the first week. these nominees were hardly centrist. we had reservations about many of them. but democrats had won the presidency and the senate and we hadn't. i ask our friends across the
12:07 pm
aisle to now demonstrate the same courtesy and seriousness for president-elect trump's nominees, especially his national security team. the senate has a long-standing tradition of confirming the cabinet nominees of a newly elected administration in a timely fashion and the senate and its committees are now following the same standard for president-elect trump and his nominees as we have for past presidents. now, i know some are urging democrats to play partisan games and needless delay. i hope they won't. the american people will see through it anyway. here's a perfect example. the democratic leader has been quoting a letter i sent to then senator harry reid in 2009. he apparently missed the fact that the letter he's been quoting was not only sent after every one of president obama's eligible nominees had hearings but after all but one had been confirmed. so it's actually an important reminder of how republicans fairly treated an incoming
12:08 pm
president obama's cabinet nominees and how democrats should now do the same. this is time for serious consideration and cooperation. americans aren't looking for partisan games. we're a nation at war. we're a nation grappling with a slow economy. americans want the incoming president to have his national and economic security teams in place to get to work. they want us to work together across the aisle to get this done. that's what republicans did in 2009. it's what we're doing now and it's what we invite our democratic friends to join us in getting accomplished. now, mr. president, on a different matter, families across the country have been hurt by obamacare's rising costs and limited choices. and we continue to hear the stories from constituents back home. my own home state of kentucky was once championed as a success story by obamacare's supporters. that's hardly the case today.
12:09 pm
too many kentuckians are watching their insurance premiums grow higher and higher. they're struggling to meet deductibles so high that their insurance is almost useless. they're watching their friends and neighbors lose their plans or access to family doctors. and they sit around the kitchen table and try to budget for their family's future. they know one thing for sure. the promises of obamacare have failed them. obamacare promised lower costs but premiums have skyrocketed. it promised families could keep their plans or doctors but many have seen their options in fact limited. kentuckians want to see lower costs, more choices and better care but after seven long years of rising costs and diminishing options, obamacare has not delivered. and the people of kentucky are demanding change. they've been loud and clear in theirtaste for obamacare. like other members of's received letters, e-mails and phone
12:10 pm
calls. i've met with constituents directly who are feeling the pain of higher costs and fewer choices. consider this mom in kentucky. she's facinged higher cost -- facing the higher cost of health insurance and she literally doesn't know what to do. here's what she said. my family is being pushed out of the middle class by the obamacare law. how can we pay almost $1200 a month on health insurance? listen to this veteran and father from louisville after his plan was discontinued. he tried to buy insurance through obamacare. only to find that his children's pediatrician wouldn't accept it. this dad worries that unless something is done, he'll be one of thousands of kentuckians who will find they do not have insurance options. i've heard from many constituents expressing similar frustration, disappointment, and anger about the outcomes of obamacare. they expected the law to deliver on its promises but instead they paid more and received less. this year the cost of insurance
12:11 pm
premiums in kentucky spiked up to 47%. these price increases are a direct result of instability injected into the market by obamacare and families across ken are scrambling to find ways to fit the extra expenses into their budgets. to make matters worse, the choices that families once had for health insurance continue to disappear. nearly half of the counties in kentucky only have one option for a health insurance provider on the exchange. and when there's only one choice, there's really no choice at all. for the people of kentucky and people across the country, repeal means relief. the time to act is now. however, our friends on the other side of the aisle are doing everything they can to stop us from fulfilling our promise to help the american people. instead of continuing to push their political agenda, i would urge them to help us. i ask them to listen to the
12:12 pm
american people who are demanding change. a recent gallop poll showed that eight out of ten americans wanted to see obamacare significantly changed, significantly changed or completely replaced. mr. mcconnell: it's time to admit it. obamacare has failed. this partisan experiment is hurting more than it's helping. it's time to finally move past it and replace it with something that actually works. the repeal resolution is the first step to bring relief for hard-working americans and to prevent health insurance markets from imploding. next we need to work together to replace obamacare with health care policies that actually work for families. once we repeal obamacare, we can use the stable transition period to deliver on another promise. i would encourage colleagues on both sides to offer their input as we work to lower costs, increase choices, and promote better care. one thing is certain. republicans will continue to follow through on our promises
12:13 pm
and act on behalf of our constituents toll bring relief from obamacare. mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: as hearings for the president-elect's nominees get under way starting today, i wanted to reiterate that a fair and thorough investigating process is a top priority not only for my caucus but for the american people.
