Weekly Democratic Address
March 3, 2017
This is Chris Murphy, Senator from Connecticut.
It was quite a scene Thursday morning in the basement of the U.S. Capitol. My friend Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky – he led a pack of reporters in and out of every corner of the cavernous cellar on a hunt for the secret room where Congressional Republicans were allegedly keeping their new bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Why this spectacle?
Well, because Republicans are keeping their proposal secret – even from their own members and staff.
Now, this is a bill that would yank insurance away from up to 30 million people and remake 1/6 of the American economy. It would hike rates up for sick people and seniors. It would tax employer health plans, driving everyone’s insurance costs up.
So maybe it’s no surprise that Republicans are hiding this bill. I mean, think about it this way – politicians, they generally love praise and cameras. So, if Washington Republicans thought their plan would get praise, they’d let in the cameras.
Listen, for my neighbors in Connecticut, health care isn’t a game. It’s not about politics; it’s about real people. And ultimately, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would hurt millions of real people in real ways.
People like my friend, Jon. He’s a true American inspiration.
Jon lives in Meriden, Connecticut. He was born with cystic fibrosis, and he tells the story about how health care is the most important thing to him in the world. It’s more important than his job, it’s more important than friends. He struggles every day just to live, and the only way he survives is by taking expensive medications that allow him to continue to breathe, that allow his lungs to function amid this crippling disease.
And Jon, he tells it like it is. Without the Affordable Care Act that allows him to get affordable health care, he would die, as Jon sees it, probably within months of losing insurance.
And Jon’s story isn’t unique. Millions of Americans will either go without health care or go bankrupt if the Affordable Care Act is taken away.
Now, Republicans like to tell this story about how the Affordable Care Act is unraveling. It’s a fiction that they created. Now, sure, we can improve it, but 20 million Americans have health care today that wouldn’t have it without the Affordable Care Act, and surveys show upwards of 85% of them are satisfied with their care under the ACA. No one goes bankrupt anymore because of health care costs. And seniors are paying less for drugs under Medicare than before the bill was passed.
The Affordable Care Act is working today – for Jon and millions more. But every day, the Republicans push their repeal plan, they undermine it. Even worse, President Trump issued one of his infamous executive orders, demanding that his agencies start to pull apart the Affordable Care Act’s protections immediately, even before a repeal bill is passed. As we speak, Republicans are trying to destroy the health care reform law so that they never even have to pass a repeal bill.
But whether Republicans repeal the law or destroy it, it’s all bad news for patients. Without the Affordable Care Act, Americans with preexisting health conditions, like diabetes or mental illness, would either get denied insurance or have to pay a crazy amount of money. Insurance companies could reinstate lifetime and annual caps on your benefits, meaning that they could cut you off just when you really need insurance. And women would pay more for insurance than men – just because they’re women.
And this might all be good news for the health insurance companies, and that’s probably what they told President Trump when they huddled with him in the Oval Office last week. But if the President was meeting with patients, instead of health insurance industry CEOs, they’d tell him to work with Republicans and Democrats – both parties – to keep what works in the Affordable Care Act, and fix the parts that could use improvement.
Now, sure, Republicans, you know, they control everything in Washington right now. The White House, the House of Representatives, the Senate. But they can choose to reach out to Democrats, and we can work together to make this law better, to reduce costs, increase choice. We can do that together. It’s not too late.
Because health care – it shouldn’t be about politics. It isn’t in Connecticut. And it shouldn’t be about blindly trying to fulfill a campaign promise, no matter how much real people get hurt.
Now, I might never find that secret room where the health care bill is, but Republicans, they know where to find me, if they want to stop playing politics, and start working together.