Weekly Democratic Address
September 22, 2017
Hello, I’m Congressman John Yarmuth from Louisville, Kentucky, and the Ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
This past week, we learned that the Senate’s latest iteration of Trumpcare, ‘Graham-Cassidy’ they call it, would likely take health coverage away from approximately 32 million people – a staggering ten percent of the American public.
Let’s be clear: we already knew that the bill, if it becomes law, would eliminate protections for people with preexisting conditions, end Medicaid as we know it, cause premiums to skyrocket, limit choice, condemn millions of working families to financial ruin, and lead to the deaths of thousands of Americans.
So, how is it possible that none of these devastating details seem to be having an effect on the President and Republican Senators, who continue to support this dangerous bill?
Because this was never about health care for them. If this were a debate on lowering costs and improving the quality of health care for working families, we’d be having a very different conversation right now.
If Republicans in Congress are so desperate to take action on health care, Democrats would be more than happy to work with them on any proposal, provided it meets just one single condition: it has to make things better for the American people, not worse.
Graham-Cassidy does not come close to meeting that condition. Instead, they’re racing to drive up families’ costs, and destroy their coverage with this legislation. That, to quote President Trump, is ‘mean.’
If Republicans want to work on a bill that further contains costs for the American people or improves heath care outcomes – or both – Democrats would work with them. All that matters to us is better outcomes for Americans.
Let me repeat that. All [that] we are interested in is improving the lives of the American people, and the bill Mitch McConnell could hold a vote on next week – with no debate and only a sham hearing – will unquestionably cause untold suffering in every community in America.
The bill will bring hardship to families nationwide, not just taking us back to where we were eight years ago but making things significantly worse – allowing states to remove price protections and gut vital health services for women like maternity care. It will strip away mental health care and the critical protections that make insurance meaningful.
If you’re one of the 134 million Americans under the age of 65 living with a preexisting condition such as asthma, diabetes or cancer – that’s one in three of us – this bill lets your state price you out of treatment that could save your life.
If you are in your 50s or early 60s, this bill would open up the door to a crushing age tax that causes your premiums to skyrocket.
If you’re disabled and rely on Medicaid to survive, the bill sets caps that threaten to end the care you need.
But if you’re a politician desperate to say you fulfilled an ill-thought campaign promise, Graham-Cassidy is the bill for you.
President Trump was onto something when he called the House bill ‘mean.’ But he stopped too soon. The Senate bill is monstrous. Cruel. Even deadly.
Republicans have until September 30 to pass a bill in the Senate without Democrats under budget reconciliation rules. It may seem like a trick for them to try to pass a health care bill as a budget bill to avoid working with Democrats. But, the truth is, this never was a health care bill. That’s why Graham-Cassidy is opposed by doctors, hospitals, patients, senior citizens, people with disabilities, and even insurance companies.
The good news is if Republicans want to propose a health care bill that improves care for the American people, they don’t have to rush or use procedure to avoid Democrats. We’re ready to work with you. Democrats are already at the table, and we’re saving your seats.
So please, for the American people, I urge my friends in the Senate to reject the disastrous Graham-Cassidy bill, and let’s get to work on a real proposal to improve America’s health.