12:14 pm
chief to achieving that fair hearing schedule and process is first, it means that hearings are -- that are sufficiently spaced out so that members that sit on multiple committees can actually attend all the hearings. it means that only holding hearings -- it means only holding hearings after the full committee paperwork, o.g. review, f.b.i. background check and full divestment plan has been received and senators have adequate time to review the information. and it means if there are senators with remaining questions that weren't covered in a first hearing, they can have the nominee come back for a second day. mr. president, our caucus and much of america was alarmed and disappointed by the announcements of the hearing schedule this week which did not meet the best practices and the basic courtesies that have
12:15 pm
always been extended in the past. however, mr. president, i'm happy to say that after negotiating with my friend, the majority leader, and his respective committee chairs, we've been able to make some progress on a fair hearing process. i -- i appreciate the majority leader's openness and effort to accommodate our caucus in the last few days. originally, there were six hearings scheduled for this wednesday. all especially important cabinet posts -- state, attorney general, education, transportation, homeland security, c.i.a. that was largely unprecedented. we've looked back in history, can only find one instance where there were that many hearings of important cabinet members on one day like that. but after negotiations with the majority leader, we've moved things around so that there are now only three hearings scheduled for wednesday --
12:16 pm
secretary of state, transportation and the second day of the a.g. hearings. all of these nominees have their paperwork in, all of them. that has been that i have mentioned before. the nominee for secretary of education who does not yet have a signed ethics agreement and whose paperwork is not close to complete was moved. that hearing will take place next week pending that our paperwork is submitted with time for senators to review. so it's still a busy week. a little too busy for my personal taste, but it's a good first step. i hope we can continue to negotiate in good faith to sort out the schedule in a way that is acceptable to both of our caucuses. mr. president, i also want to make clear that this progress does not mean that our caucus is any less intent on having the
12:17 pm
president-elect's nominees complete the standard ethics forms, questionnaires and f.b.i. background checks required of every nominee. to have all this information come in after the hearing is sort of like alice in wonderland. it makes no sense and has things upside-down. i'm still concerned, for example, that we don't have a completed f.b.i. background check for the nominee for secretary of state. his hearing starts tomorrow. and today there are reports in the media that under rex tillerson's leadership, exxon conducted business with iran, potentially in violation of u.s. sanctions law. so there are really serious questions that need to be answered. in this particular case, mr. tillerson should release all his tax returns and promise to answer any questions on the iran
12:18 pm
dealings that members ask. this is too serious a subject to have questions ducked. it demands a completely open airing of all relevant information. did mr. tillerson go around our iran sanctions simply to line exxon's pockets? that would be a very bad thing. the american people ought to know about it before the senate has to vote to confirm. for rex tillerson to answer the questions and particularly questions about exxon setting up a separate subsidiary to get around our iran sanctions is what the founding fathers wanted us to do when they enumerated in the advise and consent process. and, mr. president, this is not a partisan game. we're not doing this for sport. these aren't obscure procedural
12:19 pm
complaints. this is standard process. and as i reminded my friend, the majority leader, yesterday, this is the same exact process my counterpart demanded in 2009 when the shoe was on the other foot. just as then-minority leader mcconnell laid out in his 2009 letter to then-majority leader reid, democrats expect each nominee to have all the prerequisites with time to review before we move forward with the hearings. president obama's nominees completed all of their paperwork in 2009 before the hearings. we expect nothing less from president-elect trump's nominees particularly we expect that the paperwork to be all in with time to review. having the paperwork in at 7:00 a.m. and holding a hearing at 10:00 a.m. is unacceptable, and we expect there will be adequate time for follow-up questions on a second day of
12:20 pm
hearings of senators -- if senators are unable to finish their questions. now, today my colleague, the majority leader, said well, most of the cabinet nominees were in already when this letter came out, but the letter doesn't specify who. it includes cabinet members, and there were future cabinet members that would come forward. it's a good standard. we're all for it. we're asking our friends on the other side of the aisle to stick with it. what was good for them in 2009 is good for the country in 2017. so, mr. president, we are insistent on the process because it's the right thing to do. it's the american thing to do. we don't hide nominees and rush them through. they have huge power, huge power. if president-elect, our
12:21 pm
republican colleagues are as proud of the nominees as they state, then they should be happy to have them answer a lot of questions in a hearing that is not rushed. it's how we'll ensure that cabinet officials who are imbued with an immense power in our government are ethically and substantively qualified for these positions. and, mr. president, if there is any group of cabinet nominees that cries out for this process, it's this group of nominees. this proposed cabinet is unlike any other. it is wealthier than any other. it has a complex web of corporate connections. so many of the nominees that pose huge potential conflict of interest problems. and frankly, it is the most hard right cabinet in its ideology. quite different from the way president-elect trump campaigned. the potential conflicts of interest for multimillionaires like rex tillerson or betsy
12:22 pm
devos or steve mnuchin are enormous. as i have said, the nominees have views so far to the right of what the president campaigned on. the most glaring example is representative price. his whole career has been focused on ending medicare as we know it. my colleague, the majority leader, said the american people want us to move forward and give president-elect trump his nominees. if they knew that one of the nominees had been dedicateed to basically getting rid of medicare, would they want us to vote for him? i'll bet not. but it sure explains why they want to rush these nominees through. they don't want all of these things brought to life, but that is the wrong thing to do, and we're going to fight to get the right thing to do. the american people have a right to know if they voted for a president who might be going back on one of his key campaign
12:23 pm
promises. they deserve nothing less than open and deliberate hearings going forward. will representative price stick with what president-elect trump said? no cuts to medicare, medicaid? or will he pursue his lifelong dream of privatizing and limiting them? washington, d.c. see. but we need answers. at hearings before we vote, and the american people are entitled to it. so once again, i thank the majority leader for dealing in good faith and trying to address our concerns. i hope for the sake of the national interest that our two parties can come together on an agreement for the remainder of the process as we have for the process so far. now, on a separate matter, a.c.a., mr. president, last night, senate democrats held the floor late into the night to
12:24 pm
dmon straight our commitment and solidarity to defending a.c.a., to defending the tens of millions of americans who have been afforded the opportunity to access care for the first time and the tens of millions more whose coverage is fairer, more generous, more affordable because of the law. more than 35 members participated here on the floor or on facebook live, snapchat or twitter. i thank each and every one of the members on my side, the vast majority of our caucus, for participating. many of them discussed the threat, the republican plan to make america sick again poses to the health care of 300 million americans, but beyond that, the republican budget resolution calls for a massive increase in the federal debt. yesterday, sean donovan, the director of the office of management and budget, released a letter explaining that this
12:25 pm
budget resolution would allow publicly held debt to increase by $9.5 trillion. from $14.2 trillion in 2016 to $23.7 trillion in 2026. our colleagues have talked about being deficit hawks. democrats bring up ideas. they say can't do it, increases the deficit. well, is that going to apply to this which increases the deficit by massive amounts? it would -- the deficit would exceed $1.3 trillion in 2026. that's almost as high as the $1.4 trillion at the depths of that recession and financial crisis that president obama had to meet. are my colleagues now going to do a 180-degree reversal and say that now the debt increase of such dramatic numbers is okay? i hope not. it wouldn't be right. it wouldn't be fair.
12:26 pm
it wouldn't be consistent. i ask -- i ask unanimous consent, mr. president, that a copy of director donovan's letter be entered into the record at this point. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, many of my republican colleagues like to claim they care about the deficit. during president obama's administration, there was an obsession over deficit and deficit reduction, and, by the way, no praise for the president for reducing the debt by a dramatic amount -- the deficit by a dramatic amount. now many of those same members who chastised president obama for much smaller deficits than those proposed in our budget are supporting this budget resolution. well, i'd say to my colleagues you can't claim to be a fiscal hawk and support a budget that piles on trillions in additional debt. that's not being fiscally conservative. it's being fiscally hypocritical in the extreme.
12:27 pm
so far, my friend, senator paul of kentucky, has made this point forcefully. my question is -- will other republicans stand with him and stand up against this fiscal hypocrisy? thank you, mr. president, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s. con. res. 3, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 1, s. con. res. 3, setting forth the congressional budget for the united states government for fiscal year 2017, and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2018-2026. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate recess from 1:00 until 2:00 p.m. for the weekly conference meetings and the time in recess count equally against
12:28 pm
velazquez 3. further, that senator sanders or his designee control the time from 2:00 until 2:30, and finally, that there be two minutes equally divided in the usual form prior to the vote on the flake amendment. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, i would ask in clarifying that recent request, i would ask unanimous consent the senate recess from 1:00 until 2:00 p.m. for the weekly conference meetings. that that time not count against the s. con. res. 3. the presiding officer: without objection, as modified. mr. thune: mr. president, i also ask unanimous consent that matthew taylor, a congressional fellow in senator cochran's office, be granted floor privileges for the remainder of the 115th congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, last week, the senate began consideration of the obamacare repeal resolution, which is the first step in the process of repealing the law.
12:29 pm
and, mr. president, it is time for repeal. seven years ago, obamacare was sold to the american people with a lot of promises. the law was going to reduce premiums for families. it was going to fix problems with our health care system without hurting anyone who is happy with their health coverage. if you like your health plan, you'll be able to keep it, people all across this country were told over and over again. if you like your doctor, you'll be able to keep your doctor, also a promise and a claim that was made over and over again. well, mr. president, as everyone knows, every one of these promises was broken. premiums for families have continued to rise. millions of americans lost health care plans that they liked. americans regularly discovered that they couldn't keep their doctors and that their choice of replacement was often limited. but, mr. president, these broken promises were just the tip of the iceberg. the law hasn't just failed to live up to its promises.
12:30 pm
it is actively collapsing, and the status quo is unsustainable. premiums on the exchanges are soaring. deductibles regularly run into the thousands of dollars. for 2017, the average deductible for a bronze level obamacare plan is rising from $5,731 to to $092. $6,092. with deductibles like that, it's no wonder that some americans can't afford to actually use their obamacare insurance. mr. president, i received a lot of mail from constituents in my state struggling to pay for their health care. one stilt contacted me to say and i quote, "my obamacare premium went up from $1080 to $1175 per month. a 64% increase.
12:31 pm
$21,300 a year for health insurance. let me repeat that. a 64% increase in premiums, $21,300 a year for health insurance, $21,300. that's like paying another mortgage or, mr. president, that's a lot more than many people pay for their mortgages. and of course that's before any deductibles or other out of pocket costs are considered. another constituent told me and i quote, "today i received another premium notice from. the policy for myself, my wife and teenaged son is increased by 357%. 357%. mr. president, the problems on the exchanges aren't limited to soaring costs unfortunately. insurers are pulling out of the exchanges right and left and health care choices are rapidly dwindling. narrow provider networks or the order of the day. one-third of american counties had just one choice of health insurer on their exchange.
12:32 pm
this is not the health care reform that the american people were looking for. so it's no surprise that a recent gallop poll found that 80% of americans want major changes to obamacare or want the law entirely repealed and replaced. or that 74% of american voters ranked health care as a very important voting issue for them in the 2016 elections. obamacare has not fixed our nation's health care problems. it has made them worse. the american people deserve better. last week the senate started considering the obamacare repeal resolution and we're continuing that process this week. this resolution will provide us with the tools that we need to repeal the law and then committees will get to work on the actual repeal bills. and then we'll work step by step to replace obamacare with real health care reform that focuses on personalized patient-centered
12:33 pm
care. mr. president, one massive problem with obamacare is the fact that it puts washington in charge of health care decisions that should be made at a much lower level. any obamacare reform the republicans pass will focus on fixing this. we're going to move control from washington and give it back to states and the individuals. health care issues don't have one size fits all solutions. it's time to stop acting like they do. states should have the power to innovate and embrace health care solutions that work for the individuals and the employers in their states. individuals should be able to make health care decisions in consultation with their doctors, not with washington, d.c. another thing we're going to focus on is breaking down the obamacare barriers that artificially restricted choice. as i said earlier, obamacare has defaulted to a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to health
12:34 pm
care. and that means that many americans have found themselves paying for health care that they don't need or want. we need much more flexibility in insurance plans. a thriving health care system would offer a wide variety of choices that would allow americans to pick a plan tailored to their needs. that would be a competitive system that gives people in this country more choices and inevitably what happens, mr. president, in those circumstances, it pushes the cost down. we also need to give americans the tools to better manage their health care and control costs. and of course any reform plan has to make sure that small businesses have the tools they need to provide employees with affordable health coverage. obamacare has placed huge burdens on small businesses that have made it difficult for them to thrive and even to survive. it's time to lift these burdens
12:35 pm
and free up these businesses to grow and create jobs. mr. president, our health care system wasn't perfect before obamacare. we all acknowledge that. but obamacare was not the answer. instead of fixing the problems in our health care system, it's just made things worse. republicans are ready to implement the kind of health care reform the american people are looking for. more affordable, more personal, more flexible health care coverage that meets their need needsand less bureaucratic. the american people are ready for health care reform that actually works and that's exactly what republicans are going to give them starting right now. mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
12:36 pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wiem. a senator: thank you. i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: i would like to congratulate my colleague from south dak for his comment. i've been hearing the same thing in wiem about the health care law and the impact of people in his state i'm hearing the same thing and heard it this past weekend in wyoming talking to people about what impact obamacare has had on their lives. mr. barrasso: it's very interesting, mr. president, because people all around the state of wyoming are talking about the fact the costs have gone up, choices have gone down, many who had insurance that worked for them lost that insurance all related to a law passed in the house and in the senate and signed into law by president obama. so tonight in chicago president obama is going to give a
12:37 pm
farewell address. and i'm assuming that he talks about obamacare and i'm assuming that he paints a very different picture than what the american people have seen and are living with. and now i see the president using scare tactics about what republicans plan to do. well, no matter what president obama wants, the american people have spoken. they have voted. and eight out of ten people say that what this costly and complicated health care law has done with them, they would like to see it either changed or significantly changed or repealed and replaced. now, they know better than to believe what the democrats are continuing to tell them because they've been living with it every day. seven years ago democrats made one false claim after another when they were trying to sell this law to the american people. democrats said if you like your doctor, you can keep your
12:38 pm
doctor. they said if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. you know, that one was labeled the lie of the year a few years ago. they said that premiums for average -- for the average people would go down by $2500. none of it was true. now democrats are out telling more tales about obamacare. all of these new stories are going to be just as false as the ones that they told us all in the past. for one thing, democrats have been saying that millions of americans are going to lose their health insurance if we repeal the obama health care law. in a letter just last week, senator schumer and senator sanders said that republicans are planning, they said, to take health care coverage away from more than 30 million americans. it's not going to happen. and the democrats absolutely know it's not going to happen. it doesn't stop them from saying it. the fact is that this should never have been about health insurance in the first place.
12:39 pm
as a doctor i will tell you this should have been about health care and patients. republicans are going to make sure that's where the focus is from now on. the number of people with good health insurance coverage under obamacare actually has been a lot less than what the democrats are claiming. that's because lots of people who bought obamacare coverage only did it because the health care law forced them to give up the insurance that they already had and liked and worked for them. i've heard many stories from people in wyoming who had insurance, worked for them. they chose it because it was best for them and their family and they lost it because the president said it wasn't good enough for him. these are people who were hurt by the broken promises and by president obama's well earned award of lie of the year. with the health care law most of the people who got insurance for
12:40 pm
the first time were actually forced into the broken system called medicaid. most of those people were actually eligible for medicaid before the law was even signed. but for people who didn't have insurance before, a lot of them still can't afford care now because they may have insurance but the deductibles are so high that they can't afford to use it. half of obamacare enrollees say that they're actually skipping doctor visits in order to save money. well, if a family's health insurance doesn't cover the care that they need, then the number of people covered is totally meaningless. democrats are out there saying that if we try to replace obamacare with a better solution that is just going to -- in their words is going to cause chaos in the health insurance industry. where have they been? there is chaos everywhere because of obamacare. when you look at what democrats did to america's health care
12:41 pm
system, what you see is chaos. premiums up 25% in one year. that's chaos. deductibles up by an average of $450 in a year. that's chaos. there is no functioning marketplace for obamacare in one-third of the country. that's chaos. when americans look at this, they -- what they say is already chaos and obamacare caused it. now, i want to mention one of the false claims that the democrats are making, and it has to do with medicaid. that's because medicaid was broken long before obamacare. all the health care law did was add more people on to this broken program. one reason that medicaid is struggling is the same reason that the rest of obamacare isn't working. because medicaid tries to impose too many rules and too many
12:42 pm
regulations from washington. it tries to make one size fit all. there are different needs in every state. states know what those needs are, and they know much better than washington knows about the people who live in those states. there are republican governors like mike pence of indiana who understood this very important fact, and i'm glad he's soon to be vice president. governors like mike pence fought for waivers, waivers to make sure they could do what the people of their states needed. every governor should have that kind of freedom to look out for the best interests of the people of their home states. shouldn't have to ask for permission for some unaccountable, unelected washington bureaucrat before making improvements to their own medicaid program. giving states the freedom to come up with better solutions is just one of the things republicans are going to do to replace obamacare with real health care reform. states need and deserve to have
12:43 pm
that freedom. and people should be free to buy the health insurance that meets their needs, not what meets the needs of the president of the united states. people shouldn't have to pay more for coverage that isn't a good value for them. and that's why so many people aren't even signing up in the first place and would rather pay the penalty, a penalty that in my mind is still unconstitutional. families should have more flexibility to save for their own medical care. that's a way to make sure they're not stuck with empty coverage, coverage that they can't afford to use. and people shouldn't be mandated to buy this overpriced, unusable insurance or face a penalty from the i.r.s. it's one of the most outrageous parts of the entire health care law. to me it's the first thing that has to go on the chopping block. republicans are going to repeal damaging and destructive ideas like obamacare's many taxes and mandates and penalties. then we're going to walk through better solutions one by one,
12:44 pm
step by step, and i hope some of the democrats in congress will join us. the democrat senators must be heading home on weekends and listening to people who have been impacted the way i've described the people of wyoming believe they're impacted by the health care law. they have to realize that there are things we must do better and more freedoms must be given to the american people. the american people have suffered long enough with the chaos created by obamacare. it took years for health insurance markets to get this bad, and it's going to take time to get things fixed. this resolution that we've introduced to repeal obamacare is the start. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, i want to thank my colleague from
12:45 pm
wyoming, the doctor, the senator who's been involved in this, in health care all of his adult life and particularly since he got to the senate, he's been looking at alternatives to what we have and will be an intricate part of any replacement that we do. we know what the problems are, and we're in the land of denial right now, with the democrats making speeches about the fearmongering of what might be changed. this isn't -- this isn't the point at which it gets changed. this is the point at which it gets set up so that it can be changed. and i look forward to actually doing the repeal and the replacement under the guidance of senator barrasso from wyoming. i yield the floor. ms. stabenow: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan.
12:46 pm
ms. stabenow: thank you, mr. president. let me first say to my distinguished colleague and friend, the chairman of the budget committee, that we look forward to seeing the replacement as well because that's really the key right now. people across the country are saying wait a minute, you're going to unravel the system, you're going to repeal, take away the health care i have, the patient protections i have, and we don't even know if it will be any better. then why in the world would that be done if the new system wasn't going to be better than the old system? and right now we don't see anything. we see six years of repeals coming from the house and the senate. no plans. we still don't see a plan. and we have no idea and more importantly the millions of people, everyone with insurance who is either getting patient
12:47 pm
protections or affordable care that they couldn't get before or medicare strengthened or medicaid support, no one knows what will happen next. doctors, nurses, health care providers, no one knows what's going to happen next, and i think it's the most irresponsible approach to addressing one of the basic needs for all of our families that we could ever have. and so we know that in the end we can pull the threat that essentially you unravel the whole system. at minimum, create instability and 1/6 of the entire economy, and there is no plan being held up that would improve health care, which we're all for, i'm all for, making the health care system more affordable for families, strengthening health care. let's do it. unraveling and creating chaos in
12:48 pm
the health care system. no. it makes absolutely no sense. and in the end, we know, in fact, this is going to make america sick again. i want to share, mr. president, a couple of stories. first today from mary in dundee who owns a small business and has a 20-year-old daughter with preexisting conditions, because for her coverage but also what we call the patients' bill of rights is absolutely critical. the parts of the affordable care act that affect everybody with insurance. 75% of americans get their insurance through their employer. and in the past, they could get dropped if they got sick, if they had diabetes, juvenile diabetes, had had a heart condition, high blood pressure for women who were of child-bearing years. that could be viewed as a preexisting condition. and in the past, insurance
12:49 pm
companies had total control to decide who got coverage, when they got dropped, what would happen when you got sick and needed medical care. that changed with a patients' bill of rights in the affordable care act. it did a whole range of things to make sure the insurance you pay for every month actually provides medical care when you need it for you and your family. so let's start with mary's story. she wanted to express her concern about repeel of the affordable care act, and i appreciate very much -- repeal of the affordable care act, and i appreciate very much the fact that she shared her story with me. she said my family and i have purchased our coverage through the marketplace for 2015, 2016, and now 2017. this opportunity has allowed us to become self-employed. they can open their own business. they weren't tied to their job because of the need for health
12:50 pm
insurance. and they now have opened their own small business in dundee, michigan. prior to the a.c.a., she says he was working to provide coverage. how many times have we heard that? i have heard that even in my own extended family. then i lost my full-time status, and as a part-time employee, the hours i worked barely covered my portion of the employer-provided health care. by enrolling for coverage through the marketplace, i was able to pick up the coverage i needed for our family at an affordable price. not knowing what the future would hold because i was starting my own small business and self-employed. we have three daughters. our oldest has life-threatening allergies and asthma. and i did not need to worry that we would be denied coverage due
12:51 pm
to preexisting conditions. as congress proceeds to dismantle the a.c.a., i am concerned primarily for my oldest daughter who is in her sophomore year. congratulations, at the university of michigan-dearborn. she is 20 years old. will she continue to have coverage through our insurance until she is 26 that the a.c.a. provides? if not, what kind of coverage will she be able to afford due to her preexisting condition? why should more obstacles in the way of our young adults? that is a really good question, mary. and it makes no sense to do that. she goes on to say the a.c.a. for sure has fault and like everything could be improved, but to scrap it and not use it at least as a seed to grow and
12:52 pm
improve is beyond my understanding. to suggest that there's nothing to keep is absurd, and 20 million to 30 million americans enrolled agree with us. i agree with you as well, mary. thank you for sharing your story. the coverage in the affordable care act, the strengthening of medicare and medicaid are critical. also, too, are the patient protections, the patient bill of rights that affects people who buy insurance now who finally got some control back from the insurance companies who made every single decision, being able to know that if, in fact, you get sick or your child has a serious health condition, they won't be denied care for the rest of their lives, being able to have them stay on your insurance as they start out in
12:53 pm
life. so many protections, caps on treatments, number of treatments and services that were eliminated. so the patients' bill of rights is absolutely critical. i want to take just a moment to speak about another piece of this which relates to patients' bill of rights as it relates to women. in the past, the majority of plans, about 70% of the insurance plans in the private sector that a woman might choose to try and purchase didn't cover basic maternity care. i couldn't believe it when i first heard that. wait a minute. basic paternity -- basic maternity care? now every plan is required to cover basic maternity care. it makes sense. no longer is just being a woman
12:54 pm
a preexisting condition. that is part of the patients' bill of rights. the capacity to now get preventative care. a mammogram, cancer screenings, other kinds of preventative care is done without a co-pay, so we want people to go in and get that checkup, and if there is a problem, be able to tackle it early. not only most important because it's better for the person, but it also means there will be less cost to the health care system if you can catch something early. so the patients' bill of rights is really critical to that. but there's something else that is also in here that is appalling to me and goes directly to the question of women's health care, and that is the fact that this bill repeals planned parenthood services and
12:55 pm
basically guts women's health care for women across michigan and women across the country. for 75% of the women who use a planned parenthood clinic in michigan, their visit will be the only health care they get all year. we have rural counties in northern michigan where the only health care clinic doing be preventative care, cancer screening, basic services, ob/gyn visits, is the planned parenthood clinic. and so many people, many women across michigan will see their access to health care denied if this passes and planned parenthood loses their funding. 71,000 different patients, the
12:56 pm
majority women in michigan in 2014 received care. breast exams, pap smears, prenatal visits. again, tying this all together, we want to cover maternity care. we also want healthy moms and healthy babies, and that means prenatal care. and we have communities, small towns as well as big cities, but i have to say it's the small towns and rural communities around michigan where women are going to be denied when it's the only clinic that is there. i want to share a story from lori from jonesville about the affordable care act and her particular situation. she said i have had type one diabetes for 54 years. when i needed to retire early at the age of 62 because of complications due to my diabetes. i looked at the affordable care
12:57 pm
act for health insurance. she says i couldn't afford cobra. i was able to buy health insurance at what i consider an affordable price with a small co-pay for my medicine. the most expensive one being insulin at a retail price of of $296 a month. as you know, my preexisting conditions of type one diabetes and heart disease and a visual impairment, both complications of diabetes, would have been uninsurable without the affordable care act, without the patients' bill of rights which says she has a right to be able to purchase health insurance. in june of 2016, i was diagnosed with breast cancer. luckily, diagnosed at stage one in a routine mammogram.
12:58 pm
without the a.c.a., i wouldn't have been able to afford the mammogram. or the subsequent treatment without depleting our life savings. i quickly reached my maximum out-of-pocket costs, and while some people would say having to pay that is a concern, not me. my total bill so far is over $150,000 for my cancer treatment. so the combination in here of repealing planned parenthood funding for health clinics that would allow someone like lori to go in and get a mammogram and rather than waiting until she has a level of breast cancer that cannot be effectively treated, that might otherwise
12:59 pm
cause a loss of her life, she was able to catch this early because she was able to get a screening, a mammogram, the kinds that women all over michigan in small towns all over michigan have the capacity to do now, both because there is no co-pay for that mammogram but also because they have a clinic available in their community where they can get care. all of this fits together. access to preventative care for women. the health care clinics that are available around michigan and around the country. and the patients' bill of rights which says you've got a right to care. this is not just about the insurance companies making every decision based on the fact that they want to make more money rather than cover you. you have the right to make sure that if you get sick, you don't
1:00 pm
get dropped. and if you have had breast cancer or diabetes, you have the right to have access to affordable health care. so, mr. president, i would hope that colleagues would join together, stop this craziness of trying to repeal health reform and protections for every single american, and instead sit down together and look at how we can make it better. our republican colleagues will find willing partners in making the system more affordable and better, but we will continue to be the strongest possible opponents of ripping the system apart and creating chaos for american families. i yield the floor. thank you. mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i call up amendment number 52 and ask that it be reported by number.
1:01 pm
the presiding officer: without objection the clerk will report the amendment by number. the clerk: the senator from wyoming mr. enzi for mr. flake proposes an amendment numbered 52. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate the previous order, the senate statement from the senate, will


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on